Community compost coming to Eagle County
Editor’s note: This is the first part in a series of stories about the food system and sustainability in Eagle County.
EAGLE COUNTY — Compostable waste from local businesses and restaurants travels 200 miles before its nutrient-rich soil returns to county land, said Shawn Bruckman, director of sustainability for Vail Honeywagon.
The reason the natural process of composting has to happen elsewhere is because Eagle County does not have a community compost center, which is a complicated and costly process. Neighboring areas including Summit County and Steamboat Springs have community compost centers, but they are often full with their own community’s compostable waste.
“It’s a really inefficient system and pretty crazy,” Bruckman said. “It makes it really hard to compost in our community, and really expensive.”
A community compost center, years in the making, is finally nearing fruition, thanks in large part to Eagle County putting emphasis on compost in its 10-year waste diversion goals set in 2012.
Vail Honeywagon won a county grant to help fund the costly construction of a compost center, which will be located near the landfill in Wolcott. It is a timely and costly process because of the dangers associated with compost to streams and the fact that an entirely new facility, similar to a landfill, will have to be built.
Vail Honeywagon also secured a state grant and has received lots of support from the community, including Vail Resorts.
“The whole point of all this money is we need to build the facility,” said Bruckman, who added it will take 10 months to finish. “Hopefully by next summer, 2017, we are producing compost. We’re a lot closer than we’ve ever been.”
While the community compost center would initially be for local businesses that produce the most waste, anyone is allowed to build their own personal compost.
However in Eagle County, where many residents live in apartments and condos, there simply isn’t the space nor an easy climate to have a personal compost. It is doable, however, Bruckman said.
“That’s an easy way that people can get involved right now to change their impact and their waste,” Bruckman said.
Cricket Pylman, of the Vail Public Library, is a fan of composting, even though she struggles with the cold weather and animals that go along with compostable waste.
“I’m always trying to promote it with kids,” said Pylman, adding that the library’s compost gets sent to Steamboat Springs. “I’m really excited at the prospect of it coming to our county.”
‘REVERSE WHAT’S HAPPENING’
Compost has many beneficial impacts to the environment. Many people are aware of reducing their carbon footprint, but compost helps combat methane gas, which contributes to climate change and is 24 times more potent than carbon dioxide, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
“We should also think about how we’re going to reverse what’s happening and what’s already up there,” Bruckman said. “If we have healthy soil, that’s actually the most impactful way that we can reverse the damage that’s already in the atmosphere.”
While Eagle County is a “little behind the curve,” Bruckman said, there is hope on the horizion.
“It’s really taken a community to get this together,” Bruckman said. “Vail Honeywagon has taken this step because of the demand from our customers, business partners and from our community.”
Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.