City adding mandatory compost service to waste program

Prices will increase but composting should allow some to save

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/6/21

Most Golden residents will soon see an increase in how much they pay for trash and recycling service. But city leaders say that's because they will be paying for a new service that will allow many of …

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City adding mandatory compost service to waste program

Prices will increase but composting should allow some to save

Posted

Most Golden residents will soon see an increase in how much they pay for trash and recycling service. But city leaders say that's because they will be paying for a new service that will allow many of them to save money in the long run.

On June 7, the Golden City Council unanimously instructed city staff to move forward with finalizing a contract with Republic Services, Inc. to become the city's new provider of single hauler waste collection services for the next five years.

Republic Services will take over for GFL Environmental, which has provided trash and recycling services to around 4,500 households in Golden since 2015.

This time around, the city had received five bids from companies seeking to provide waste collection services to the city with four of the five bids being very competitive in terms of pricing, Golden Sustainability Manager Theresa Worsham said.

However, Worsham wrote in a memo to the council that she was recommending the city go with the bid from Republic Services, in large part because staff felt Republic's bid suggested it would be able to provide a higher level of customer service than GFL Environmental had during its run as the city's provider.

“We've had a fair amount of customer service complaints kind of increase over the last couple of years…,” said Worsham. “One thing that we have been consistently hearing is reoccurring missed pick ups of the same streets or the same alleys or the same addresses.”

As a result of those issues, Worsham said the city tried to take a more proactive approach by asking each of the haulers to address how it would handle customer service, especially communicating with customers about delays or missed pickups, in their bids. That is not a step the city had taken in the past.

The other big change that will come with the contract, and the one that will impact prices, is the addition of a compost service that all users of the program will now be required to pay for. Previously, Golden had offered compost pick-up on a voluntary basis with customers paying the hauler an extra fee for that service.

But in her memo to the city council, Worsham said city staff were recommending that the city implement an embedded or mandatory compost offering because information from other Front Range communities already offering such a program suggested that it would provide the city's best available option for increasing the city's waste diversion rate (the rate at which waste is diverted from trash to recycling).

The city's sustainability plan states that it is targeting to reach a citywide diversion rate of 80% by 2030. However, Worsham said its actual diversion rate has remained at around 30% with little change for the past 10 years. Both Boulder and Louisville have embedded composting programs and diversion rates of around 50%.

Depending on the size of their trash can, the cost of service will increase by around $6 to $10 a month as a result of adding compost service. But both Mayor Laura Weinberg and Councilman Rob Reed said households could end up actually paying less as a result of the move to embedded compost - assuming they actually use the compost service.

“I think for many customers who haven't been doing the voluntary they can go from a 96-gallon [trash can] down a size with the addition of compost and they will save money just by decreasing the size of their trash can,” said Weinberg.


However, Weinberg said customers who already have the smallest trash can, a 32-gallon one, will see their rates significantly increase without being able to switch to a smaller trash can or otherwise reduce their price.

Worsham later added that the offering of embedded compost service will also encourage people to compost by allowing them to reduce their trash can size by doing so while making those who choose not to do so to pay for that choice, which should have the effect of encouraging more people to compost than otherwise might.

The council is now scheduled to take public comment on the contract on July 13. A final vote on the contract will likely follow that discussion. A second meeting, where council will discuss the actual rates residents will be charged for trash service will be held on.

During the meeting, Worsham said the council was to hear public comment on a finalized contract and vote on it at the meeting on May 15. However, that discussion did not take place.

Following approval of the contract, the council will hold another meeting where it will set the rates the council will actually pay the city for service. The new hauling contract will start in August.

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