- Colorado's Pitkin County Landfill may have a lot more life than local officials realized, according to The Aspen Times. As it stands, the site is projected to reach capacity in about eight years. At most, they had identified a possible northern expansion that would buy an additional six years.
- Yet during a March 13 work session, the Board of County Commissioners was informed of a possible southern expansion that would add 5.6 million cubic yards of space and potentially extend the site's lifespan until 2073.
- Commissioners expressed interest in exploring this concept further, though it will require a lengthy regulatory approval process due to increased size and management costs. Solid Waste Manager Cathy Hall said her team would be submitting state permit documents for the northern expansion soon and recommended pursuing the southern expansion on a parallel track so as not to hold up the smaller project.
Pitkin County has been aware of its space constraints for years now, following a 71% increase in volume since 2010, that was driven in part by an uptick in construction and demolition debris. Because of this, officials have been exploring all options for the county's long-term waste management future.
A 2015 waste sort found more than half of the material being disposed was recyclable or compostable, prompting a "Talkin' Trash" educational campaign with cartoons. That $67,000 program was recognized with a Solid Waste Association of North America Excellence Award in 2017. The county is also working on composting and reuse programs.
Another option presented to the board was allowing the site to reach capacity in eight years and building a transfer station for exporting. Hall estimated that initial closure would cost $1.5 million and post-closure maintenance would be around $135,000 per year for 30 years. Though with current revenues of more than $7.1 million from the site, and the many costs involved with closing it, none of this is seen as the ideal option.
This expansion conversation comes as Colorado begins working toward its first-ever statewide recycling goal, set last year, of 28% diversion by 2021. According to a recent report from the Colorado Public Interest Research Group and Eco-Cycle, Pitkin County's own 40% diversion rate is the highest among mountain or rural areas in the state.