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Cortez plans restrictions in recycling program

City to halt curbside glass collection
Shak Powers shows the first bale of plastic bottles collected for recycling at the Montezuma County Landfill in 2015.

In a busy workshop on Tuesday, the Cortez City Council discussed upcoming restrictions in the town’s recycling program.

Recycling coordinator Colby Earley told the council that because worldwide demand for recycled materials has declined, he plans to halt curbside pickups of glass items, and will more closely sort paper and plastic.

Some changes were caused by China’s recent announcement to the World Trade Organization that it would no longer accept types of recycled paper and plastics from other countries. Cortez sells its recyclables to several national companies, which are affected by China’s decision. That means recycling staff will sort out previously accepted types of paper. The city’s plastic sorting system is rigorous enough for most companies, he said.

“It should be minimal impact for us,” he said.

Glass collection presents a bigger problem. Earley said the city’s trash collection vehicles are running out of room to separate glass from other recyclables and that he plans to halt curbside glass pickups altogether. The city will still accept glass at public drop-off locations, he said.

The recycling department plans to distribute fliers to schools, Southwest Memorial Hospital and other places affected by the changes, Earley said. Employees also will label public dumpsters with an updated list of acceptable materials.

Public Works Director Phil Johnson said he plans to ask for funds to buy a new recycling truck next year.

“It’s not just because of this issue, but because of the age of the existing one,” he said.

Earley said the recycling truck has collected about 7,400 pounds of plastic per month, as residents have stepped up their recycling.

When residents increase their recycling, Earley said, they reduce their overall trash volume, which in turn reduces their collection bill. Because of residents’ increased recycling, however, Earley said that he likely will request funding for additional employees next year to help handle the increased volume.

Other action

During the workshop, council members also talked about adding a second full-time position at the Colorado Welcome Center, and heard a request from Montezuma County Commissioner and Fair Board member Keenan Ertel for funds to help pay liability insurance for next year’s Fourth of July fireworks display.

They also heard a presentation from Lisa Bloomquist on the nonprofit HomesFund, which helps people in Southwest Colorado find affordable housing, and heard an update on the recent YouthWorks volunteer projects in Cortez from Colorado Welcome Center volunteer coordinator Noel Cooley.

During their regular meeting, council members unanimously approved the final reading of an ordinance to create the municipal offense of false reporting to authorities.

Council members also voted unanimously to appoint Rachel Medina, a member of the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Advisory Board, to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Medina will replace Tim Kline, who recently resigned, and will also leave a vacancy on the Parks and Recreation Board.

Find out more

To learn more about Cortez’s recycling program, contact Colby Earley at 970-565-7320, go to the

“Public Works”

tab on


or visit the City Service Center at 110 W. Progress Circle.

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