Compost Guideline Changes
Communities along the Front Range are working with the only large compost facility in Colorado, A1 Organics, to create high-quality compost. Compost supports our gardens, local farms, and our environment by building healthy soils that absorb carbon dioxide, reducing water and chemical use, and growing nutritious foods.
New Changes to Lafayette's Compost Program
It’s simple! Food Scraps and Yard and Plant Trimmings ONLY
Due to the widespread contamination (materials that are placed in the wrong cart) in residential compost carts, A1 Organics has announced changes that will go into effect on April 1, 2023.
It is extremely difficult for A1-Organics to separate contamination (examples include clothing, diapers, pet waste, glass, and plastics) at their facility due to the number of unacceptable materials entering their facility and the difficulty of manually sorting these unwanted items out of the finished product. A strict reduction of acceptable items will be in place until further notice to all Front Range communities utilizing A1 Organics.
Lafayette’s goal is to provide A1 Organics with contamination-free material, and we need your help!
Only two categories are allowed in your curbside compost cart as of April 1, 2023:
- Food Scraps:(produce, bread, bones, meat, cheese, eggshells, coffee grounds, etc.).
- Please remove all produce stickers, rubber bands, twist-ties, and anything that is not considered food (tea bags and coffee filters are not acceptable).
- Yard and Plant Trimmings: leaves, twigs, flowers, grass, branches, etc.
- Please keep rocks out of your cart.
Residents that utilize 3-gallon compostable bags to collect food scraps may continue to do so, but only 3-gallon (or smaller), approved compostable bags are allowed. If you do not use 3-gallon compostable bags, all items must be placed unbagged and loose in your compost cart. View A1 Organic's list of acceptable compostable bags.
- Paper products (e.g., paper towels, cardboard, napkins, shredded paper, pizza boxes, coffee filters, etc.)
- Compostable products (including certified compostable utensils, straws, plates, etc.)
- Bags (kraft or larger than 3-gallon compostable bags).
- Glass, metal, or plastic
NOTE: Products labeled “compostable” are NOT recyclable. If you have these items, please place them in your curbside garbage cart.
A1-Organics hosted a community meeting together with the City of Lafayette and the City of Louisville about compost cart guidelines and how you can best help fight contamination.
The City of Lafayette acknowledges that these new guidelines will be a change for residents. We want to support your participation in the City’s Three Cart Program and make it as easy as possible to continue composting.
Below is a list of resources that residents may take advantage of:
- To learn more and review additional resources, visit Eco-Cycle
- Countertop kitchen compost container (limit one per household)
- Roll of approved 3-gallon compostable bags (limit one per household).
- New cart sticker to place on your compost cart lid (available starting April 3, 2023, in English and Spanish)
- New educational videos will be available in April
- Review Lafayette's 'What Goes Where' Guide to stay up to date
- Subscribe to Environmental Sustainability News
Starting April 3, 2023, you can pick up your countertop kitchen compost container, a roll of 3-gallon compostable bags, and a cart sticker at the Lafayette City Hall front desk or Sustainability Community Events throughout the year while supplies last.
Lafayette City Hall Public Access Hours:
- Monday - Thursday: 9am - 4pm
- Friday - Sunday: The City Hall building is closed to public access.
- Staff is available via phone/email during all regular business hours; Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm.
Frequently Asked Questions
Front Range communities have ONE regional composting processor, A1 Organics. A1 has notified ALL communities within the state that they are receiving high levels of contamination. As a result, A1 cannot sell its finished compost product made from curbside residential compost programs. They are calling for a system reset and beginning April 1, 2023, will ONLY be accepting food scraps and yard and plant trimmings from compost programs.
The City of Lafayette supports the need to reduce contamination in our residential curbside composting program. Simplifying the program by only allowing food scraps and yard and plant trimmings, will help reduce contamination being brought to A1.
A1 Organics is enforcing these new guidelines with all communities across the Front Range, regardless of the waste hauler, due to the increased contamination they have received. Simplifying the acceptable materials in compost programs will support A1 Organics' goal of creating a high-quality and usable finished product.
No. A1 Organics operates the only compost processing facility in the Front Range. All residents and businesses in the surrounding communities will be impacted by this change.
That is yet to be determined.
A1 is not contracted or otherwise obligated to take the materials we have been generating. As a community partner, A1 wants to work with communities along the Front Range to continue to accept the material. Still, they need our help to ensure that it is contamination-free. Currently, there are no other compost processors in the Front Range region.
