Recycle Utah is a Park City Climate Fund 2019 grantee and received $75,000. Recycle Utah designed a two-year plan to set the foundation to work towards a goal of Zero Waste by 2030 for the Park City Community.
Landfills create methane which is a short-lived, highly potent climate pollutant. Over a 20 year period, one ton of methane causes 72 times more warming than one ton of carbon dioxide (CO2). Consequently, the mitigation of methane from existing landfills provides important climate benefits. The more we can divert from the landfill through proper recycling, the more we can reduce our community’s impact on the climate. Many items currently go into the landfill that can be diverted, such as cardboard. The goal is to incrementally decrease waste in the Park City Community and get as close to 100% Zero Waste by 2030.
The strategy recognizes multi-sector collaboration and commitments from local government, the business sector, and residents. To date, Recycle Utah has hired a dedicated Zero Waste Specialist to lead the effort. A Zero Waste Coalition of 25+ diversion allies, representing a cross-section of expertise, has been identified. The Zero Waste Specialist, along with support from community members, successfully advocated for the passing of Park City’s community goal of zero waste by 2030 during a City Council session on November 12, 2020. A communications strategy, per subcommittee, has been put in place to mobilize support for the multitude of Zero Waste efforts described below. Opportunities for Zero Waste action items have been identified as the following:
Local Government Policy
During the 2020 Visioning Process, the Park City community identified zero-waste as a core action for the Environmental Leadership pillar, with a focus on a fully circular economy. In a recent member survey, businesses from the Park City Chamber Bureau identified green/recycling initiatives as a top issue, followed by sustainable tourism and climate change. Currently, the City is pursuing a new waste contract for downtown businesses with key diversion milestones including 40% by 2024, 60% by 2026, 80% by 2028. This zero-waste initiative for downtown businesses will be a flagship piece of the zero-waste goal and lead the way for additional zero-waste solutions in the greater Park City Community. The Sustainability Department has strong support from Park City’s Mayor and City Council to pursue innovative and aggressive waste strategies for businesses and residents.
Potential for mandatory recycling of cardboard for businesses. This is because cardboard continues to end up in the Summit County Landfill and much of this material has identifiable markings belonging to national retailers and local businesses. Other policy items include, potentially instituting city and county ordinances including a plastic bag ban and/or styrofoam ban. Assisting neighboring Wasatch County in advocating for a Household Hazardous Waste Program for their residents.
To date, Recycle Utah has assisted Park City Sustainability in securing a $20,000 grant from the EPA for a reusable takeout container pilot program that will help to eliminate packaging waste in the community. The pilot program will launch in Spring of 2022, in partnership with select businesses in downtown Park City, and hopefully, expand to the greater Park City and Summit County areas.
Recycle Utah will also be assisting the Summit County Sustainability Office in researching strategic climate action plans in similar communities to provide ideas for an updated strategic plan for Summit County.
Municipal and County Sustainability Office Expertise
Greater Park City is fortunate enough to have local government prioritization and investment in sustainability. These offices, at the municipal and county levels, have been extremely collaborative with Recycle Utah and open to vetting ideas regarding Zero Waste strategies.
Local Government Waste Management Operations
The following bid processes have opportunities to prioritize and operationalize customized Zero Waste methods within waste management contracts, such as green/yard waste, composting, and recycling:
Recycle Utah’s Green Business Program – Recycle Utah provides zero waste tips in the Green Business newsletter and offers consulting resources for local green businesses, such as recycling, composting, and waste audits.
In partnership with the Utah Climate Action Network, Recycle Utah is hosting a Local Food and Zero Waste Resources event on Tuesday, September 28th. The event will showcase local organizations and businesses, such as GoBiochar, Summit Community Gardens, FulFILLed UT, Fosters Refillery, Wasteless Solutions, and more, who provide services that help community members implement climate solutions in their daily lives.
Mountain Town Collaboration
Recycle Utah’s Zero Waste strategy includes building relationships with zero-waste leaders in other mountain towns such as Aspen, CO, and Burlington, VT to draw from their successes and lessons learned. Communities with similar dynamics to Park City – tourist economies, part-time residents, heavy snowfall, terrain elements, etc. – offer the best chances for replicability here. Recycle Utah recognizes that community collaboration is key in solving climate issues, and also frequently partners with other local organizations such as Swaner EcoPreserve, Summit Community Gardens, TreeUtah, and Utah Clean Energy.
For more information, contact:
Haylee Neel, Zero Waste Specialist