Effective May of this year, Western is no longer processing the materials we collect into a finished compost product at our composting facility in Boulder. We will continue to accept residential yard waste and food waste, and commercial food waste from other hauling companies, as well as ourselves; grind the materials delivered to our facility to meet State of Colorado Emerald Ash Borer requirements; and then transfer it to another composting facility outside of Boulder County for processing into a final soil amendment product. The procedure will be the same as the one implemented by the City of Boulder when setting up a transfer site for Eco-Cycle and other Boulder commercial food waste haulers in Frederick, Colorado.
Most importantly, this is simply a change in where the material is actually composted, not how it is collected or in who can drop off compostables our facility. We are changing from a processing facility to a drop-off facility that will grind the materials and transport them to another state-permitted composting facility in Weld County. Western Disposal customers, City of Longmont residents and customers of any other hauling companies using our drop-off/transfer facility will see no change in the customer-facing services for either residential or business customers, and the amount of waste we divert from landfills will remain the same.
We have carefully studied all aspects of our composting process over the last 13 years and we are confident this is the best way forward. This is a financial decision tied to four key areas:
- The first is that we are facing a $750,000 necessary capital investment in our facility to continue processing materials into compost. The State of Colorado made changes to their regulations covering composting facilities in 2016 and we would have to make a $250,000 capital investment to build a lined retention pond for groundwater protection by May 2018. We would also have to make a $500,000 investment in equipment for replacement of machines that have exceeded their useful life in our 13 years of operations.
- Second, the resale market for the compost we make from residential yard waste with food and commercial food waste (based on our facility classification and the contaminants inherent in the material collected) is more limited, has a lower value, and we are unable to count on this market to help offset processing costs. Larger facilities with a classification that allows them to accept manures, bio-solids and other high nitrogen sources that do not contain the contaminants inherent in Municipal Solid Waste compost and can produce a more desirable end product with a higher market value which helps further offset their operational costs.
- The third consideration is the economy of scale. We take in and process into final product 17-20,000 cubic yards annually – this is about 8-10% of what A-1 Organics, the largest composter in Colorado, produces annually. As a result, our costs for capital expenditures, equipment and other related business items are amortized over a dramatically lower amount of production.
- The fourth is simply our location in the City of Boulder. Land is significantly more expensive here than it is in nearby Weld County. As a result, we pay dramatically more for the land used to compost than companies in other areas of Colorado. Clearly, this affects the cost to process compost and, ultimately, the collection costs due to a higher necessary tipping fee.
To summarize, this change to transferring from processing will not affect how compostable material is collected from the City of Boulder, Boulder County, City of Louisville or City of Longmont customers. Also, this change will not affect the amount of compostable materials that are being diverted. Transferring materials from our facility to a facility that can produce more marketable compost products at a lower cost will ensure the most economical collection costs to consumers and businesses.
We will continue to sell compost made from the materials we collect, and we will also be adding A-1 Organic’s BioComp® compost to the materials we sell at our Trash and Recycle Center. Click here for product information.