Did you miss the discussion? Check out this recap!
The city is hosting three virtual information sessions this summer, each with the goal of deepening the community’s familiarity with city climate work and inspiring collective action. The second session focused on growing a circular economy in Boulder and beyond.
Listen to highlights from the conversation:
1. A circular economy is good for people, the environment and business.
In our current linear economy, we take materials from the earth, make products from them and eventually, throw them away. In a circular economy, by contrast, we stop waste being produced in the first place.
This shift creates a resilient system and that's good for businesses, people and the environment, explained Interim Director of Climate Initiatives, Jonathan Koehn. “A circular economy is really decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources.”
2. The New Three Rs: Reuse, Repurpose and Repair
“As important as achieving high diversion rates is, the truth is we just can't recycle and compost our way out of the climate crisis,” said city Policy Advisor, Jamie Harkins. Moving beyond recycling, the city is exploring policies and programs that emphasize a new set of three Rs: reuse, repurpose and repair.
“We want to enable more repair, reuse and re-manufacturing within Boulder. It should be easier to fix broken things around your house,” said Harkins.
3. Circularity is a climate solution.
Working with European consulting firm, Metabolic, the city conducted a deep analysis of our community’s waste stream. The picture was stunning.
“If you look at the emissions associated with the production of the goods and services we consume in Boulder, they are actually estimated to be larger than every single other local source of emissions combined,” explained Harkins.
“Little steps towards circularity can really make a big impact in the overall climate picture.”
4. Boulder is uniquely positioned to build a circular economy.
“We do this work with a wide range of partners,” said Harkins. “They are so essential for making it possible to live a zero-waste lifestyle right now.”
Boulder is home to several organizations, businesses, experts and passionate advocates who are helping build a local circular economy. Local non-profits, including Resource Central, Eco-Cycle and Community Cycles, are creating end markets for materials that can still be used. Volunteers run fix-it clinics to help squeeze more life out of household appliances.
Businesses are also stepping up.
Anna Perks, who runs a sustainable deconstruction company says she gets “energized by salvaging things like flooring, cabinets, doors appliances and lumber and then seeing someone else use those materials.”
For Verity Noble, her zero-waste grocery store’s mission is aligned with circularity. “The average American produces more than 1,700 pounds of trash every year, so we started Nude Foods to try and combat some of this trash because so much of it comes from our grocery shopping.”
5. Change must happen at a larger scale.
While there is a robust movement towards circularity happening in Boulder, change beyond our community will have the biggest impact. To this end, the city plays a key role in shaping statewide policy.
State Representative Lisa Cutter, a champion of zero-waste policies, echoed Harkins’ point, saying, “our work in the circular economy will be most effective if we work from the state level. We can have consistent systems throughout the state -- not just a patchwork approach.”
Catch the Replay
Explore Circularity in Boulder
Circularity is a new area of work for Boulder and many other communities. Learn more about this growing effort in Boulder by exploring the city’s Circular Boulder guide.
Tune Into More Climate Conversations
- Renewable and Resilient Energy Systems – June 29
- Learn how the city is working to electrify Boulder's buildings and vehicles, grow local renewable energy generation, and improve energy access and affordability. Read the recap and watch the recording.
- Natural Climate Solutions – Aug. 22, 5:30 to 7 p.m.