Local burgs on ‘zero-waste’ journey
SUMMIT COUNTY – Local towns diverted 294 pounds of trash away from the landfill earlier this month, as the Summit Recycling Project manned “zero-waste” stations at town cleanup day picnics and helped preplan the events to minimize waste generation from the outset.A week after the town picnics, SRP director Carly Wier and education coordinator Holly Loff spent their day conducting a waste audit.Frisco, for the second year in a row, was declared the winner of the friendly Least Wasteful Town Picnic competition, as determined by the percent of waste diverted within each town to account for the different sized picnics. Dillon came in at a close second with Silverthorne and Breckenridge taking third and fourth, respectively. “Frisco really cut trash by bringing a lot of the food in recyclable aluminum pans and serving beer in biodegradable cups that were thrown right in with the compost,” Wier said.
“Dillon had the event catered by the Arapahoe Café, which brought a lot of fresh homemade salads, virtually eliminating the opportunity for trash to get involved.”Wier said Dillon might have caught up with the zero-waste leader but it served chips in individual packages which raised the trash level above Frisco’s.”We dig through all of the bags to make sure that plastic, which is not compostable, is not ending up in the compost container and that recyclables aren’t being thrown away,” Loff said. “We also weigh all of the material and measure the volume of it,” she said. “(It’s) the best means to determining how much contamination we have.”The audits showed that all together, trash was reduced 75 percent from last year, from 508 gallons to just 123 gallons countywide.
“There is a saying that ‘Zero Waste is a journey not a destination’ and these picnics display that,” Loff said. “None of the towns have reached zero waste but they are on their way.”All of the plates at each of the towns were “tree-free” made from 100 percent recycled content, as were the napkins.Eating utensils were made from cornstarch, deeming them biodegradable and therefore compostable. Reusable cups were provided at each picnic for picnicgoers to bring home, eliminating the need to provide disposable cups. SRP encouraged the towns to buy in bulk rather than providing items in individual packages. When packaging couldn’t be avoided, SRP suggested recyclable material, such as paperboard, cardboard or aluminum.
Each of the picnics had a “Zero Waste Station,” a cluster of three containers, one each for recyclables, compostables and trash.Additionally an SRP staff member was posted at each station to help picnicgoers determine which waste item would go where.Plates, napkins, salad remnants, bun scraps and the biodegradable utensils were all items tossed into the compost container, while aluminum cans, plastic soda bottles and aluminum foil were discarded into the recycle bin, leaving only odds and ends to go to the landfill. At most of the town picnics, the trash was made up of mostly chip bags, plastic cookie trays, waxed cartons of potato salad, leftover meat products and a large amount of plastic wrap and bags. “Each of the towns should feel proud of their waste reduction levels, regardless of their standing in the Least Wasteful Town competition. The minimum reduction was 67 percent which is still a great achievement,” Wier said. Contact Summit Recycling Project at (970) 668-5703 to learn more about how to hold a “Zero Waste … Or Darn Near” event.
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