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Zero Waste

Zero Waste

Boulder's waste diversion rates for 2013 show how much of our waste stream is reused, recycled and composted, rather than being sent to a landfill.

Envisioning a Zero Waste Boulder

Boulder is working to become a zero waste community, where we reuse, recycle and compost at least 85 percent of what we throw away. This website will connect you with the resources you need to further your zero waste efforts and help our community reach its goal.


Boulder is updating its Zero Waste Strategic Plan pdf, which outlines the community’s zero waste goals and provides a framework for guiding investments in new programs, services and facilities that are needed to reach them. Weigh in on proposed zero waste requirements for businesses and apartment buildings at Inspire Boulder.


Learn more about zero waste programs and incentives for your business, and about the development of regulatory options to increase recycling and composting at businesses. Contact Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE)  to access expert business sustainability advising at no cost to your business.

What's Happening Now?

The city is currently developing regulatory options to increase recycling and composting at businesses and properties in Boulder. These options will be presented to City Council in the form of a draft Universal Zero Waste Ordinance on June 2, 2015. 

In 2014, staff collaborated with a Zero Waste Community Working Group made up of local experts and stakeholders to answer the following key questions:

  • What new waste services would be most valuable to Boulder businesses and building owners?
  • How can zero waste requirements best be structured to complement and support current business practices?
  • What types of training and resources will support businesses in complying with, and benefitting from, these future requirements


In 2006, City Council accepted the original Master Plan for Waste Reduction and a Zero Waste Resolution pdf. The plan outlines educational, technical and financial assistance programs, infrastructure and regulation, and includes a road map to reach the goal of 85 percent waste diversion. These efforts are funded by a 1993 voter approved ballot initiative that charges a "trash tax" on residential and commercial waste, which generates approximately $1.8 million per year.

In 2013, a program evaluation study pdf was initiated to assess the existing trash tax expenditures and make recommendations for future zero waste investments, assessing cost-effectiveness and environmental benefits. The findings and recommendations were presented to City Council at a study session on July 29, 2014 and will form the basis of the Zero Waste Strategic Plan update, which once completed, will serve as a road map for how our community will work toward zero waste in the coming years. The July study session discussed specific strategies and council weighed in on the desired balance between different types of strategies and the investment philosophy to help prioritize future initiatives

Have materials to reuse, recycle, or compost?

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