County commissioners to discuss compost program at May 10 work session
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — County recycling experts reckon that at least 40 percent of the area’s residential household waste stream is compostable, and they hope to capture at least part of that material with pilot residential composting program that’s already open for sign-ups on the High Country Conservation Center website.
The composting program will be discussed May 10 at the morning county commissioner work session.
Initially, the drop-off composting program will be limited to a couple of day per week because it has to be staffed, said assistant county manager Thad Noll. That also means people will have to pay for the service, at least to begin with, he said.
The residential program follows up on a composting program already in place using compostable waste from local schools, resorts and other sources. The compost that’s manufactured at the county landfill is being sold commercially, and the new source from the residential waste stream could increase production.
The goals of the pilot program are to determine how much people would be willing to pay, what the demand is, and to educate residents on what can be composted. If the test run is successful, the program could be expanded in the future, Noll said.
Incorporating residential composting with the county’s other recycling efforts could be another huge step toward the long-term zero-waste goal — and the compost that’s produced can be re-used right here in the county, Noll said.
According to the High Country Conservation Center’s website, most landfills are not designed to break down organic waste. Food and yard waste don’t turn into high quality nutrients for the soil when they’re buried in a landfill because compost needs adequate sunlight, oxygen and beneficial bacteria.
Landfills packed tight with mixed refuse create an airless environment and the decomposition generates plenty of methane, which is 72 percent more efficient as heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide. According to those statistics, landfills account for 34 percent of human-caused methane emissions, the largest source in the U.S.
Noll said there’s also a local private company that’s going to try targeting a specific neighborhood this summer with a commercial composting operation, showing the money-making potential for such an operation. He said that, in the long run, the county might get out of the composting business if the private sector steps up.
Learn more, and sign up for the residential composting program at the High Country Conservation Center website.
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news Tagged: | Compost, composting, Environment, landfills, recycling, Summit County Colorado, Summit County composting program, Summit County News