Denver Zoo “Ditches Plans to Convert Elephant Dung”

The Denver Post’s article (9/25/2015) on the Zoo’s plan to halt construction on its gasification-pyrolysis system – sited in an urban neighborhood – wrongly characterizes elephant dung as the only constituent of the (toxic) waste stream. The Post reports the Zoological Foundation is keeping construction on the “back burner” while it searches for additional funding:

Denver Zoo officials announced Friday they were scrapping a plan to convert elephant dung and other waste to power, blaming a lack of money for the decision.

At a press conference at the zoo, Shannon Block, the zoo’s chief executive officer, said they would be looking for a financial partner to “pick up the ball.”

Denver Zoo officials said their decision to shut down the project was a question of resources — not the vocal opposition the plan has drawn from a collection of passionate neighborhood activists.

George Pond, the senior vice president of design and campus management, said the employees working to get the equipment installed and tested, and then to run the waste-to-energy program once it was operational, were needed for other areas as the zoo embarks on an ambitious master plan that will remake the campus significantly in coming years.

Block called the surprise move a difficult decision that came down to a question about priorities for core zoo operations, while saying the project had gotten “to the 10-yard line.”

But the project may not be abandoned entirely. Pond says he has talked to potential partners, and it’s possible the machinery that’s already installed could be up and running at some point, reviving the project — but it would be off site.

“It will not operate here,” zoo spokeswoman Tiffany Barnhart said. She said officials hoped to see the zoo’s $3.7 million investment in the equipment and innovation of the technology put to use in some way.

This development does not mark the end of Zerowaste Denver. We will continue to post news on the Zoo’s machine and zerowaste principles, as well as any documents obtained under the Colorado Open Records Act.