Three years after Denver launched its composting program, the verdict is in: citizens are letting the program go to waste. Less than 13% of eligible households are enrolled, according to 5280 magazine.
The program, launched in 2017, allows residents to discard organic waste in a designated bin that trash collectors pick up. It is aimed at helping to solve a landfill problem, notes 5280. Households that participate in the city’s program pay $10 per month and are provided a kitchen trash can with biodegradable bags for food scraps and the trash bin for compostable waste for city pickup.
Such actions can substantially reduce landfill issues. “Over 93% of the 40.7 million tons of food waste that the U.S. generates each year ends up in a landfill. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t rot away harmlessly when heaped with plastics, metals, and glass. In a landfill, organic matter is often trapped in plastic bags or covered by other trash, and deprived of the oxygen, moisture, and bacteria it needs to properly decompose,” notes 5280. When it finally decomposes, it releases methane, which accelerates climate change.
Studies have found that 14% of Denver’s landfill “waste stream” is food waste and 29% is yard waste.
According to 5280, 23,000 households are signed up for the city’s program (as of February 2020). The program is growing approximately 20% a year—too slow to meet city officials’ goals.
Awareness is part of the problem. “Somehow there’s a disconnect between our waste practices and our love of preserving this amazing state that we have. So I think there’s a lot the city could do to market that idea better,” former environmental journalist and advocate Christi Turner told 5280.
Interested? Find more details at: www.denvergov.org. Search for “Compost Collection Program.”