Recycling a top priority for Los Alamos

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By Gabriel Vasquez

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) has recognized Los Alamos County for having the state’s second highest recycling rate.

According to the NMED, Lincoln County recycled the most, 67 percent of its solid-waste in 2007, a figure attributed to the county's composting of large quantities of green waste.

Regina Wheeler, Los Alamos County Solid Waste Division Manager, said the NMED calculates recycling rates using guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency, but those guidelines do not account for the total material actually recycled in the county.

Wheeler estimates the recycling rate for Los Alamos County to be 40 percent, although the state lists that figure at closer to 20 percent.

“They don’t count the concrete we recycle,” she said. “The concrete recycling is really important because not only does it keep it out of the landfill, but local projects get to use the recycled material instead of going down the hill to get them.”

Specifically, Wheeler said that the Diamond Drive construction project has benefited from using recycled concrete from the landfill to turn into pavement base material, which has brought down the total cost of the project.

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