West Vail residents could lose curbside composting option
West Vail residents that participate in the town’s curbside composting program could lose the option unless more residents sign up.
“So unfortunately, (Vail) Honeywagon has let us know that there’s not a critical mass of participation to continue the West Vail pilot program, and we need 40 more folks to sign up,” said Beth Markham, the town of Vail’s environmental sustainability manager, at the Tuesday, April 4 Town Council meeting.
The town started the pilot program for curbside composting in July 2021. According to Markham, it has seen relatively steady participation program since it started, with 35 households and one homeowner’s association (with 24 units) participating.
“Since the program started, the participants have diverted about 18 tons of organic material from the landfill,” Markham said.
The town currently subsidizes this program by 50%, making the cost to residents $8 a month to participate.
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“If we get the critical mass needed to continue, the West Vail program will be open to West Vail residents who live along the valley floor throughout West Vail from Sandstone to Arosa Drive on North Side, Intermountain to Matterhorn Neighborhood on the South side. West Vail neighborhoods above the valley floor (i.e. Potato Patch) will be considered on a case-by-case basis,” Markham said.
If the town does not achieve this critical mass and the service is discontinued, Markham told the council on Tuesday that it is looking into other options to continue the service.
Why composting matters
One of the main benefits is it can decrease the amount of organics — primarily food waste — that end up in the landfill.
“Ultimately this helps to reduce organic material going into the landfill, which creates methane gas, a greenhouse gas that is 80% more potent than carbon dioxide in the short term in terms of climate pollution,” Markham said. “In terms of reducing GHG emissions related to waste, diverting organics from the landfill is one of the most impactful actions we can take.”
This organic material currently makes up 37% of all waste going to the landfill, she added.
“Composting can greatly increase waste diversion and a curbside program with weekly pick up makes it very easy and convenient,” Markham said. “We would love to see this program expand to the entire town.”
Additionally, Vail Honeywagon, which has its own composting facility in Wolcott, transforms the waste into fertile compost that local residents and commercial enterprises can purchase and use in their own gardening.
“The compost that is created from the organic material goes back to the local community to be used as a soil amendment providing additional nutrients to help grow more plants and produce,” Markham said. “These plants that grow actually help sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the soil through photosynthesis as well, helping in reduction of GHG emissions.”
Other ways to compost
While the West Vail program is the only curbside compost option in the town currently, there are other composting options available to locals:
- Residents can sign up through Vail Honeywagon to drop off their compost (Honeywagon will provide a 5-gallon locking bucket to collect compost).
- Residents can drop off their compost at the compost-only dumpster at the Vail Recycling Center once they receive a code to unlock it.
- Businesses can participate in a business compost pilot program in the town.
Plus, in addition to attempting to build West Vail’s “critical mass,” it is also collecting the names and addresses of East Vail residents interested in curbside composting.
“If we get 75 or more households to express interest, Vail Honeywagon will consider expanding the curbside compost program to East Vail,” Markham said. “At this time we encourage anyone else wanting to compost organics to sign up for the subscription drop-off program through Vail Honeywagon.”
For more information about Vail Honeywagon composting, call 970-476-3511 or visit VailHoneywagon.com. For more information about the town of Vail’s compost programming, or to sign up and show your interest in participating in the curbside compost program, visit LoveVail.org/compost.