Grand County is getting trashy

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There are no shortage of difficulties that arise from living in Middle Park. Amongst them are waste disposal. As the local papers reported earlier, the waste generated within the county exceeds the storage options within the county and at present, our trash is shipped to Erie, which is not inexpensive.

What can we do long-term? As one astute commenter mentioned on a local Facebook page, there are other options besides landfills and transportation to other landfills.

This would undoubtedly be exorbitantly expensive, but Sweden has a solution worthy of a closer look. Waste-to-energy (WTE) is a fairly simple concept. In Sweden’s case, they burn their trash waste to generate electricity. The system has reduced their stored waste to less than 5 percent of their total waste generated.

According to Public Radio International (PRI), Sweden’s program has become so successful, they’re importing several hundred tons of trash from their European neighbors for WTE fuel.

I have utterly no clue how much a WTE facility would cost, but the concept should be explored by both The Trash Company (TTC) and Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) both for viability of concept and cost. Mountain Parks Electric (MPE) would also be a stakeholder with an interest in the discussion. Grand County doesn’t need to think big or small.

Grand County needs to think long-term. In this case, there’s a ridiculously obvious potential for Grand County to become a test case for WTE in the US. Think about the possibilities here. TTC and MPE get together with the BOCC, maybe there’s a grant involved, who knows. Grand County gets a WTE facility hooked up and now the household garbage for all of Grand County is going into the incinerator and converting to electricity.

Pretty soon we’re extracting from the landfills. Then we reach the point we’re burning more than we generate, now TTC is getting paid to bring trash into Grand County and MPE is making money off of the electricity generated by our garbage and there’s always the potential everyone’s electricity costs would decline.

But nothing is free. Even in the Swedish WTE industry, the consumer has to step up and do their part. When they may reduce their bills substantially, perhaps they’ll be more willing and interested in taking a more active role in segregating their household trash, but this would necessitate a cultural shift in the County.

It might also generate a few new businesses or a new revenue stream for TTC to hire locals to segregate garbage for the high-end customers who can’t be bothered. Who knows? Will it happen? Somewhat doubtful it’ll even be explored. Maybe we do need to “Think Grand.“ A closer look S.

Jacob Stern J. Seth Stern is a 1997 Middle Park graduate. He served in the United States Air Force and has a major in Journalism and Sociology. He also has a minor in Political Science.

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