A symphony of broken glass echoes through prospector square as a line of cars forms nearby, each driver eager to play their tune. To the untrained ear, the crash of broken glass would prompt concern, but for the founders and employees of Recycle Utah, it’s music to their ears.
In response to the lack or recycling resources in Park City in the early 90’s, a group of like-minded locals formed the Park City Conservation Association, now doing business as Recycle Utah. Since it’s conception, the organization has made its vision one of local and global impact, driving education, partnership, and accessibility through donations, events, and sponsorships. Today, Recycle Utah accepts “over 45 different items for re-use, recycling, or Haz-mat treatment and informs the next generation of environmentally conscious adults through their Elementary Education Program, which impacts more than “5,000 elementary school children throughout Summit and Wasatch Counties every year.”
While all Summit County residents are now supplied with an in-home recycling bin, there are still over 25 items not accepted for residential recycling, with products like glass, Styrofoam, and single-use plastic bags among the bunch. Recycle Utah accepts, hauls, and sorts these items directly from their Park City facility, along with many more.
The Green Business Program
In 2016 Recycle Utah launched the Green Business Program, to support local businesses in their efforts towards “zero emissions and zero waste,” a Summit County mission by 2030. In doing so, they implemented a three-tiered approach to sustainability - Green Circle, Blue Square, and Black Diamond. Businesses looking to join can assess their current sustainability via Reycle Utah’s online check-list and reach out directly to learn more about official membership. To date, the GBP includes over 100 businesses, with perks and resources for new and current members. Each new member is assessed and supported in developing a sustainability plan through the GBP’s Action Categories, which includes Energy, Water Conservation, Materials Management, Transportation, and Thriving Community & Equity.
In addition to small business and local business support, Recycle Utah works heavily with Park City’s main attractions, specifically Vail Resort’s own climate pledge initiative – Epic Promise, which emphasizes forest conservation, energy reduction, and donates more than $8M annually to youth programs and environmental initiatives.
Impact & Fundraising
There are few who live locally who don’t feel the impact of Recycle Utah’s conservation measures. A huge emphasis within the community has been placed on sustainable tourism, as seen in many of the changes made to Park City’s transportation and waste management. In 2021, Recycle Utah collected 771 tons of glass, 206 tons of metal, 132 tons of plastic, 21 tons of Styrofoam, and 577 tons of paper, and continues to divert 200 tons of valuable materials from the landfill each month. And while numbers half this size would be a success, they come at a cost that in today’s economy, is on the rise.
Donations & Support
As the cost of diesel fuel has risen over the last several months, so has the cost to haul away recycled goods, which is why Recycle Utah relies heavily on donors, sponsors and fundraising to keep their environmental mission alive. Bin sponsors can advertise on their chosen bin at Recycle Utah’s Park City facility, which sees hundreds of cars per week. Donors can be public or anonymous. And when monetary offerings are still out of reach, volunteers are always welcome to assist at the facility, support clean-up days, and engage in outreach.
As we know, the holidays are huge drivers of cardboard, gift wrap, and packaging. This holiday season, Recycle Utah is asking community members and guests to shop small and shop local, reducing unnecessary cardboard and emissions caused by shipping. They are also sourcing volunteers willing to donate their time by helping customers unload and sort materials at their facility in Prospector Square. And for those traveling into Park City, our community welcomes you and encourages you to help protect our winters, as well as your future travels, by considering the sustainability of your stay. Take advantage of the recycling opportunities, enjoy the ease of our public transit system, and conserve and protect our city’s clean water.