The hallmark of any successful businessman is that he arrives at the exact moment he’s needed.
The moment for the Flathead County landfill is now. In four of the first six months this year, the landfill broke records for tons of trash taken in, with June topping out at 11,872 tons. The record months come on the heels of a record year in 2004, when the landfill took in 15.7 percent more trash than the year before.
County Landfill Director Dave Prunty says population growth and an improving economy are feeding the landfill, and he expects the trend to continue.
“This wasn’t just a blip,” Prunty says.
The problem, Prunty says, is that trash is infinite, while space is not. But he sees an option for slowing the trash monster.
“Recycling is really the one thing people can do,” he says. “The more material we can recycle, the better off we’ll be.”
One barrier to recycling in the valley is the lack of curbside service. Prunty admits it’s only “human nature” to toss recyclables in the trash rather than drive them to recycling bins scattered around the valley.
But as the trash piles up, Cory Cullen hopes to help save the day and subdue the landfill that threatens to swallow the Flathead. His fight against waste began three years ago, when he moved to Whitefish hoping to start a photography career. While waiting for opportunities, he founded New World Recycling, the Flathead’s first curbside recycling service. Since then his business has steadily grown—he has more than 150 Whitefish customers and collects hundreds of 32-gallon garbage cans of recyclables each week.
Now, success has put him in a position to expand and start making a real dent in the Flathead’s growing garbage pile. In the coming weeks, he plans to expand to Kalispell.
Cullen says he’s proud to be making it easier to recycle, and Prunty’s glad he’s doing it.
“I think it all helps,” Prunty says. “If he can get that going, it’d be great.”