Unlike previous years, there were no long lines at Valley Recycling on Friday or the West Campus at Bridgerland Technical College.
And there won’t be Saturday, either. The annual Earth Day event put on by Valley Recycling had to be called off because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was originally planned for April 17 and 18 this year.
“We are quite bummed,” said Chris Bond, the vice president of Valley Recycling. “We are supposed to be doing it today (Friday) and tomorrow. … We’ve been talking a lot today about how sad it is we are not doing it. We look forward to it every year.”
Many people around Cache Valley and beyond do as well. Last year more than 1,000 sales were made and many more were given a lunch, as families tag along usually. Ean Kunz, the general manger at the facility on 145 N. 1000 West, said over the last six years the event has averaged between 1,000 and 1,500 customers for the two days.
So, having to postpone it this year affected a lot of people.
“We are trying to stay in compliance with what the governor has asked and the CDC about large gatherings of people,” Kunz said.
Kunz said the corporate office is hopeful there will still be some sort of event later this year. Bond confirmed that.
“It is being forecasted that later in the year, maybe late summer things will be a little more loosened up as far as the COVID-19 is concerned,” Bond said. “We are hoping we could hold some sort of an event in the fall time.”
Bond has been involved with the event for past 20 years. His grandfather started the event on or near Earth Day more than three decades ago.
“I started doing it in the early 2000s and that’s when we started doing the big lunch, a lot of advertising, tried to get higher prices and we had some giveaways,” Bond said.
“It was a much smaller event when it started,” Kunz said. “Now we have it at two locations, here at our yard and Bridgerland’s West Campus the last few years to be able to get all of our customers service. We used to do it at the Fairgrounds, but since they renovated over there Bridgerland has been a little bit better fit.”
While aluminum cans are brought in by most, there is much more involved. Metals like steel, copper, brass and tin are also bought, along with automobiles, some appliances and insulated wires. And the event has become more than just people selling junk items as there is music, giveaways and lunch is provided.
“When I took it over, I stepped back and looked at it and tried to make it a win for everybody,” Bond said. “The people that want to recycle want to get rid of their cans or junk that is lying around. We try to get them a little bit more money.”
Bond said the company reaches out to aluminum and steel smelters a few weeks in advance of the weekend event and work on getting a better price or cash donations to help make Earth Day beneficial to everyone involved.
“We team up with the aluminum producers and the steel producers to offer more, so it’s a win for those that bring in their recyclable items,” Bond said. “We also like to partner with a lot of the local businesses in Logan and see if they want to give anything away and a lot do. Businesses in Cache Valley step up and support the event. We couldn’t do it without their help. It really has become a community event. That was our goal.”
The Earth Day event has been on Easter weekend before, where egg hunts have been held. T-shirts and hats have been given away, along with many other prizes. The lunch has included freshly grilled hamburgers or a hot dog, chips and a drink. Bond said it is all about creating a memorable event that people put on their calendar each year.
“Our idea is to help celebrate Earth Day and put an event on that would encourage the local economy to recycle,” Kunz said. “Pricing has to do with it for sure.”
Some years the weather can play a little havoc, but people still come out. The prices of different metals can also play a role. Bond remembers 2007 well, which was before they used two sites.
“It was crazy, crazy busy in 2007,” Bond said. “It was before they had widened 10th West. The price of steel was $200 a ton. China was buying all the material they could get their hands on. Copper was $3.50 a pound. I remember aluminum cans was $0.75 a pound. The prices were the highest we’ve ever seen, and we had a beautiful Friday and Saturday. Cars were lined up all the way down 10th West. We learned a lot of lessons there. We decided it needed another site. We were just too big for our little yard there on 10th West.”
Bond said employees are brought in from all nine facilities the company owns, from Boise, Idaho, to Salt Lake City. He also pointed out the event would not be possible without being able to work with the other sites that have been used like the Fairgrounds and Bridgerland.
“We look forward to it as a company,” Bond said.
The Cache Valley event has been around almost as long as Earth Day has been celebrated. The 50th anniversary of Earth Day will happen next Wednesday. Valley Recycling began its event almost 40 years ago.
Updates will be posted on the company’s website and Facebook page as to when an event will be held in 2020.