Revamped program offers Boulder businesses a year’s worth of free compostable trash bags via subscription service

Pearl Street is in bloom, the masks are coming off and the forecast for summer 2021 in Boulder is looking bright.

As local restaurants and shops open their doors once again, the City of Boulder wants to help businesses to minimize the cost and effort associated with collecting compostable materials.

Composting ordinances, such as ours in Boulder, are intended to help cities minimize waste and reduce their methane emissions, and in turn, lessen their climate impacts.

The additional cost of the special bags used to collect commercial, compostable waste, however, can quickly add up for businesses.

Through the new and improved, subscription-based Green Bag Giveaway program, the city is offering local businesses free, compostable trash bags for a year.

The city hopes to support local businesses by curbing some of the costs and hassle associated with commercial composting, while simultaneously helping Boulder achieve its ambitious zero waste goals.

Supporting local sustainability efforts

Funded through the 10-cent Disposable Bag Fee levied on disposable plastic and paper checkout bags at all grocery stores in Boulder, the Green Bag Giveaway program both supports local businesses who are composting and helps to minimize plastic contamination in the finished compost product.

In 2006, the city developed a set of zero waste targets as part of its commitment to meaningful climate action. One such target stipulates that by 2025, the average Boulder business will recycle and compost 85% of its waste.

To ensure the city is on track to meet these targets, in 2015, the city enacted a Universal Zero Waste Ordinance. The ordinance expands recycling and composting services to all Boulder residents, employees and visitors.

Compliance with the ordinance requires all city businesses to separate recycling and compostable materials from trash by providing properly placed containers and signage to facilitate collection.

Recognizing the additional expense that compostable bags can pose for local businesses, the city launched the Green Bag Giveaway program to help defray the associated costs.

“Through this subscription-based program, we are removing some of the cost barriers and automating elements of the composting process for our Boulder businesses,” said City of Boulder Sustainability Coordinator Sandy Briggs.

Subscription-based success

The program’s new subscription model was designed to render composting as effortless and cost-effective as possible for local businesses.

To qualify for the program, Boulder businesses of all shapes and sizes simply complete the Zero Waste Reporting Form to demonstrate that they are following the city’s composting and recycling requirements.

Additional resources and instructions can be found on the Zero Waste Resources page.

Once the reporting form has been approved, businesses will receive an email explaining how to sign up for an initial 12-month subscription through the city’s compostable bag vendor, Office Sensei.

Participating businesses may choose up to two cases of bin liners to be delivered to their doorsteps each month, free of charge.

“Composting plays such an important role in the achievement of our city’s zero waste goals,” said Briggs.

“We want to show our support to the local businesses who are committed to helping us reach these crucial benchmarks.”

Learn more about the Green Bag Giveaway and Boulder’s commitment to achieving zero waste.