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County Composting Facility

Boulder County Composting Facility

In 2020, Boulder County submitted preliminary designs for building a compost facility at the old Rainbow Nursery (now county property) near the intersection of US 287 and Lookout Road in eastern Boulder County. In 2021, those plans were withdrawn from the review process and the county decided that a compost facility would not move forward at this location.

Project News

Update July 7, 2021 – The Public Works Department is currently in the process of hiring a Zero Waste Strategic Advisor who’s primary task will be working with staff and county residents on potential composting solutions. We hope to have someone on board in August. After they’re brought up-to-speed, they’ll begin community conversations to determine the best path forward. An announcement after the position is filled.

Update March 24, 2021 – Boulder County Commissioners remove Rainbow Tree Nursery site from consideration for the development of a compost facility. “While construction of a proposed facility will not move forward at this location, Boulder County remains committed to actively pursuing waste diversion solutions that will further the county’s goal of Zero Waste, or darn near, by 2025.” Read the complete statement.

Update March 4, 2021 – County Commissioners have directed staff to withdraw the Special Use Review application for a proposed composting facility at the former Rainbow Nursery site in Boulder County. Commissioners will continue to support waste diversion and climate action goals that promote soil health, reduce carbon emissions, and provide a compost stream for local farmers, landscapers, and other end users. Read the complete news release from the Commissioners’ Office.

Update March 1, 2021 – The Board of County Commissioners will hold a public meeting at 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 4 to consider a staff recommendation to withdraw a special use application – SU-20-0006 – in order to continue to gather and analyze new information, such as engineering and financing, for a potential Boulder County Composting Facility. Read the meeting memorandum.

As this is a public meeting, not a public hearing, no public testimony/comment will be taken. Public Works Director Jeff Maxwell will make a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners to assess new information and allow for more public dialogue about a compost facility in Boulder County.

Update Dec. 18, 2020 – Boulder County Public Works is reviewing comments from the public and referral agencies and departments regarding the proposed compost facility. The project team has informed Boulder County Community Planning and Permitting that it is not ready to proceed to a Planning Commission public hearing for consideration of the Special Use Review application. The project team will continue to analyze the construction and operation of the proposed facility and will refine plans, if warranted, to ensure that, if built, the location, buildings, and operations are environmentally sound and will operate with the original intent of the scope of the project. The project may be placed on the agenda for Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners public hearings in the future if and when the Boulder County Public Works Department determines that it is ready to proceed. Information will be posted here and sent to the project email listserv (register below) if and when there are any new developments, including public hearings.

Why Boulder County would build and operate a compost facility

The County Compost Processing Facility is a top priority for Zero Waste infrastructure need and will support the Board of County Commissioners’ Climate Action strategic priority, the Zero Waste Action Plan, the Environmental Sustainability Plan, and components of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan. The creation and implementation of the compost facility will help achieve our goal of Zero Waste or Darn Near by 2025 by capturing 20 to 30 percent of compostable county waste and increasing landfill diversion by five to 10 percent. The compost generated will be provided for area agricultural uses, which will help increase local, sustainable food production. Residents too will be able to drop-off compostable material and pick-up finished compost at the facility to use on their own lawns and gardens. Learn more about the benefits of composting.

Currently, compost gathered by commercial haulers throughout the county must be brought to a processing facility that is over 50 miles away (see maps below). That’s a 100-mile roundtrip for a large truck that pumps a lot of exhaust into the air and contributes to regional congestion. By having a facility within the county limits, the amount of miles traveled by haulers and the corresponding greenhouse gas emissions will significantly reduced.

Project Contact

For more information, contact Andrew Barth, Public Works Communications, at 303-441-1032 or via email.