Proposal in for city’s 1st single-stream processing plant
A facility that would be the first in the city to provide large-scale processing of single-stream recylables is planned just east of I-25.
Bestway Disposal has applied to the city for a use variance to allow the plant on an 18-acre parcel at 4005 Interpark Road, in an industrial area off Sinton Road north of Fillmore Street. City Planning Commission approval is required.
Bestway hopes to have the operation up and running in six to eight months, according to Tom Kiemel, vice president of the local company. (His brother Phil is president.)
Some of that time would be needed to renovate and retrofit the site's largest building - 50,800 square feet - into a processing center where up to 25 employees could work with specialized machines to sort recyclables into different “streams,” then bale them for shipping to buyers around the country.
Bestway, like other local trash-collection companies, now hauls its recyclables to a processor elsewhere (Boulder, in Bestway's case). Typically, this requires five semi-trailers filled with 50 tons of recyclables a day, Kiemel said.
Most of these items - cardboard, glass, metal, various types of paper and certain types of plastic - are collected by company haulers through a paid-but-voluntary curbside program used by about a quarter of its trash customers. In addition, Kiemel said, up to 50 people a day bring their own recyclables to Bestway's Highway 94 station, and that practice will also be welcome, free of charge, at the new plant.
Asked if any other processing centers exist in Colorado Springs, Lonna Thelen of City Land Use Review said Bestway's plan would make it “the first center to take single-stream recycling and separate it into recycled materials (glass, cardboard, etc.).”
In addition to saving on transportation costs, other plusses resulting from Bestway's plan would be to provide the city's most westerly public drop-off point for household recylables (currently it's Waste Management's Recyle America northeast of Nevada and Fillmore) and to allow Bestway storage, service and shipping options for which it lacks space in its current, 10,000-square-foot transfer station off Highway 94.
For example, Kiemel said, the company does not accept single-serve juice boxes as recylable items now because there aren't enough of them at one time and no room to store the boxes while the numbers build up. But such space would be available at the Interpark Road site. And, as he explained it, buyers can almost always be found nationwide for items once they're sorted and in sufficient quantity.
But it's not as if Bestway envisions the project as an automatic money-maker. Kiemel pointed out that the firm will incur a number of costs by doing its own processing, and the extent of those costs can't be fully predicted. So even though “we're excited about it” in terms of augmenting the region's recycling capabilities,“obviously, we're a for-profit company, so we hope we'll break even at least,” he said.
One of the appeals of the site is its spur from the north-south Burlington-Northern Santa Fe railroad that runs nearby. This will allow Bestway to transport bales of cardboard and paper, which are required to be shipped by rail, Kiemel said.
In fact, Bestway had been specifically looking for a site with rail service and had narrowed down the possible locations to about six in the city. The Interpark site was not up for sale, but the timing of the Bestway offer, as it turned out, came “at just the right time” for the previous owners, he summarized.
According to city Land Use, the use variance is required - even though the proposed facility is in a manufacturing zone and has a history of industrial use - because of a streamside overlay zone on the property. This overlay exists because Douglas Creek runs easterly through the north part of the acreage after leaving the Douglas Creek Open Space in the Holland Park area and passing under I-25 in a box culvert. The creek on the property has “steep and eroded slopes” that must be improved in conjunction with the city's granting of a use variance, according to Thelen's analysis of the proposal.
However, she adds that the city “understands the investment that is being made to the property to develop the recycling processing center. Therefore, Development Engineering Review has agreed to postpone a final creek design to allow for the use to commence. A note is provided on the development plan that commits the owner to provide a design for the creek improvements to be submitted for review within 180 days after the use variance is approved.”
Kiemel said he appreciates the city's flexibility on the creek because it will not be affected by the processing use; also, the extent of creek improvements - which won't be fully known until a design study is complete - is likely to require costs in the six-figure range.
Westside Pioneer article