Longmont Issues 21-Day Challenge to Reduce Trash

April 4, 2018 GMT

Longmont’s trash reduction challenge

What: Longmont is challenging the city’s residential solid waste collection customers to pledge to send less trash to the landfill.

When: People can sign up online through May 14 to participate in the challenge at bit.ly/longmont-21daychallenge and enter a drawing for gift cards they can use at downtown Longmont businesses.

More information about the city’s solid waste services can be viewed at LongmontColorado.gov/solidwaste

Longmont is challenging the city’s residential solid waste collection customers to pledge to compost or recycle more of their trash and send less to the landfill.

City officials are inviting residents to participate in what’s being called a “21-Day Challenge” for them to commit to recycling and composting more of their household, yard and garden waste items.

That name, according to a city news release, is “hinged on the notion that it takes 21 days to instill a habit and make significant and lasting change.”

It doesn’t mean that people signing up to pledge their trash reduction efforts have to achieve their personal goals within 21 days, said Holly Milne, the Department of Public Works communications and operations manager.

But people who sign up online between now and May 14 to accept the challenge are being asked to make personal commitments to do their part, “no matter how big or how small,” in shrinking the non-recyclable and non-compostable items collected by city Waste Services Division crews.

“That could be anything,” said Milne, ranging from a promise to recycle all plastic bottles to joining the city’s program for curbside collections of compostable items.

Milne said the “21” also ties in to April 21, the day that the city and other Longmont organizations will be holding activities in observance of Earth Day — although people can sign up with their challenge commitments now, and not wait until then.

Participants in the 21-Day Challenge will get emails with tips and information about the city’s waste reduction services and will be entered into a drawing for gift cards the winners can spend at downtown Longmont merchants.

Most Longmont residents pay more for trash service than they need and could save money by moving to smaller, cheaper trash carts, city officials have said.

“Trash cart size is the main factor in your monthly waste service cart,” said Charles Kamenides, the city’s waste services manager.

“So, if you’re not filling your cart between pickups, why not get a smaller one and pay less?”

Kamenides said that “pay as you throw” system works like water or electric rates, with people paying more for the larger carts.

Longmont’s monthly trash rates are $24 for a 96-gallon can and $12.90 for a 48-gallon can, both with weekly pickup; $6.50 for a 48-gallon can at every-other-week pickup; and $6.60 for composting every other week. Recycling is included at no additional charge.

Even residents who opt for paying the additional expense of city collections of compostable items can help Longmont haul less yard waste, branches, food, soiled paper, shredded paper and other organic materials to the landfill, officials said.

A review of the 21-Day Challenge was part of a presentation that Milne, Kamenides and Bob Allen, the department’s operations director, made to the City Council on Tuesday night about Longmont’s solid waste services and its plans for stepped-up efforts to increase waste diversion.

Milne also showed council members pictures of a cartoon alley cat, “Savvy Sam, Waste Prevention Specialist,” which the city will be using in promoting waste-diversion programs.

“Residents can expect to see Savvy Sam pop up in lots of different messages we put out,” Milne said. She said the idea behind an alley cat was that “he knows what people are putting out in their trash.”

The cartoon character was suggested by Avocet Communications, a Longmont consulting firm that has a city contract for helping develop waste-reduction strategies, campaigns and materials. Avocet could be paid up to $157,821 this year, depending on how much the city uses the company, Milne said. She said that thus far, the city has spent about $40,000 for Avocet’s contributions.

Solid waste diversion is in the best interests of Longmont residents, the city staff told the council Tuesday, partly because landfills can contribute to regional air pollution by emitting dangerous greenhouse gases such as methane.

Also, the staff said, the future availability of affordable landfill space is uncertain. Landfills are unpopular, and officials predict that future sites close to Longmont will be harder to find.

The staff reported that Longmont now picks up about 130 tons of solid waste from its residential customers each curbside collection day, but at least half of that would easily be recycled or composted. However, customers currently put only about 33 tons of solid waste material in containers for recyclable or compostable materials.

An additional 30 tons of material from those Longmont homes could easily be diverted from the landfill “with minor behavioral changes,” the staff wrote in a written report before its council presentation.

“With curbside recycling, voluntary composting and a (pay-as-you-throw) rate structure in place,” the staff wrote, “enhancement of outreach and education is a final key to increasing Longmont’s total waste diversion.”

Contact Staff Writer John Fryar at 303-684-5211 or jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc