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

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.


Only compost food scraps.

All food scraps

  • Including meat, bones, dairy, coffee grounds and eggshells.

Some food businesses do not have compost bins in customer spaces. If there isn't a compost bin, put food scraps in the trash.

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

Drop in the Recycling: 

  • Aluminum containers, foil and cans.
    • Clean and form foil into one large ball 2 inches or more in diameter.
  • Plastic takeout containers.
  • Plastic water, soda, juice and other beverage bottles.
    • Attach caps.
  • Glass beverage bottles.
    • Remove and recycle caps separately.
  • Plastic tubs and lids.

Make sure recyclables are empty and clean.

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:

  • Compostable products, including cups, utensils and plates.
  • Paper napkins and towels.
  • Tea bags and coffee filters.
  • 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*

*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.

Are you the owner or manager of a local business?

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