Larimer County Solid Waste Infrastructure Master Plan & Design

Larimer County Solid Waste Plan Signage

Larimer County Solid Waste Infrastructure Master Plan & Design

Larimer County Solid Waste Plan Aims for Waste Diversion

Over the last 20 years the population in Larimer County, Colorado, has grown more than 50 percent — and landfill disposal has grown along with it. The county now accepts more than 350,000 tons of solid waste each year, and it expects to accept more than 500,000 tons per year by 2025 when the existing landfill is projected to close. Larimer County brought HDR on board to identify a forward-thinking solid waste plan for handling waste economically and sustainably. They’ve kept us by their side as the plan has moved into implementation, with the permitting and design of a new landfill and transfer station facility.  

At the start we evaluated dozens of disposal options and narrowed it down to 11 with 88 representatives from regional governments/agencies, boards and commissions, educational institutions, solid waste experts, business/industry and various associations. The County Board of Commissioners approved five of the recommended options aimed at diverting 40% of trash from the landfill while creating a plan for public education, outreach and solid waste reduction: 

  • New, modern “last landfill ever” 
  • Central transfer station
  • Construction and demolition processing facility
  • Yard composting facility
  • Food waste composting facility

Solid Waste Plan Based on SROI and Community Engagement

For the first time on a U.S.-based solid waste infrastructure project, we used a unique sustainable return on investment tool. The tool looked at the social, economic, environmental and health impacts of each option, which resulted in a cost-to-benefit ratio ranging from $1.11 to nearly $4 in benefits for every $1 invested.

Guided by goals of collaboration and community benefit, an engaging communications strategy empowered and involved stakeholders throughout the planning process. This approach during plan development offered a holistic, inclusive nature while swiftly addressing potential risks and benefits. Proactive outreach was essential to inform the public on plan components, associated benefits and upcoming changes. The strategy resulted in a comprehensive plan that reflects a partnership and commitment to keeping the community at the heart of the project.

The solid waste plan also provided an opportunity to:

  • Evaluate and refine existing programs, activities and infrastructure
  • Identify policies that will help implement the recommended programs and practices
  • Provide roadmap for the county’s solid waste management system
  • Support stakeholder goals and objectives

Implementing the Plan for Solid Waste Diversion

The county is working to implement the next phase of its solid waste management system — a new landfill, and central transfer station and scale house. Once closed, the existing landfill facility will find new purpose as a resource recovery park — a one-stop shop for construction and yard waste, food scraps and recycling and the transfer of non-recyclable waste. 

We worked alongside the county to complete the transfer station and scale house conceptual design, and have progressed to detailed design while the new landfill property is being evaluated for site suitability, and local and state permitting. The transfer station and scale house are designed for success with input from county staff gained during an interactive programming workshop. Each of these infrastructure options is anticipated to be operational by 2021.

Larimer County’s award-winning plan is taking shape and setting it apart as a model for solid waste in Colorado and across the United States. 

Larimer County Solid Waste Plan Signage
Larimer County, Colorado

Larimer County, CO
United States



Outstanding Community or Government Program Award (2019)
National Recycling Coalition