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Zero Waste

Zero Waste

Boulder's waste diversion rates for 2014 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 now has universal zero waste requirements that require all businesses and properties in Boulder to compost and recycle.


Boulder is working to become a zero waste community, where we reuse recycle and compost at least 85 percent of what we throw away. We are currently updating our 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?

On June 16, 2016, City Council adopted the Universal Zero Waste Ordinance, which will expand access to recycling and composting services to all residents, visitors and businesses in Boulder.

In 2014, staff collaborated with a Zero Waste Community Working Group made up of local experts and stakeholders to answer key questions and guide development of zero waste policy.


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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