Column: Great Year for Recycling in Los Alamos County

By Tom Nagawiecki
Environmental Services Specialist
Los Alamos County

Most people do not get very pumped-up over trash, but 2012 was an exciting year for waste and recycling in Los Alamos County!  

After many years of hard work, the County was able to successfully launch the glass drop-off recycling program, bringing back an important recycling option for our citizens. 

The County lowered recycling rates for commercial services giving restaurants, churches, businesses, and apartment complexes an affordable option to help keep recyclables out of the landfill. 

The Los Alamos County Co-op introduced the Terra-Cycle recycling program, enabling individuals to recycle commonly un-recyclable items such as chip bags. 

These new programs combined with the hard work of every one of you, resulted in a significant decline in the tons of solid waste generated and an increase in the tons of materials recycled by our residential customers.    

September marked the unveiling of the new glass drop-off program, which enables residents to collect glass bottles and jars of all colors and drop them off at one of three locations (Los Alamos County Eco Station, Sullivan Field, or Overlook Park) to be recycled. 

Glass is then fed into a glass pulverizer, where it is crushed and tumbled creating smooth glass cullet. The cullet is available for free at the Eco Station and makes a great substitute for pea gravel for use in landscaping projects, or as a medium for your next art project. 

Remember that glass is not accepted in your blue curbside recycling roll carts, and putting glass in these bins could result in a load of recyclables being sent to the landfill. 

Also, when dropping off your glass at one of the yellow dumpsters please ensure that the bottles are empty, lids are removed and that only the bottles are being placed in the bin; plastic bags and cardboard boxes should not be placed in the glass recycling bin. 

In the four months the program has been in existence the County has recycled 40 tons of glass, leading to financial and environmental gains by avoiding the need to ship it off the hill to be dumped in a landfill. 

In an attempt to promote recycling in the commercial sector the County drastically reduced the cost of recycling services in August. 

A business can call today and set up a recycling dumpster for a low cost of $19.05 per month, or a recycling roll cart for only $5 per month. 

Depending on the size of the business they may be able to save money by implementing a recycling program through reduced trash service. Call 662-8383 today to set up recycling at your business, church, school or apartment complex. 

The Los Alamos Cooperative Market currently collects chip bags, cereal box liners, bagged cereal bags and all packaging from Bear Naked Products for recycling through the Terra-Cycle program. 

The Co-op ships the collected items to Terra-Cycle where they are repurposed into new products. The program helps keeps these materials out of the landfill and builds community, with every item recycled Terra-cycle donates money to local non-profits. 

Find out more about this exciting recycling program by visiting or call the Co-op at 695-1579.

As a result, there was an 8 percent decline in residential waste in 2012, and a residential recycling increase of 9% over 2011. Great job! 

It is important that we keep up the good work and remember to only place the following materials in your blue curbside recycling roll cart: plastic bottles #1 & #2, tin/steel cans, aluminum cans, aluminum foil, newspaper, white paper, magazines, catalogues, junk mail, shredded paper in a clear plastic bag and corrugated cardboard. 

These are the only materials excepted in the curbside recycling stream. Make sure you keep the following items out of the blue curbside recycling bin: glass, #1 and #2 plastic clamshells and tubs, #3-#7 plastics, paperboard (i.e. cereal boxes, cracker boxes) and styrofoam. 

2012 was a great year for recycling in Los Alamos County and 2013 is looking to be even better. This year the County is set to: resume composting operations, consider potential expansion of materials accepted in the curbside recycling program and continue to grow the glass recycling program.

More info about recycling can be found at or by contacting Tom Nagawiecki at 662-8383.

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