Pitkin County, Colorado, has set up a diversion program to try to extend the life of its landfill, which includes a high volume of construction and demolition materials.
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Colorado county creates landfill diversion program for C&D materials

Facing a high volume of landfilled C&D materials, Pitkin County, Colorado, has created a tiered tipping fee system for unseparated materials.

November 23, 2022

With construction and demolition (C&D) debris accounting for nearly 52 percent of its landfill’s buried waste between January and September of this year, Pitkin County, Colorado, has created the Construction and Demolition Debris Diversion program which aims to divert C&D materials from the landfill, which is on pace to fill up in eight years, reports the Aspen Daily News.

According to Pitkin County, a 2016 analysis of the county’s landfilled waste stream revealed that 35 percent of the landfilled C&D material could have been recovered.

The program creates tiered tipping fees for C&D materials, which increase as tonnage increases:

  • Tier 1—for zero to 30 tons, cost is $98.25/ton
  • Tier 2—for 31-60 tons, cost is $118.25/ton
  • Tier 3—for 61 tons or more, cost is $138.25/ton
  • Tier 4—for mixed-waste loads including trash and recoverable materials, the cost is $198.25 per ton.

However, the county gives a break to contractors that source separate their materials. Source-separated loads do not count toward the tiered tonnage limits and are cheaper to dispose of, says the county.

Tipping fees for separated C&D materials range from $10.50-$15 per ton for rocks and dirt to $45 per ton for clean wood, concrete and porcelain and lighter organic materials, such as branches. There is no fee for cardboard and scrap metal loads, which are recycled, says the county.

To participate in the program, contractors must pay a deposit of $1,000 per ton of their estimated waste, which is refunded if they divert a minimum of 25 percent of their C&D materials, reports the Aspen Daily News. Of the deposits paid this year, about $8,500 has not been refunded.

The county also has implemented its Green Halo Dashboard, a system participating contractors use to demonstrate their diversion rate. The system also aggregates data for all the participating projects in Pitkin County, offering a snapshot of the county’s C&D diversion data.

However, the Aspen Daily News reports that city of Aspen and town of Snowmass Village don’t participate in the program, which lowers the county’s diversion rate and shortens the landfill’s life.

The paper quotes Pitkin County C&D Diversion Specialist Michael Port as saying that 20 percent of the county’s C&D projects participated in the diversion program, hurting the overall diversion rate. The county is considering expanding the program, requiring incorporated areas to participate, as well.