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Help our local businesses by putting your dining waste in the right bin.  

The city is working to become a zero waste community, where we dramatically reduce the amount of waste we create by reusing, recycling and composting most of what we throw away.

The Universal Zero Waste Ordinance (UZWO) is one of the city’s community-wide efforts in pursuit of Boulder’s zero waste future. It requires all property owners, commercial and residential, to subscribe to compost, recycling and trash collection services. It also requires businesses to provide separated collections with compliant signage for all three waste streams and to train employees on proper waste sorting.

By reducing and properly sorting waste, our local businesses minimize their environmental impact and serve as role models for our community. But they cannot do it alone.

Become a Waste Sorting Pro

Restaurants and cafés need your help to make sure waste goes in the right bins – especially when each diner is responsible for clearing their own table.

Just getting started? Check out the city’s Zero Waste Sorting Quiz for an interactive and educational game. Already a sorting expert? Test your knowledge with Eco-Cycle's sorting game.

Food scraps, BPI cups, greasy pizza box and other compostable items

Compost These Items:

  • All food scraps, including meat, bones and dairy
  • Greasy pizza boxes without a plastic coating
    • Remove any stickers, plastic pizza tables, stapled receipts and single-use topping packets.
  • Paper straws, napkins and towels, facial tissues, and wax paper if not plastic coated*

*Not sure if your wax paper is compostable? Scrape the surface with a butter knife or fingernail. Compostable wax paper will show a line, while plastic-coated paper will not.

  • BPI certified compostable items

Rule of thumb: do not compost materials and products that have never been alive or are not labeled with a BPI logo.

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BPI Compostable Logo

Look for the BPI Certified Compostable logo.

What is BPI?

The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) is a third-party organization that certifies products as commercially compostable. These products are safe for our soils and break down best in large compost facilities. So, drop them in a curbside compost bin or bring them to a commercial compost drop-off location.

Note: BPI products may not break down properly in your backyard compost pile.

Recycle: aluminum foil wrap and can, plastic tub and takeout container, and plastic soda bottles

Drop in the Recycling: 

  • Aluminum containers and foil
    • Clean and form foil into one large ball 2 inches or more in diameter.
  • Plastic takeout containers, including black plastic
  • Plastic water, soda, juice and other beverage bottles
    • Attached caps and labels are ok
  • Glass beverage bottles
    • Include metal caps separately
    • Labels are ok
  • Plastic tubs and lids
  • Uncrushed aluminum cans

Make sure recyclables are free of food scraps and liquids before tossing them in the recycling bin.

Boulder County plastic recycling guidelines are based on the type of item, rather than the number printed within the recycle symbol.

Trash: takeout boxes, plastic straws, silverware, coffee cups, plastic wrap, polystyrene container and chip bag

These Belong in the Trash:

  • Plastic straws and utensils
  • Anything made of polystyrene, commonly called Styrofoam™
  • Single-use plastic cups and lids
  • Plastic-coated paper plates and takeout boxes
  • Coffee cups without a BPI certified compostable logo
  • Condiment, sweetener and toppings packets
  • Plastic wrappers and film; including chip bags and candy wrappers
  • Plastic bags*

*Can be recycled if brought to specific locations. Keep reading to learn more.

Want to take your climate action one step further?

Recycle plastic bags! Bring plastic bags to Eco-Cycle's Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM) for a small fee or to your local grocery store. Not all grocery stores collect plastic bags, so check with store staff before bringing them in.

Bags must be clean, dry and empty. Acceptable bags will have a #2 or #4 on them. If there is no number, try the stretch test. Tear the bag. If the bag tears in a stretchy, wavy line, it can be recycled. If the bag tears in a straight line, it belongs in the trash.

Ditch single-use waste and join the reuse revolution!

While achieving zero waste is important, it is only one part of the city’s vision. Boulder is working to build a vibrant circular economy that avoids waste altogether.

You can help support Boulder’s economy when you dine with Repeater reusables instead of single-use takeout containers. Learn about the city’s partnership with Repeater.

Are you the owner or manager of a local business?

Check out the city’s UZWO webpage for more on compliance requirements.