A Guide to Boulder's Waste Regulations

Learn about local ordinances, requirements and taxes that help our city move toward zero waste.

waste bins

The Universal Zero Waste Ordinance (UZWO)

The UZWO is a community-wide effort in pursuit of Boulder’s zero waste future. It requires all residential and commercial properties, businesses and special events in Boulder to have separated collections and compliant signs for compostable materials, recycling and landfill-bound trash.

City Ordinances, Requirements and Taxes

Disposable Bag Fee

A 10-cent fee for single-use plastic and paper checkout bags at all grocery stores in Boulder.

Learn more about the fee.

Sustainable Deconstruction Requirements

The city regulates waste reuse and recycling for construction and deconstruction projects. These regulations apply to residential and commercial projects, as described in the city's 2020 Energy Conservation Code and Ordinance 8366.

Learn more about these requirements.

Trash Tax

The trash tax is an occupation tax on trash haulers serving customers within city limits and helps fund waste reduction efforts in Boulder. Most haulers pass the tax on to customers as part of their trash service bills.

Check out the details.

Bear Protection Ordinance

This ordinance aims to protect bears by eliminating access to food rewards found in trash and compost bins.

  • Anywhere in the city: Bear-resistant containers are required if trash and compost are put out the night before pickup.
  • West of Broadway and south of Sumac Avenue: All compost and trash carts, containers, dumpsters or enclosures must be bear-resistant or stored in a building, house, garage, shed or other enclosure until emptied by a trash hauler.

    • View a downloadable map of the area where bear-resistant containers are mandatory at all times.

Learn more about Boulder’s urban wildlife policies and programs.