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Circular Economy Report Lays Out New Opportunities for Climate Action

To meet Boulder’s ambitious zero waste goals, urgent action is required in the coming years.

As part of the city’s Climate Mobilization Action Plan, or CMAP, the city worked with sustainability consultant Metabolic, LLC. to develop a holistic picture of materials being consumed, transformed and wasted in Boulder. This study has helped the city more deeply understand the current material flows, identify opportunities for creating less waste, and find more ways to close the recycling loop locally. The report and the vision it lays out also draws on feedback from stakeholder and community input.

“This report is one of the first steps in broadening the city’s focus from how we manage waste to how we manage materials. Boulder is a leader in waste reduction, however, in order to really address the climate crisis, the city needs to lead the way in implementing deep, systemic change through coordinated action to foster a circular economy,” said Kara Mertz, sustainability manager.

One main takeaway of the report is that while waste is a small part of our greenhouse gas inventory as currently measured, when looking at all the materials and product consumption rather than just waste, emissions from that consumption are larger than all local sources of emissions put together. That means that even a small change in the amount of “stuff” we use can have an enormous effect on overall carbon emissions.  Furthermore, the report found that the largest contributors to these so-called “embodied” emissions are electronics, clothing and textiles; and that packaging materials make up 28% of the city’s waste. The consultants made special note that the city will need to find new ways to measure its progress in creating a more circular Boulder.

As part of CMAP, the city will continue to engage the community throughout 2020 to prioritize actions and mobilize climate action. It will also continue to ensure that the process is community-focused, with equity and resilience at the forefront.

For more information and to see upcoming CMAP events, visit Boulder.Earth/cmap. To get involved in the conversation, visit

About CMAP

The City of Boulder has entered a new phase of climate action called the Climate Mobilization Action Plan (CMAP) in response to the climate crisis. This new phase of action will be community-centered and different from the city’s past efforts, placing particular focus on diverse communities. Working together, the city and the community will re-evaluate targets, identify new, impactful strategies and take innovative approaches to support climate justice. Learn more at

Published: Feb. 24, 2020


Media Contacts: 


Alexis Bullen, Communications: 303-441-1878 

Kara Mertz, Climate Initiatives: 303-441-3153