Residential composting program coming to Summit County
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. – To begin chipping away at the goal of offering Summit County residents curbside compost collection, the High Country Conservation Center, the county government and a new waste hauling and soil delivery service are partnering to launch a three-month, countywide composting pilot program on June 20.This summer, for $51 (which is slightly more than $4 per week), residents can drop off their food scraps and non-recyclable paper waste – collected in a 4.5-gallon compost collection bucket – at the Frisco Recycling Center. Interested individuals who can’t afford the fee can volunteer in exchange for diversion privileges.Drop-off times are 4-7 p.m. Mondays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays.About 30 people are already signed up, conservation center director Jen Santry said. Assistant County Manager Thad Noll said the program can easily handle 200 or more participants.The idea behind the program is to identify kinks and shortfalls and bring them together with triumphs to create a sustainable program, Noll said. Discussions have been ongoing about a large-scale residential composting project that extends beyond the existing commercial program.”By the end of the summer, we hope to have a program … we can continue,” Noll said, adding that finances have been scrutinized, and though there are several unknowns, the partners believe the fee-based program can sustain itself without undermining the landfill’s funding structure.Sustainability also means making composting easy and accessible to the public.”We can really show (people) how much waste they can reduce through this program,” said Erin Makowsky, conservation center waste reduction coordinator. “And show them it’s easy. They don’t have to keep worms under their sink.”She said a countywide system enables more items to be composted than what would traditionally end up in a backyard scrap pile, such as meat, bones, dairy, avocado pits, tissues, wax paper – even pizza boxes.Kevin Berg at the Summit County Resource Allocation Park said about 40 percent of what’s currently dumped at the landfill is organic waste, which can be diverted through a composting program. That number rises to about 70 percent if non-recyclable papers are included.Removing organic waste helps the landfill, too, Berg said. Organic waste not only takes up space in the landfill. It produces methane – a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide – when buried.”Most landfills are designed to not break down organic waste,” the High Country Conservation Center website states. “Many people mistakenly believe that the landfill is a giant composting system. In reality, all of your leftovers, yard clippings, and organic wastes that go into the garbage do not turn into high-nutrient soil in the landfill. Organic substances need adequate oxygen, sunlight, and beneficial microorganisms to recycle naturally into compost.”A main challenge in the pilot project and in a long-term composting effort is re-educating the public about what’s garbage and what’s a resource that can be diverted from the landfill for recycling or reuse, Berg said.There’s also the challenge of making it as simple as possible for residents and promoting the sale of the compost to bring the process full circle.Which is where Faction & Company could come in.”Part of the pilot project is to show it can be done,” Berg said, “so an entrepreneur can take some of our information and run with it.”A newly launched private enterprise, Faction & Company, could act as a for-profit hauling and delivery service (hauling household organic waste and recyclables and delivering the finished product). The owners intend to continue services beyond the county’s three-month residential pilot program.”We’ve created a networking hub for waste diversion,” owner and operator Erick Becerril said of the partnership. Each can lend a hand to the other to implement the countywide composting initiative and to educate about the program. Faction & Company also plans to help collect data on waste diversion that can be used for education at the same time it advances the business.”It’s great we can work together and use each other’s resources to create soil, which is really what we’re doing,” Becerril said.Faction & Company services require a start-up fee for the collection bins as well as a monthly fee that varies according to how many individuals sign up at a location and how the bill is paid. A home analysis identifies the appropriate number of bins per home ,and the company provides information about what can go in them. A weekly pickup is provided for the triple-stream waste system – compost, recycling and traditional garbage.
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