The Larimer County Waste Shed will Impact You & Your Disposal Costs

The Larimer County Waste Shed Projects and Policy Are Under Construction. See How They Will Affect You. — Part 1

If you live in Larimer County, you will be affected by the recent North Front Range Regional Waste Shed Project and Policy, also known as the LC Waste Shed. The current projects, listed in order of operation, include building a new landfill five miles North of Wellington, turning the existing Larimer County Landfill into a transfer station, and constructing new recycling facilities for yardwaste, construction and demolition, foodwaste, and a possible material recovery facility for single-stream materials.

Goals of The Waste Shed

The main goals of the waste shed are to increase recycling, composting, and other waste diversion programs by creating infrastructure, policy, and education for all who reside in the county. Additionally, the county and supporting communities will be given the ability to license, track, and enforce programs. The Waste Shed Master Plan was adopted by Larimer County Commissioners, December of 2018. At this same time, it was agreed to and signed by the governments of Fort Collins, Estes Park, Loveland, and Wellington.

Communities Affected

The Larimer County Waste Shed covers all of Larimer County. However, each community’s government can override the county’s jurisdiction. Currently, Berthoud, Windsor, and Timnath have not joined the intergovernmental agreement, stating they will support the above waste diversion and recycling efforts. It is uncertain if communities such as Johnstown and Windsor, who have residents in both Larimer and Weld counties, will need to or want to comply.

Policy to be Enacted

The two big policies to be enacted, to support the infrastructure investments, are:

*Construction and demolition waste (C&D) flow control: This is where mixed loads of construction and demolition debris must be sent to the county-owned processing facility for a period of ten years.

*Yard trimmings and food scraps diversion are where municipalities will develop policies and programs to divert organic waste from landfills.

In October 2019, the City of Loveland set the first flow control policy into action when they mandated all recycling collected must be taken to the LC Waste Shed facility for processing. In February 2020, the City of Fort Collins will begin the process of creating policy for foodwaste recycling collection, both commercially and residentially; this will help to move them closer to their zero waste goal. Today, both the transfer station and new landfill are under construction; the others will follow suite. All construction of the waste shed is expected to be completed in the next four years. It also appears that curbside recyclable materials will be under flow control policy as well.

Larimer County WasteShed Implementation PlanChanges to Your Bill

The Larimer County Waste Shed is stating landfill costs will be less than 10% of your current trash rate. Ideally, you will eventually throw away less trash once there are new recycle opportunities for yardwaste and food waste. The reality is, that with most recycling services, costs increase. The cost to process organics tends to be more expensive than trash.

For example, the cost to recycle curbside single-stream materials is four times higher than to dispose of trash at the Larimer County Recycle Center. We see these same 3-4 times higher rates for food waste recycling.

Outside of tipping fees, each service offered to a customer will need a cart for collection cart, a truck to pick it up, an employee to drive the truck, which add up to increased costs for communities. The bottom line is the cost for your garbage can and recycle bin will continue to get more expensive in Northern Colorado; we just do not know how much.

How Will all of This Impact You?

The big change is you will now have the ability to recycle foodwaste at your home and business. When this happens, you will have four bins: trash, recycle, yardwaste, and foodwaste. Although your costs will increase, many customers will feel good because you are reducing greenhouse gas emissions by keeping organics such as yardwaste, foodwaste, cardboard and paper out of the landfill!  For those in the construction industry, you will be able to mix materials such as cardboard, metal, concrete and wood together into one bin, rather than have several bins onsite. Costs will most likely increase but more material should end up getting recycled. These changes are just the beginning for the regional waste shed, as there are other factors that still need to be played out, such as implementing Pay-As- You-Throw tiered rate systems for residents. To find out more about the PAYT system, see Part 2A.