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North Front Range Regional Wasteshed Planning

The management of residual materials is a fundamental facet of community infrastructure, critical to public health, and to the environmental and economic wellbeing of the region.  As local governments, we have a responsibility to ensure materials management systems are sufficient, adaptable and sustainable. These systems must balance public and environmental health, economic impacts and community goals – not just locally, but regionally and globally as well.  These issues are most effectively addressed at a regional (county) wasteshed level with coordination between local municipalities, the County and private business.

As stewards of the public trust, the charter and charge of the North Front Range Regional Wasteshed Coalition is to responsibly address current solid waste management and resource recovery needs of the region, while considering infrastructure and policy that will meet community needs in the future.

Background

Representatives from regional public agencies concerned with waste and recycling have formed a coalition to collect information, listen to the public, and conduct long-term planning for the future of the regional wasteshed. The term “wasteshed” is used to describe an area where waste, much like water or air, does not adhere to boundaries. The regional wasteshed of Colorado’s north Front Range is an area in and around Larimer County consisting of all solid waste generated by residents and businesses from the cities, towns, and unincorporated areas. Current coalition members represent Larimer County, The City of Fort Collins, The City of Loveland, and The Town of Estes Park.

A new urgency for collaborative planning has been spurred by the inevitable, upcoming closure of the Larimer County landfill (expected around 2025) and by predictions of continued regional population growth.

Research and Engagement

A preliminary Regional Wasteshed Planning Study was researched and prepared in 2016 to better understand how the region handles waste now and what opportunities and challenges exist in the future. The report provides detailed information for the Coalition and the public regarding the following subjects:

  • Current conditions within and around Larimer County
    • Existing transfer, disposal and processing infrastructure
    • Diversion practice and policy
  • Current and future waste handling
    • Summary of waste generation in the Wasteshed
    • Projections of waste generation increases (based on population growth)
  • Assessment of current infrastructure’s ability to handle future waste
  • Feasible options for future infrastructure to manage garbage and recycling and encourage greater resource recovery
  • Approximate costs and benefits associated with possible infrastructure
  • Funding approaches for consideration

View the full Regional Wasteshed Planning Study here.

During the summer of 2016, more than 1,200 Larimer County residents responded to a survey regarding their recycling habits and attitudes. View the complete survey report here.

Survey responses and information from the Planning Study were used to design public forums, four of which were held in the fall of 2016 with the help of CSU's Center for Public Deliberation. View the forum raw data report here.

During 2017 the Wasteshed Coalition will more closely analyze options for future regional infrastructure to better understand their potential economic and environmental impacts. Further in-depth public engagement will occur and recommendations from the Coalition are anticipated by the fall of 2017.

Current Conditions and Projections

Population Totals (QuickFacts, US Census, 2014)

Larimer Berthoud Estes park Fort Collins Loveland Wellington
324,122 5,807 6,165 156,480 72,651 7,185
Bar chart showing projected population growth in Larimer County from roughly 325,000 in 2015 to 475,000 in 2040

Larimer County’s homes and businesses currently generate as much as 400,000 tons of trash every year, and most of that trash ends up buried in public and private landfills. Population growth in Larimer County is rapidly increasing; the CO State Demography Office estimates that the county population will increase to 388,866 within the next ten years.

Solid Waste Production Rates

Estimated Per Capita MSW Generated Source
United States 4.4 lbs/day EPA: Municipal Solid Waste
Colorado 8.8 lbs/day CDPHE: Annual Solid Waste Diversion Totals
Larimer County 7 lbs/day 2007 Larimer County Waste Composition Study

At the current rate of trash generation – approximately seven pounds per person per day – the county could reach 500,000 tons of garbage generated per year within the decade. Approximately half of all waste generated in Larimer County is disposed of at the public landfill. A 2007 composition study of the landfill revealed that a third of what is buried could have been recycled and another third had the potential to be composted.

