My name is Lily Svoboda, and I am an intern for YVSC’s Waste Diversion Priority Area. I am working on the Restaurant Composting Pilot Program under the mentorship of YVSC’s Waste Diversion Director, Winn Cowman. We work with local restaurants to start the process of composting. This program helps divert organic waste from the landfill so that it can be composted and used for positive purposes. 

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, food waste comprises about 18 percent of the waste in the landfill each year. Overall, the amount of organic material (including compostable paper, food soiled cardboard, and other organic materials) that could be composted composes about 37 percent of the total material in the landfill. 

The national municipal waste diversion rate is 35 percent. Colorado is currently diverting only 15 percent of municipal waste and Routt county sits even lower than that at just 13 percent diversion. Colorado has a goal to reach 45 percent recovery by 2036. In order to achieve these waste diversion goals, we need to continue to make efforts to divert our waste from the landfill through recycling and composting. 

With funding provided by the Sierra Club, YVSC has been working with local restaurants to start the process of composting. Two of the restaurants we have been working with are Cruisers and the Drunken Onion in Wildhorse Marketplace. Kris Shea, the owner of Cruisers Sub Shop, and Ben Stroock, the owner of the Drunken Onion, have demonstrated initiative and love for their community in their dedication to composting. Kris Shea has demonstrated a passion for composting and the positive impacts that it has for our environment and community. His enthusiasm and determination to compost in Cruisers has been a gleaming example of sustainability in our community. When I asked Kris Shea about his experience with the composting program he stated, “We’re thrilled to be a part of this project! YVSC has made the experience stress free and efficient. We would strongly recommend this program to other local businesses wanting to improve their waste processes and environmental impact.” Cruisers and the Drunken Onion have had great success with starting the composting process and are community oriented businesses that I have enjoyed working with.

Since we started working with restaurants in February, we have diverted over 2,000 pounds of organic waste from the landfill. We are currently looking to work with more local restaurants to start composting. If you are a local restaurant owner or manager, joining YVSC’s Composting Pilot Program is a great way to try composting in your restaurant. 

You will be able to collaborate with a local nonprofit that is passionate about sustainability and will support you through the entire process. Restaurants will have the choice to compost their organic waste with either Cowgirl Compost or TwinEnviro, our local composting outlets. We want this program to be an opportunity for restaurants to be able to start composting as easily as possible so we are making sure that the first few months of composting are free of cost to these restaurants as they learn the process. The funding provided by the Sierra Club ensures that restaurants are able to focus on learning to sort organic waste and not on the cost.

When it’s time for the restaurants to start paying for their composting pick ups, the cost will depend on how much organic waste that is being produced. By diverting organic waste away from the trash that goes to the landfill, we expect that these restaurants will save money in the long run.

Starting the composting process is a great way to promote sustainability in your restaurant and will attract the growing number of people who value businesses that are lowering their environmental impact. If you are interested in joining the Composting Pilot Program  with YVSC, please contact me, Lily Svoboda, at, I would love to talk with you about composting!