While we cannot predict their future standards, we know that the goal of producing quality compost, and the health of the planet, is best served by focusing on diverting food and yard and plant trimmings, while reducing the use of disposable single-use products.
Compostable service ware (cutlery, tableware, cups, and straws) and other paper products were not as commonly used until recently. As their popularity has grown, they have caused a rush of “look-alikes” and misrepresented products in stores and online. These “look-alikes” make the task of identifying what is legitimately compostable impossible, even for experts, creating unmanageable amounts of contamination. Furthermore, many available paper products, like coffee cups and many “to go'' containers, are coated in plastic, which is not acceptable in your green curbside cart.
To simplify our compost program and ensure there is NO contamination, A1 Organics does not want any packaging, service ware, or paper of ANY kind.
Note: Paper that has no plastic coating, like paper towels, facial tissues (that aren't synthetic), coffee filters, etc. can be placed in your backyard compost pile. Make a valuable soil amendment right in your own backyard! Learn more about backyard composting.
When Lafayette's compost trucks arrive at A1, the material inside the truck has been compacted from over 1000 households. Imagine pulling plastic stickers off of rotten banana peels, or pulling plastic bags off of decaying material. Even with hand sorting and running the material through machinery, small pieces of plastic, glass, or aluminum will remain in the finished compost product. Farmers and other compost buyers want and need clean, nutrient-dense food scraps and yard trimmings to grow our food.
A1 Organics is one of many compost processors making these changes across the country. Programs in other early-adopter composting communities, such as Portland, Seattle, Vermont, and California, are also simplifying compost guidelines to include food scraps and yard and plant trimmings.
Republic Services will place a notice on your contaminated cart and will only provide collection service once the unacceptable materials are removed. You may request that your compost cart be collected as garbage at your expense. Please call Republic Services at 303-286-2400.
Also, beginning April 1, 2023, any compost trucks from Lafayette containing anything other than food scraps and yard and plant trimmings will be rejected by A1 Organics and sent to the landfill. This may have financial implications if there are egregious occurrences. Please put ONLY food scraps and yard and plant trimmings in your curbside compost cart.
- What if I know I have certified compostable products? Can I still place them in my curbside compost cart?
No. Beginning April 1, 2023, A1 has notified all Front Range communities that paper, compostable products (plates, forks, straws, etc.), and other contamination (pet waste, plastic, metal, etc.) will result in a rejection of the compost and the truck will instead be sent to our landfill. Please do NOT include any paper or other compostable products, even if they are labeled as certified compostable.
Compostable bags often contain and conceal contamination (pet waste, plastic, metal, etc.). As A1 breaks open these larger compostable bags, they often find contamination. To reduce and avoid contamination, A1 requires food scraps and yard and plant trimmings to be placed directly in curbside compost carts unbagged.
The only exception is 3-gallon approved compostable bags.
Three-gallon approved compostable bags are allowed in your curbside compost cart.
Save money and go bag free! For your countertop kitchen compost container, go bag free and simply rinse out your container from time to time. Once your kitchen container is full, dump your food scraps into your curbside cart unbagged.
If your compost cart starts to smell, give it a quick rinse from the hose (no soap), swish it around in the cart, and pour the water directly onto your lawn or trees. If you have grass clippings or fallen leaves, you can line your curbside compost bin with a thin layer of grass or leaves to help absorb moisture.
Three Cart Program customers receive one free compost cart exchange annually. Please call Republic Services at 303-286-2400 to schedule your free annual compost cart exchange.
During spring and fall curbside collection events sponsored by Republic Services, you may use brown kraft lawn bags to collect your yard and plant trimmings. This is the only time brown kraft bags are allowed in Lafayette’s curbside compost program.
That's great! Curbside composting will take everything you can't or might not want to compost in your backyard, including weeds (so seeds don't go back into your yard), meat, dairy, and bones.
Absolutely! Two of the most impactful ways to reduce your daily waste are to:
1. Know before you throw. Become a sorting pro. Check Lafayette’s local recycling guide to remain up to date on what materials can be placed in which cart.
2. Use reusables whenever possible. Bring your reusable mug to a coffee shop, stash a set of silverware in your bag or car for easy access on the go, and bring your reusable to-go containers for leftovers.
The materials you place in your compost cart are essential for building healthy soils and serve as a critical climate solution. Creating policies and infrastructure that support the success of curbside compost programs is a key priority in Lafayette, surrounding communities, and the state of Colorado.