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Englewood teams up with Compost Colorado to bring composting to city facilities

Posted at 2:37 PM, Jun 22, 2024

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Englewood is the first municipality to partner with Compost Colorado to bring composting containers to all city buildings.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), methane gas is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping atmospheric heat and makes up about 16% of global emissions. A new internal city-wide program in Englewood aims to cut back on methane gas emissions, starting with employee food scraps.

"If you are taking your banana peels and throwing them in the trash, that goes to the landfill, where it generates methane gas because it's trapped in styrofoam and plastic and it's broken down anaerobically. Instead, you can turn that banana peel, those coffee grounds into compost, which reduces and eliminates that methane and, in exchange, makes a really healthy, nutrient-rich compost soil amendment," said Vann Fussell, founder of Compost Colorado.

The company offers residential and commercial compost pick-up to communities across the Front Range. They typically divert around 50,000 pounds of scraps and compostable products away from landfills each week.

In the last week, Compost Colorado launched something new — a partnership with the City of Englewood.

"This is one of the first kinds of partnerships we've developed with a municipality," said Fussell.

Compost Colorado bins can now be found in about 20 break rooms for city employees.

"City staff can utilize it after lunch if they have a banana peel or anything organic. They can put it in this bin and know that they're helping with waste diversion," said Melissa Englund, Englewood's sustainability program manager who has been working for years with Compost Colorado to launch the program.

The program was funded through money from the Public Works budget — $570 as a one-time start-up fee and a monthly payment of $685. That includes 20 bins and multiple 64-gallon roll-offs that will be located at the Civic Center, the police department, the Service Center, Malley Senior Center, South Platte Renew and the Englewood Recreation Center.

Public Works staff saw firsthand just how much compostable material was heading straight to the dump in the trash.

"Right now, we currently have recycling. We do the trash removal, and we do look at what we're throwing away. With a lot of food and a lot of product that can be in compost, we decided it'd be a really good program to add," said Ron Thornton, deputy director of Englewood Public Works.

The bins are expected to have a big impact once all 600+ city employees join in.

"The first few weeks you might expect, you know, about one or two tons of diversion across their municipal buildings. But that might snowball into maybe even 10 tons a week from across all their departments," said Fussell.

Organizers hope the commitment to composting spreads beyond the government buildings. The city has posted signage and hosted lunch-and-learns to give their employees information on how to properly compost.

"We hope that they take that information and bring it home to their friends and families and get them excited about composting, too," said Englund.

"If your city leaders aren't recycling and composting, it's hard for you as a resident to feel that it's your responsibility to do that, so I appreciate Englewood. They're setting a good example to their community," said Fussell. "I'm really hopeful that these other municipalities that we operate in Broomfield, Westminster, Arvada, Lakewood, Centennial, Highlands Ranch, all of these municipalities adopt a similar practice, and we can divert as much food waste from the landfill as we can."

Englewood does offer community compost drop-off at the recreation center. Residents need to sign up with Compost Colorado for $5/week to have 24/7 access to the bin there. The residential bin was launched in May 2023 and since then, 2,820 lbs of organic waste has been diverted, according to the city.

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