May 10, 2023

Letter: New guidelines help ensure composting efforts don’t go to waste

McKenna R. Deeble, YVSC Intern

This past March, the Boulder County Composting authority changed its composting guidelines. Effective April 1, it is recommended that commercial composters only accept food and yard waste, and refuse all paper and plastic products, including those labeled ‘compostable.’ Commercial composters in Steamboat Springs are likely to also adopt this policy.

This change is annoying for veteran composters, such as myself. I mean, there’s nothing that feels better in this warming world than getting rid of waste the “right” way. Looking at the bigger picture, though, this shift in composting guidelines is a good thing, since it simplifies the composting process for newbies, and results in a better, cleaner product.

The reason for Boulder County’s change in compost guidelines is because polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) were found to be used in paper and plastic products, and remained present in the compost product. PFAS is used as a coating on disposable products that make them resistant to water and heat. When ingested directly and in large amounts, PFAS can cause certain types of cancer and affect your hormones, liver and thyroid functions.