On July 1, the Village of Los Lunas officially closed its recycling center at Smith’s, due to complaints from residents in the neighborhood north of the grocery store.
“There was a lot of paper blowing over,” said Village Administrator Phillip Jaramillo. “We had a person who would go and clean the area, but we can’t have someone there all of the time watching people.”
Three different bins for paper, plastic and glass were located on the side of Smith’s. Instead of using the proper bins, people would throw paper on the ground and toss trash inside the dome-shaped containers.
“That was a problem. People were putting things inside the bins that were not recyclable,” the village administrator said.
At first, Jaramillo said, the village thought there might be another way to deal with the center’s problems. “We thought we might be able to work something out in that area, but the neighbors were dissatisfied. The best thing we could do was get out of there.”
The recycling bins from Smith’s are now located behind the village municipal building on Don Pasqual, where Los Lunas has always housed a recycling center.
“That’s where we do all the recyclables. We want to keep the center here for right now, until we can come up with something better, down the road,” he said.
The area is much bigger, with six dome containers and a recycling space for tree branches. The branch chips are used to landscape public areas and parks. “There’s a lot of positive aspects to recycling. We’re barely keeping up, as we recycle branches. The chips help with moisture and using less water to keep the landscapes,” Jaramillo said.
“We still want to have one in that area (near Smith’s). There’s a need there. The thing is, we need to find an area that we can enclose more properly. If you do have an area where people throw paper, you can contain it better.”
Jaramillo said, in many ways, people were using the Smith’s recycling center correctly. And now that the bins are in one location, residents should use them even more.
“Some people are very good at recycling, others still don’t do it at all. We have to continue to do it,” he said.
“Ultimately, the main thing is we don’t put this stuff in landfills. Recycling is a huge benefit to the environment. We’d like people to recycle a lot more.”
Last month, the Village of Los Lunas saw its highest cash return for recyclable paper, with $1,500 for approximately 30 tons.
“That return pays for half of our costs. We’re getting to where we can pay for the people who recycle,” he said.
“There was a big push in recycling a few years ago, but there’s little awareness now. People aren’t as involved. We want to let people know about it again.”
For more information on the Los Lunas recycling center, call Utilities Director Betty Behrend at 865-1377.