Scraps to Soil

By | September 08, 2016
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The SCRAPS program is open to all residents between Aspen and Carbondale. Photo: 123RF

Cultivating Community

Pitkin County’s composting program kicks food waste to the curb

No more excuses, neighbors: SCRAPS is making home and business composting easier than ever. A joint effort of the Pitkin County Solid Waste Center and Aspen’s Department of Environmental Health and Sustainability, the SCRAPS program seeks to divert the area’s organic waste, transform it into rich soil and keep it out of the county’s evershrinking landfill.

“About 40 percent of the county’s waste is compostable paper and food scraps,” says Jack Johnson, the Solid Waste Center’s education and outreach coordinator. “If it’s been alive at some point, we can probably compost it.” That means residents can relegate to the SCRAPS heap everything from apple cores and moldy bread to egg cartons, pizza boxes and old flower arrangements.

“If we can divert that 40 percent, we could extend the life of our landfill by nearly 10 years,” Johnson explains. “Currently we estimate that the Pitkin County Landfill has less than 15 years left, so if we act now it will be available for necessary things much longer.”

Founded as a smaller program in 2010, a substantial grant helped SCRAPS expand significantly in 2015. With those additional funds, Johnson and his team members were able to ramp up community awareness efforts and break down participation barriers (read: excuses).

“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for Valley residents to compost,” adds Johnson, noting that the program is open to all residents between Aspen and Carbondale. SCRAPS lends free indoor buckets to individuals and bear-proof totes and dumpsters to businesses, HOAs and apartment complexes. Once the containers are full, local hauler EverGreen ZeroWaste offers the convenience of affordable curbside pickups for both commercial and residential participants. Or, residential composters can choose to empty their own buckets at the Pitkin County Landfill free of charge.

“Education plus free containers and free drop-off has made a significant difference,” Johnson says. “It’s helped our participation numbers increase dramatically.”


For more information about SCRAPS visit or contact Jack Johnson at jack. or 970.429.2885. To arrange curbside pickups with EverGreen ZeroWaste, visit or call 970.987.3140.

Photo 1: Wheeler Clancy, a residential participant in SCRAPS, notes that separating his food scraps has created a greater awareness of the waste he produces, encouraging him to find ways to reduce at the source. Photo: Jack Johnson
Photo 2: View from the Pitkin County Composting Facility, looking toward Woody Creek. The Landfill is located at mile marker 32 on Highway 82, between Aspen Village and Wildcat Ranch. Pitkin County Landfill. Photo: Jack Johnson
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