Denver firefighters want to show local community the benefits of composting

Denver firefighters are taking on a new role in the community by serving as “zero heroes” to work toward achieving “zero waste” in the city through composting.

Denver Public Works and the Denver Fire Department are expanding its partnership to promote the benefits of the Denver Composts program.

“We’ve all become really good recyclers. We know our cans and our bottles are recyclable, but we don’t really think about our food waste or yard debris because it can be yucky sometimes, but it really isn’t, it’s hugely valuable,” said Charlotte Pitt, a manager at Denver Recycles.

Twenty fire stations are now composting through the program, and several have seen their recycling rates increase from as much as eight to 80 percent since they’ve started.

According to Pitt, Denver is lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to composting. Denver Recycles found that about 50 percent of what city residents throw away is compostable food waste and yard debris.

Firefighters at Station No. 16 compost things like coffee grounds, old sandwiches in the fridge, and weeds from outside.

“We just need to take that next step, otherwise we ultimately will have nowhere to put this waste,” Pitt said. “And as we’re growing so fast, it’s important to think about how we manage waste in our homes.”

All of the material collected in the compost program stays in Colorado, Pitt said. It’s taken to a local facility where it’s composted over a period of time and then used as a soil amendment in the state for yards, gardens, and agriculture.

According to Denver Public Works, starting this month residents who are not enrolled in the Denver Composts program will receive a mailer about how to subscribe for service.

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