City of Cortez unveils new recycling rules

City to reject newspapers, require more sorting

Shak Powers shows the first plastic bottle bale collected for recycling at the Montezuma County Landfill. Enlargephoto

The Journal file

Shak Powers shows the first plastic bottle bale collected for recycling at the Montezuma County Landfill.

Several months after announcing planned changes to the city’s recycling program, Cortez has put out a list of new regulations.

Recycling coordinator Colby Earley told the Cortez City Council during an August workshop that because of several factors, including China’s announcement that it would no longer accept most recycled materials from the U.S., he expected the city would have to change its policy on curbside pickups soon.

At that time, Earley said he would probably halt curbside pickups of glass items for a while, but the new rules instead place restrictions on newspapers and certain types of plastic.

The city is asking residents to separate more of their recycling before placing it on the curb or dropping it off at the landfill.

Earley said the city recycling program will no longer accept newspapers because recent price changes mean they can cost more than $47 per ton to recycle.

“It’s cheaper to throw them away than pick them up,” he said.

The new rules also require residents to separate Type 1 and Type 2 plastics before recycling them. Each type has the number 1 or 2 printed on it inside a small triangle.

The most common Type 1 plastics include small water bottles, all soda bottles, clamshell containers, mouthwash bottles and vegetable oil containers, all of which can be turned into things like fiber and fleece.

Type 2 plastics include milk jugs, dish soap, laundry detergent and shampoo bottles, which can be recycled into furniture, tile and many other things.

The city also collects cardboard, glass items with the lids removed, aluminum cans, tin cans and office paper. According to a news release from Earley, aluminum items are the easiest to sell because they can be used in a variety of new aluminum products.

Even before the China ban, the release said Cortez has always tried to sell to domestic markets as much as possible.

“Our collection efforts have been clean and did not in any way contribute to the China situation,” the release said.

To learn more about Cortez’s recycling program, go to and click on the “Recycling” tab under the “Public Works” section, or contact Earley at 970-565-7320 ext. 3352.

This article was reposted on Nov. 28 to correct the cost of recycling newspapers.