After a two-year hiatus, recycling returned to the Sonoita landfill on February 3, according to Jerry Montoya who oversees Santa Cruz County’s landfill operations. 

Montoya emphasized that recycling this time around will eliminate the problem of trash contaminating the recyclables. The new operation will use receptacles designed to make it difficult for inappropriate materials to fit into the recycling containers and the recycling activity itself will be monitored to ensure compliance with proper recycling procedures and rules.

Initially, only aluminum cans, tin cans, plastic bottles and clean flattened cardboard will be accepted at the landfill. Glass, paper and plastic bags will not be accepted. There will be no charge for depositing recyclable materials 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 1:00-5:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Unlike the cost for disposing of trash, there is no charge to drop off recyclables at the landfill.

While this is good news for Sonoita-Elgin residents, the county has not yet restarted recycling in Patagonia and has no plans to do so until a facility there can be operated in a supervised and secure manner. In the meantime, the Patagonia Recycling Task Force continues to sponsor recycling events on the fourth Saturday of the month behind the post office, alternating between glass and cardboard. 

Likely because of the holiday gift-giving season and the continuing Covid pandemic, the task force received its largest volume to date of cardboard on January 22 despite the start of curbside recycling offered by Recyclops. Task force volunteers loaded two pickup trucks, a trailer and a van and delivered the cardboard to Green Planet in Nogales.

According to Eric Holeman, who is heading up the Recyclops’ Patagonia rollout, 86 Patagonia area households and two businesses have subscribed to the service and he anticipates no problem in reaching the 100 subscribers the company needs to make it profitable. Task force chairman Bob Brandt said Recyclops could easily surpass that target if it carries out its stated mission “to provide access to affordable recycling to all, regardless of where people live.” Recyclops has begun discussions with Sonoita-Elgin residents to explore options for serving that area. 

The Recyclops implementation has not been without some glitches. The company has had difficulty finding a transport company to deliver storage containers to its leased site off San Antonio Road where the collected materials are aggregated until they are transported to a materials recovery facility in Tucson. Some subscribers have reported confusion about when their service would start and exactly where they should place their recyclables for pick up, and some have reported that the company has not responded to inquiries in a timely manner.

Brandt said some problems can be expected during the rollout of a new service, but Recyclops managers have been cooperative and open to feedback, as was the case when a key staff member was reassigned after Brandt informed the company of his failure to follow through with commitments. Brandt encourages subscribers to use the website or call their support number (801) 709-1509 to get information or resolve issues. 

Brandt can be reached for information or suggestions about recycling at