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A MESSAGE FROM THE TAOS REGIONAL LANDFILL BOARD
The Taos Regional Landfill Board is made up of the local governments in the Enchanted Circle that partner to handle solid waste disposal for the region from commercial and municipal haulers and the public. We also have been operating the Recycling Center on Betha St. in Taos and over the past two years have been conducting studies and attempting to find a regional solution to handling recycling in a more cost efficient and environmentally more effective way, including how to encourage greater recycling and how to develop new markets for the products we collect. Currently, less than 7.6% of recyclable materials are recycled in Taos County, with only about 2% of that coming from individuals and the rest from participating governments. And a significant portion of those materials come in contaminated and have to be taken by state regulation directly to the landfill. In addition, there have been significant changes in the marketplace over time for recycled materials, with no demand for plastics, Styrofoam, glass, paper and many of the products that we used to recycle due to changes overseas and at home. While a number of our members have worked with local entrepreneurs and institutions to try to develop new products from recyclables none of those programs has been able to reach their full commercial potential enough to be able to use what we collect. By state regulation, for health and safety reasons, the landfill and recycling center can only retain a limited volume of material on-site each month and then must dispose of it, usually to the landfill. Programs we have invested in include shredding wood products for landscaping wood chips, brush and green waste for mulch, shredding tires for playground material and bailing them for Earthships, grinding glass for building material and landscaping, creating compost from sludge and green waste, using plastics blocks as a building material and many others. The volume of material we are receiving from the public has declined and the number of municipal collection programs has also declined due to costs and manpower shortages, especially during COVID. The volume of materials there has been a market for has declined and therefore limited what materials we can accept. Therefore, revenues have and will continue to fall and costs have and will continue to rise, creating an ever-larger deficit. The members of the Landfill Board used its reserves to fund the program till that amount was depleted and, therefore, saw that short of substantially raising its rates significantly for the second time in a year to both commercial and private users of the landfill, ultimately raising everyone solid waste bill at a tough time in the economy and risking it causing increased illegal dumping and burning of trash, which would be worse for the environment, that we could not afford to keep the Bertha St. recycling center open without financially jeopardizing the operation and goals of the landfill its self. While the Bertha St. Recycling Center in Taos will be closed effective Friday, September 10th at 4pm, the Landfill will continue to accept, tires, white goods (appliances), and green waste (brush, limbs, grass clippings), which we believe pose the greatest environmental and illegal dumping threats. One important reason we are able to close the collection site, is that a number of increasingly successful local private businesses have developed that are providing door step/curbside collection of recyclables and are successfully competing with the Landfill for your recyclable products. We urge you check out these private collectors and to continue to recycle while supporting local businesses. In the interim, the Taos Landfill Board will continue to research new solutions and explore how we can assist private and non-profits efforts. But, ultimately, we believe that the solution is to reduce waste and to lobby for federal and state legislation that would place the costs and responsibility for recycling on the glass, plastics and other industries that generate the products as part of the true cost of doing business, and not on the taxpayer, consumer or environment.
TAOS REGIONAL LANDFILL BOARDTaos CountyTown of TaosTown of Red RiverVillage of Eagle NestVillage of QuestaVillage of Taos Ski Valley