Compost program moving forward in Steamboat seeks restaurant buy-in |

Compost program moving forward in Steamboat seeks restaurant buy-in

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A six-month composting pilot program is moving forward after an approval Tuesday from Steamboat Springs City Council.

Collaborating with the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, the city of Steamboat Springs will partner with restaurants to bring food waste to a composting center near the Howelsen Rodeo Grounds.

The city already has three 10-yard dumpsters at the location, and will add a fourth dedicated to the composting program.

When council was last updated on the project, cost was a concern, and they requested more information about year-end finances. On Tuesday, Steamboat Springs Finance Director Kim Weber reported an estimated $2.1 million would be added to the city’s reserves from 2019.

The project has a start-up cost of $70,000, but $60,000 of that is a one-time cost to build an enclosure around the four dumpsters — something that is required under the Community Development Code.

“A lot of the cost is to bring our dumpsters into compliance,” Council President Jason Lacy said.

Weber said she is working on getting a grant that would cover half of the cost of the enclosure.

In terms of annual operating costs, Weber said she estimated $20,000 for “dumping and hauling fees.” The first request for funding is just for the six months, during which Weber said they anticipate emptying the dumpster once a week.

One of the council’s primary concerns was buy-in from area restaurants.

Madison Muxworthy, waste diversion director for the Sustainability Council, said they have about a dozen restaurants committed thus far.

“I think the restaurants are ready for this,” she said.

Muxworthy described months of conversations with restaurant owners, during which they addressed concerns. She’s talked to some who are already composting, and is targeting others who are some of the biggest producers of food waste.

The program will provide a pickup service for the restaurants, Muxworthy said, which was one of the biggest barriers expressed by the industry.

Programs in other towns have seen mixed results. The Pitkin County Landfill is viewed as a poster child — turning a profit of $370,925 in 2017 from its composting operation. 

However Glenwood Springs is considering eliminating its operation after recording losses of more than $329,000 each year, according to a report from The Aspen Times. However things look to be getting more profitable, according to a recent article in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

Organizers have said they hope to expand into a residential program.

Muxworthy noted regardless of what happens, the dumpsters will be used by the rodeo grounds.

Restaurant owners interested in participating are encouraged to email Muxworthy at

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.

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