Pie chart showing the makeup of the Larimer County waste stream - roughly 43% recyclables, 32% compostables, and 26% other material

Current Wasteshed Conditions Map

Map of landfill, recycling and composting facilities in Larimer County

Regional Wasteshed Planning Coalition

In the north Front Range region, responsible solid waste management has long been a shared goal of the governing agencies within Larimer County. The sister cities of Loveland and Fort Collins collaborated with the County to open a jointly owned landfill (5887 N. Taft Hill Rd) in 1972 to ensure environmental regulations can be met for trash disposal in our region. With a closure date for the Larimer County landfill approaching (2025), these partners plus the neighboring community of Estes Park are once again working together, to evaluate waste management needs and develop guidance plans into the next 50-100 years.

The Coalition was formed in 2015 to address the future of solid waste management in light of the upcoming Larimer County landfill closure. The Coalition includes a Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) made up of elected officials from Fort Collins, Loveland, Estes Park, and Larimer County, and a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) made up of staff members from the same entities.

City of Fort Collins logo Larimer County logo City of Loveland logo City of Estes Park logo

The current members of the Wasteshed Coalition's Policy Advisory Committee are:

  • City of Loveland Councilmember, Leah Johnson (chair)
  • City of Fort Collins Mayor, Wade Troxell (co-chair)
  • City of Fort Collins Councilmember, Ross Cunniff
  • Town of Estes Park Mayor Pro Tem, Wendy Koenig
  • Larimer County Commissioner, Steve Johnson

The Coalition received $48,750 from the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment to support public outreach and the development of a Wasteshed report during 2016. The effort to move our region from an approach of solid waste disposal management to one of resource recovery and materials management will require ongoing engagement with stakeholders from across the region.

Public Engagement

2015

In October, 2015 a group of 45+ people from throughout Larimer County and the north Front Range met in a day-long, facilitated meeting to discuss long-term planning for a shift from solid waste management to resource recovery. Aided by CSU’s Center for Public Deliberation and facilitators from Larimer County, attendees listened to presentations and then broke into round-table conversations to deliberate in small groups. Conversations were vigorous among the cross-section of stakeholders. It was apparent that people were teaching each other what they knew about fundamentals of waste management, recycling, and composting as well as sharing perspectives about the importance of treating waste as a resource while being mindful of costs. You can find reports and presentation slides, including the "raw data" table notes and ideas from the easels showing the extent and breadth of forum input, by following the links below:

2016

The Regional Wasteshed Coalition produced a comprehensive Regional Wasteshed Report and conducted considerable public engagement around the issues of resource recovery and materials management in the north Front Range, including a county-wide survey and four public forums in September.

Timeline graphic showing the future of wasteshed planning and management in Larimer County

Optimizing waste reduction and diversion efforts within Colorado’s north Front Range through careful study, engagement, and collaboration between residents, businesses, and governments has the potential to greatly reduce our environmental footprint while also spurring innovation and job growth.

Get Involved

Your input in this planning process is greatly appreciated! Please help to identify key issues and ideas for how to address the future of solid waste management in the greater Larimer County region.

If you have suggestions, ideas, or comments please submit them here. Check back to this site for regular updates and sign up to receive project updates by requesting the "Wasteshed Planning Updates" newsletter here.

Coalition TAC Contact info

General email: wasteshedproject@larimer.org
Larimer County Solid Waste (970) 498-5762
Stephen Gillette gilletsw@co.larimer.co.us
City of Loveland Solid Waste & Recycling (970) 962-2529
Mick Mercer mick.mercer@cityofloveland.org
Tyler Bandemer tyler.bandemer@cityofloveland.org
City of Fort Collins Environmental Services (970) 221-6600
Susan Gordon sgordon@fcgov.com
Caroline Mitchell cmitchell@fcgov.com
Honore Depew hdepew@fcgov.com
Estes Park Town Administration (970) 577-3700
Frank Lancaster flancaster@estes.org
Background Image: Cirque Meadows by Adam Johnson. All rights reserved.