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Zero Waste Strategic Plan Update

Zero Waste Strategic Plan Update


In 2006, City Council accepted the original Master Plan for Waste Reduction and a Zero Waste Resolution. The plan outlines educational, technical and financial assistance programs, infrastructure and regulation, and includes a road map to approach 85 percent waste diversion. Historically, city trash tax funding has focused on providing waste reduction programs and services to the residential sector. New strategies identified through the Zero Waste Strategic Plan (ZWSP) update process will focus on increasing multifamily and commercial waste reduction.

One major development since the acceptance of the original master plan was the purchase of the property at 6400 Arapahoe Ave., approved by council in August 2009. Funded by bonds backed by the trash tax, the site has been developed and will serve as a home for the City of Boulder/Eco-Cycle Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM), Eco-Cycle offices, and ReSource for building material reuse. The property also includes approximately two non-programmed acres that could host additional waste diversion facilities. ReSource already occupies the site, and Eco-Cycle is planning to relocate to the property in December 2013.

The update to the ZWSP will include a framework for evaluating future trash tax investments, as well as any other revenues that may be available to fund future components of the city’s zero waste strategy. Possible future initiatives include Phase II development at 6400 Arapahoe Ave., enhancing compost opportunities for organic waste, and an integrated strategy to foster continual improvement in commercial recycling. The updated ZWSP will also incorporate analyses of greenhouse gas impacts and other environmental impacts of zero waste initiatives, and will include recommendations for increasing reuse and reducing waste generation at its source.

The public engagement process to update the ZWSP will continue into the first half of 2014. At a February 2011 study session, City Council identified community priorities for the updated plan. A second study session was held in October 2011, where council provided feedback about possible new initiatives, infrastructure investments, and potential regulations, including a ban on polystyrene food take-out containers and a disposable bag reduction ordinance (adopted Nov. 1, 2012).

Status and Potential Next Steps

In 2013, a program evaluation study was initiated to assess the existing trash tax expenditures and make recommendations for future zero waste investments, assessing cost-effectiveness and environmental benefits. The final results of this study are expected in the fourth quarter of 2013. The findings and recommendations will be presented to City Council at a study session in the first half of 2014 and will form the basis of the plan update.

In 2014, City Council will consider an update to the ZWSP that will include a framework for Boulder’s zero waste strategy, which integrates a balance of education, technical and financial assistance, infrastructure investments, and potential regulations. As part of this, specific initiatives will be identified and council can weigh in on the desired balance and investment philosophy to help prioritize future initiatives and support zero waste.

Council Action

  • Second Quarter 2014 – City Council study session to discuss the ZWSP update.
  • Fourth Quarter 2014 – City Council consideration of a draft ZWSP.
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