Leadville race series aims for zero-waste in 2012 | VailDaily.com

Leadville race series aims for zero-waste in 2012

Janice Kurbjun
Summit Daily News
Daily file photoPart of the zero-waste effort includes volunteers and waste tents to help people put stuff in the right place.

The race series known for its Trail 100 run and bike competitions plans to go zero waste in 2012.

That means compost and recycling bins next to every trash bin – and scores of volunteers on hand to help the public sort where to put their trash.

It’s easy to say zero-waste, but organizations who take it on also confront a myriad of training, planning and executing challenges with a series that handles more than 30,000 event attendees over the course of the summer.

“Our participants are very supportive of increased recycling and composting efforts,” said event organizer Josh Colley, “Most people recycle at home and believe in the concept. We want our event organization to reflect that.”

It’s not that nothing goes to the landfill – some waste finds its way there – but the goal is to find an alternative home for just about everything else. That particular challenge is where High Country Conservation Center’s Lynne Greene has lent a hand by managing the zero-waste stream.

By her estimate, about half of last year’s trash will become compost – plates, cups, bowls and utensils will be corn-based per the decision of Leadville Race Series organizers. In addition, the Summit County Resource Allocation Park’s composting program can handle all food, including meat and dairy. Organic waste turns to nutritious soil within a matter of weeks and is sold locally for landscaping and reclamation projects.

Part of the logistics means finding a hauling partner that can ensure correct materials are collected and transferred to High Country Compost – which is where local Lake County hauler and event partner Green Wolf Recycling comes in. Greene said other zero-waste participants say partnerships are key to making it happen.

Composting can sound daunting, Greene said, but commercial systems have evolved so large events can dispose of compost the same way they do trash, with some added benefits to the community and the environment. That includes increased local soil production and decreased trash in the landfill.

Volunteers at the waste stations also help manage overflowing receptacles at major events.

“This is a good-neighbor thing to do and will show pride in our wonderful mountain city,” said Jaime Stuever, Leadville’s mayor. “Zero waste keeps our landfills from filling up and insures that our future generations will have a clean and bright future.”

Last year, Leadville Race Series organizers began recycling at all events, starting the zero-waste movement into action. Hiring High Country Conservation Center to handle the recycling and composting outreach and management makes them among others who use the services, including the Town of Frisco, which looks to the organization to handle summer events like the Frisco BBQ Challenge.

“When you are composting at this level, there are significant reductions in the amount of trash that will go to the Lake County landfill, and a bonus of significant greenhouse gas reductions,” Greene said, adding that the life expectancy of the landfill is a fiscal concern for the county, which will have to spend significantly when the current landfill is full to capacity.

Greene said she thinks the Leadville Race Series could achieve waste-diversion rates as high as 75 percent by the end of this year’s race series.

To volunteer, email lynne@highcountryconservation.org or call (970) 668-5703. Volunteering could mean preference for the 2012 lottery for the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race.

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