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At the Tuesday, February 15 Chaffee County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, commissioners approved their support for Salida-based Elements Mountain Compost’s grant application to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity (CDPHE RREO) grant program. Element’s proposal to CDPHE RREO will seek funding for its operational expansion plans and initiate a transition to a “Class 3” composting facility to process a much larger volume of organic waste each year.

Residential Drop Off for composting. Image courtesy of Elements Mountain Composting.

The BOCC voted to provide a letter of support and $10,000 in matching funds, which will help support equipment needs to expand composting operations and help increase the diversion of more organic waste from the Chaffee County landfill. The county’s funding match was a passthrough of the philanthropic contributions the county received as a condition of the BlueTriton Brands 1041 permit that was extended in 2021.

Elements Mountain Compost serves businesses and residents throughout the county by collecting food scraps, yard waste, and other organic materials. These products are mixed with woodchips, leaves, and sawdust, composted for four to six months to create a stable soil amendment product. The finished compost helps improve soil health in gardens, landscaping, agriculture, and industrial applications.

In 2021 Elements diverted:

  • 235 cubic yards of food waste
  • 80 cubic yards of yard waste from the local Landfill

An estimated an additional 5,000 tons of organics could be prevented from entering the local waste stream each year.

Up to 30 percent of household waste is compostable and the 200+ foodservice businesses in the county produce hundreds of tons of compostable material annually. Composting food scraps and other organics, rather than landfilling them, not only helps extend the life of the landfill but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, the finished compost product is sold and applied locally to improve soil health, sequester carbon in the soil and close the loop on local food systems.

Element’s efforts to increase organic waste diversion are aligned with the Chaffee County Waste Diversion Plan that has been developed by county staff with support from the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA) and many other stakeholders. The plan specifically recognizes a Class 3 composting facility as one of the highest priority projects to divert organic material from the landfill.

“We are excited to scale up our composting services and capacity in service of Chaffee County’s waste diversion priorities,” said Element’s Owner and Operator Julie Mach, “and were grateful for the county’s support of the Class 3 Facility plans that will help us keep more organics out of the landfill and turned into beneficial compost for local use.”

Businesses and residents can get involved with the local composting initiative by visiting Elements offers a weekly collection service for restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, and high-density housing complexes. Residents can also sign up to drop off their compost at community collection locations in Salida, Poncha Springs, and Buena Vista.

For additional information, contact Julie Mach at 719-966-7645 or email