Larimer County plans to build five new facilities for trash between 2022 and 2024.
Jacy Marmaduke, firstname.lastname@example.org
Larimer County leaders want policy changes to support plans for a new landfill and sites for recycling, food scraps, yard waste and construction debris. The county’s solid waste department has saved about $41 million to pay for the new infrastructure and will finance the remaining $14 million without using tax revenue. Here’s where most of your trash will go come 2024 (or earlier) and how the new infrastructure could affect you.
Yard waste and food scraps
Yard waste and food scraps will go to side-by-side facilities where yard waste is composted with open windrows and where food scraps are composted in an enclosure to reduce odors. The yard waste facility is slated to open in 2022; the food scraps facility is slated to open in 2024. The two sites together will cost about $11.8 million.
The planning coalition that crafted the county waste management plans initially recommended a landfill ban on yard waste but is now recommending policies and programs that encourage communities to send yard waste to the new composting facility. Yard waste pickup is an opt-in service in Fort Collins and has a 12 percent participation rate, said Fort Collins senior environmental planner Caroline Mitchell.
More: Larimer County’s new landfill, recycling and composting sites will change your trash habits
The planning coalition called food scraps pickup “typically the largest hurdle in developing facilities to handle food waste” and didn’t recommend any rules on that front yet. Food scrap collection can be hard to roll out because it’s a bigger ask for haulers and community members, but the coalition suggested starting with businesses.
Construction and demolition debris will go to a $13.7 million sorting facility where manual labor and machines will separate the debris into materials that the county can sell on the open market. It’s scheduled to open in 2022. The coalition recommends a mandate that builders send all their waste to this facility for 10 years, unless they sort their waste themselves.
Honore Depew, a Fort Collins senior sustainability specialist and member of the planning coalition, said it would likely save builders money overall. Fort Collins builders currently separate most of their waste for recycling because of a city ordinance, and the new policy would allow them to send it all to the same place and save on compliance costs.
Previously: Larimer leaders plan new landfill, mandatory yard waste composting
It’s dire: Larimer County Landfill just a few years away from filling up
This facility will likely be a public-private partnership.
Fort Collins has long been a regional leader in the realm of construction waste, which represents a huge chunk of landfilled trash on the ballooning Front Range. Fort Collins has the best overall recycling rate in the state for residential, commercial and industrial waste — 55 percent — largely because 70 percent of its industrial waste is recycled, according to the 2018 “State of Recycling in Colorado” report.
Recycling and everything else
Recycling will still go to the Larimer County Recycling Center, which will see $3 million in upgrades. The coalition suggested community policies requiring all mixed recycling to go to the county-run center.
Gallegos Sanitation takes issue with that suggestion because of recycling’s uncertain future. Recyclable materials are worth very little money and have been harder to sell since China stopped buying American recyclables.
If the recycling center gets enough material, the county will look to build its own recycling sorting and processing facility.
The county currently sends recyclables from the recycling center to a processing center in Denver. Having a center here in Larimer County would eliminate transportation costs and could make recycling cheaper for residents, Depew said.
Garbage that can’t go to any of the aforementioned places will end up at a transfer station on the current landfill site, where haulers will collect trash for trucking to the new landfill 25 miles north. The new landfill could be the last public landfill in Larimer County. It will cost $11.7 million and is expected to open in 2023.
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Related: Windsor is moving its recycling center and ending yard waste collection
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