1 1/2 years later, Bestway pleased with results at parking-lot recycle bins

       When Bestway Disposal put large metal recycling containers in the Safeway parking lot at the Red Rock Shopping Center in the spring of 2004, the waste company's executives were not sure how the effort would go. It was their first try at do-it-yourself recycling - other than of curbside pickup for their own customers. They announced they would experiment with the free service for six months, then decide whether it should continue.
       Now, about a year and a half later, the bins are still outside Safeway, and Bestway Vice President Tom Kiemel is happy to report the experiment has “gone really well.”
       Not only are the units going to stay there, Bestway is planning a similar facility at the Bon Shopping Center north of downtown, Kiemel said.
       At the outset, “we were a bit apprehensive,” he admitted. “We had no real experience with parking-lot containers and we didn't know what they would generate.”
       The first surprise was how popular the site was. “At first, we wondered, who's going to use this thing, who would bring their stuff over there?” Kiemel said. But before long, Bestway found it was having to empty the containers twice a week instead of once, as anticipated. Now it's up to three times a week. “It's a neat thing, we're thrilled to see it happen, and we hope it continues to happen,” he said.
       The company has not surveyed its users, but Kiemel thinks the bulk of them are people who don't get curbside recycling from their waste company, either from Colorado Springs or Woodland Park.
       The Westside Pioneer talked to four people at the Bestway containers this week. Chuck Crippen, a longtime Midland-area resident, said he doesn't believe his waste company offers curbside recycling, but believes it's “a good idea” to take the extra effort as a citizen because “one of these days those landfills are going to be full.”
       Westsider Sharon Shogren said she appreciates the free Bestway containers because her company charges for curbside recyclables, and “I can't afford it.” She does have to take her glass elsewhere, she noted (the Recycle America drop-off at Stone Avenue and Fourth Street north of East Fillmore Street).
       Lowell Brown, new in town from New Mexico, drove down from Manitou Springs to drop off some cardboard. He said this was just an interim step because his waste company's service, when it starts up, will have curbside pickup.
       A fourth person, who declined to give his name, said he didn't know if his waste company had curbside service, but found the Bestway containers convenient because he lives less than a mile away.
       Bestway's idea grew out of a volunteer program that used to let people recycle newspapers at the Manitou Chamber of Commerce.
       Another parking-lot recycling facility on the Westside is at the Eighth Street Wal-Mart. That bin, put there by Recycle America, accepts newspapers and aluminum/tin.
       Bestway has three containers in all at Red Rock - two 6-yard containers for cardboard and one 20-yard container that holds newspapers, plastics, aluminum and tin. A yard is a 3-foot cube of space.
       The 20-yard container is divided into three compartments - 10 yards for newspapers, 5 for plastics and 5 for aluminum/tin.
       Newspapers constitute the most frequent drop-off, averaging 15,000 pounds a week. Other weekly averages are plastic (1,000 pounds), aluminum (75) and tin (225).
       Only a couple of major problems have come up. Initially, some people were crawling into the aluminum/tin bay to steel the aluminum cans. So the drop-off opening had to be made smaller to prevent that, Kiemel said.
       An ongoing problem is that some people apparently go to Red Rock hoping to recycle glass, but when they realize glass isn't taken they get frustrated. This is evident in the occasional signs of broken glass near the containers.
       In any event, Bestway tries to make sure the facility doesn't stay trashed for long. “We have one of our trucks drive through and pick up trash six days a week,” Kiemel said. “That's one of Safeway's concerns as well, keeping it clean.”
       The items are taken to the Recycle America off Fillmore. Bestway is paid for the newspaper and aluminum, not for the tin or plastic.
       The service is not a money-maker for Bestway, but reflects the company's belief in the importance of recycling commodities instead of unnecessarily loading them up in landfills, Kiemel explained.

Westside Pioneer article