Boulder County is launching a nifty initiative that will help eight rural communities and townships, as well as a couple of rural homeowner associations have a chance to offer greater resource conservation opportunities to their constituents.
Thanks to a zero-waste grant from the Department of Agriculture, residents of Allenspark, Lyons, Jamestown, Gold Hill, Nederland, Eldorado Springs, Eldora and Ward will benefit from technical assistance, education and outreach provided by a new part-time hire.
Lisa Friend, a sustainability planner with the Boulder County commissioners office, says that while the “plains” communities such as the cities of Boulder, Longmont and Louisville have access to curbside recycling for things like mixed materials and composting on a regular basis, not every mountain community has those opportunities.
Friend says that she’d love to be able to help make those opportunities happen for the residents of those communities — whether it’s to help them promote existing opportunities, look at new service options, consider new infrastructure or assess appropriate technology choices. She adds that new programs and services will be determined by what each community would find useful and the what is economically feasible for the haulers.
In 2005, the county adopted an aggressive zero-waste resolution: to have 50 percent recycling by 2010, and zero waste, or “darn near,” by 2025. (At the moment, it’s estimated that the baseline diversion rate throughout the entire county stands at approximately 31 percent.) So what is meant by zero waste? According to the county’s draft Zero Waste Plan, “Zero Waste encompasses manufacturing, purchasing, reuse, recycling and composting of all the materials we use, with safe disposal as a last resort.”
During the comment period for the Zero Waste Plan held earlier this year, the public made approximately 90 suggestions. With the assistance of the Resource Conservation Advisory Board, the recommendations were narrowed down to 28. It’s believed that these 28 recommendations will take most of Boulder County to a 70 percent diversion rate within the next 10 years.
The additional 30 percent needed by 2025 still needs to be addressed.
The draft Zero Waste Plan is expected to be presented to the county commissioners sometime this fall for adoption. Once the plan is approved by the commissioners, it will be presented to the municipalities of Boulder County on a cityby-city basis, in an effort to work with both staff and elected officials to gain their support and adoption.
At that point, mountain municipalities and communities will be encouraged to choose the recommendations they feel would be most appropriate to implement in their towns; particularly in regards to incorporating bear-proofing, fire safety or water quality considerations that are unique to those communities.
Currently, the state estimates that the average recycling rate of mountain communities is 12.5 percent or lower. The county would like to support and encourage these communities to double that rate, to 25 percent.