Kenny Hayes sorts cardboard at the recycling event held in Patagonia on Dec. 5. Seven truckloads of recyclables collected at the event were transported to Tucson recycling facilities. Photo by Mike Sweedo

Volunteers from the Mountain Empire Rotary Club joined hands with members of the Patagonia Recycling Task Force on December 5 to carry out what was the first organized recycling event in Patagonia since the COVID pandemic forced Santa Cruz County to suspend its county-wide recycling program last March. The event was held at the Patagonia Post Office and resulted in seven truck and trailer loads of recyclables being taken to recycling facilities in Tucson. 

Rotarian Clare Bonelli joined the meetings of the task force to develop detailed plans for the event and recruited the Rotary volunteers who donated use of their vehicles and helped load the recyclables onto the waiting vehicles. An estimated 25-30 local residents brought their recyclables and donated more than $350 in cash that went to the town’s recycling fund. Bonelli declared the event a “resounding success.” 

Building on this success, the task force has opted to sponsor with the town a series of recycling events that will partially fill the void left by the suspension of the county’s program. The task force will begin a monthly collection of a single recyclable commodity beginning with glass on Saturday, January 23. On that date, the task force will piggy-back onto the Rotary club’s electronics and scrap metal collection event at the Patagonia Post Office from 9:00 to 11:00a.m. to collect glass and only glass. No other recyclables will be accepted by the task force that day. 

“The rationale for this approach,” said task force chair Bob Brandt, “is that we believe focusing on one recyclable item each month will allow us to better educate our citizens about how to properly recycle each type of commodity until we can begin collecting all items at the same time. It also acknowledges that the town lacks the financial and staff resources to implement a full-scale recycling program at this time, although that is our ultimate objective. For now, recycling in Patagonia will have to be a largely volunteer operation.” 

The glass recycling and Rotary events will be conducted as separate operations in the rear of the post office. Rotary has arranged for Tucson-based Suburban Miners to receive electronics and all types of batteries and scrap metal, even major appliances. 

The recycling task force will accept glass of any color, rinsed or washed so that it is free of food or beverage contaminants and without lids. Lids may be thrown in with the scrap metal collected by Suburban Miners at the Rotary event. 

The Rotary Club will accept cash donations – $5 suggested – to help defray the costs of having Suburban Miners come to Patagonia. Donations to the task force will be added to the town’s recycling fund. 

Both the task force and Rotary welcome new members. If interested in joining the recycling group, contact Bob Brandt at For information about the Mountain Empire Rotary Club, email Bonelli at