February
8 - 2010

Denver to continue city compost pilot for $90 a year

Last month, I wrote about a grassroots effort to save the City of Denver, Colorado’s city composting pilot program. The program collects compostable waste in big green carts from 3,300 homes in select (mostly well-to-do … this plays a part in a moment) neighborhoods. The pilot program had grant funding, but because the city, like so many others, is facing an enormous budget shortfall, the program was set to expire March 1.

Now, however, The Denver Post reports that residents can continue the program for a $90 annual fee, billed in three installments throughout the year. Denver residents do not pay for trash or recycling collection — that is, those fees are included in property tax — so the fee is unusual. In other city waste management news, we’ve had changes this year to large-item pickup (now scheduled every 9 weeks on a rotating schedule, instead of every other week) and hazardous waste collection (previously, it was free once per year; now it costs a $20 co-payment).

One commenter on the article suggested that instead of charging fees to people who are reducing waste by composting it, the city should charge everyone for trash collection. That sounds reasonable to me (and is a suggestion I supported on a survey circulated last year by our mayor, which reached us via our City Council member’s newsletter, on citizens’ opinions of how the city should resolve its budget deficit).

However, I think part of the argument for charging for the composting program is that it is in high demand, and seen almost as a privilege to participate — in part because the city composting program collects more than most people can adequately compost at home. And because service targets more privileged neighborhoods, most customers will likely be willing and able to pay for the service.

If you are interested in learning more about Denver’s city compost program, its Web site features an Organics Program page here.

For more information on home composting, here are some links that might interest you:

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