By Naomi Curland, Shari Malloy, and Mary Headley

The article on the front page of the Times Call on the 16th launched its opt-in composting program in 2017.

While this is a good start, Sustainable Resilient Longmont’s (ZWC / SRL) Zero Waste Committee would like to remind the city council that there is still much to be done. After dire warnings about the need for immediate action against our air pollution and climate change, the city must redouble its commitment to protecting our environment and building smart, sustainable communities. When Longmont first considered a community composting program, many residents had voted in favor of the opt-out model, which studies by consultants said would result in a much higher participation rate, but the city council decided to opt-in composting, Because they have a step-by-step approach of stairs. ”However, after reading that the city has decided not to continue any of the actions we are committed to improving this valuable service this year, we are disappointed that the city appears to be taking the first step Has stalled.

Why is composting important? In short, composting reduces waste, saves landfill space, improves soil health, increases agricultural production, saves water and helps combat climate change and air pollution. About 40% of the landfills in Coloradans are organics like leftover food, garden waste, and shredded paper, all of which can be composted. When organic substances are dumped, methane is produced, which causes global warming many times worse than CO2. Composting organic matter instead eliminates this problem. In addition, when compost is added to the soil, it removes carbon from the air, which improves our poor air quality. In addition, the topsoil is enriched as compost binds carbon and stores it underground. Healthier soil creates plants that are more resistant to disease and drought, reducing the need for harmful pesticides, fertilizers and excess water. Composting not only improves food production, it also improves the taste and nutritional value of our food.

SRL is not the only group that supports increased composting services. Longmont’s Climate Action Task Force report recommends that the city increase composting in 75% of all households and businesses by 2025. More composting options are also in line with the city’s sustainability plan, and Polis’ latest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Roadmap states that methane emissions from landfills are necessary to meet government air quality goals. A responsible, comprehensive and well-staged concept for diverting composting material from the landfill and converting it into valuable products should be a priority for the city. Making compost products commercially viable for nearby agricultural and landscaping uses is why SRL is also supporting Boulder County’s efforts to build a local composting facility.

Longmont’s composting program requires residents to take an extra step to do the right thing, which adds to the low participation rate of 22%, a rate that city officials believe is unlikely to change with the current opt-in program becomes. SRL continues to advocate universal roadside compost collection to significantly increase this rate. Longmont residents are not asked if they want to opt for garbage collection or recycling, as the city recognizes the value of responsible disposal of these items. we ask why compostable materials should be treated differently, especially given our climate emergency and the many benefits of composting. If all residents were provided with a composting service, the economy could also offer different options, such as the often requested smaller container sizes. Louisville, Lafayette, Boulder, and Lyons all have a universal composting service and, as a result, better landfill diversion rates. It’s time for Longmont to at least take the next step up the stairs to catch up.

While SRL appreciates the good work Longmont has done to date in its waste diversion efforts, the city can and must do better. Now is the time for the city to take the climate crisis seriously and invest in our future. The city council has an important opportunity to drive systematic design changes to our waste services and towards a sustainable economy that enables Longmont residents to move the needle in the right direction by offering a universal roadside compost collection and an accompanying educational program. SRL and its Zero Waste Committee are committed to working with the city in this effort.

Authors Naomi Curland, Shari Malloy and Mary Headley write a more responsible community for the Sustainable Resilient Longmont Zero Waste Committee.