Potential community composting program could benefit county environmentally, economically | SkyHiNews.com

Potential community composting program could benefit county environmentally, economically

Between expanding recycling options, charging for single-use bags and investing in solar energy, entities around Grand County are focusing on becoming more environmentally friendly and promoting sustainability. A new project to create a community compost program aims to continue those efforts.

Infinite West, a local sustainability nonprofit, is in the preliminary stages of setting up a public composting pilot program in Grand County. Tom Harris, president of the Infinite West Board of Directors, said he has seen a demand for a community compost program in the last few years.

“I think everybody is always amazed at how neat and crucial composting is,” Harris said. “Composting just keeps coming up, which is one reason why we’re really going for it.”

A community compost program would allow the public to drop off compostable waste at a main site, where employees would do the work of aerating and turning the materials until the compost is formed. Then the product could be sold.

Harris said Infinite West is currently in talks with the Grand County Board of Commissioners and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment about starting a pilot program to test how the idea would work here.

According to the 2016 Grand County Waste Diversion Study, almost 61 percent of the county’s waste stream is made of compostable materials, including organic materials and paper.

“The idea of having a pilot program is to see how viable it is to create a commerce system,” he said. “So, basically, we’d set it up, get it figured out, get the system of picking it up and dropping it off, composting it and selling it, as well as finding buyers for it.”

While nothing has yet been decided, Harris said they are considering starting the pilot program at the old landfill in Kremmling, which is still permitted for another year, or a site somewhere in Fraser for easier access. Infinite West is also considering placing various drop-off boxes around the county.

According to the 2016 Grand County Waste Diversion Study, almost 61 percent of the county’s waste stream is made of compostable materials, including organic materials and paper.

Harris explained that diverting those items from the waste stream would clear up space at the landfill, noting other communities that diverted compost cleared 35 percent of the space at the landfill on average, and reduced the amount of methane gas produced by the landfill.

“If you keep the compost out of the landfill, the county would save huge amounts of money,” he said. “If you were to cut 30 to 50 percent of the mass going into the landfill and utilize it in other ways, you could take a 30-year lifespan of a landfill and extend it.”

Since restaurants and the food industry produce a lot of compostable waste, Harris said they are also looking into a commercial pick-up option so businesses can also utilize the compost program.

Ultimately, removing it from the landfill would also help save money on hauling waste to the landfill and could potentially make money through the sales of compost, which can be used as organic fertilizer, to gardeners, farmers and, even, the Colorado Department of Transportation.

“CDOT has it mandated that they have to use compost on all the highways and freeways, so they would probably buy every bit of it,” he explained. “Or say you’re a gardener and you want to do some gardening at your place, having compost local means it’s easier to access.”

With conversations ongoing, Harris said he hopes to have the pilot program up and running within a year. In the meantime, Infinite West continues to support backyard composters and is working on creating a hand-on series to teach locals how to compost.


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