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City Launches “Green Bag Giveaway” Program to Provide Six Months of Free Compostable Bags to Boulder Businesses

Compostable green bags are a key component of the process because they help reduce plastic contamination

The City of Boulder is offering a free six-month supply of compostable bags through its Green Bag Giveaway program. To qualify, businesses of all types must fill out an online application that shows they are composting and recycling.

The Universal Zero Waste Ordinance requires all Boulder businesses to compost. Compostable green bags are a key component of the process because they help reduce plastic contamination in the compost waste stream. The Green Bag Giveaway is funded through revenue from the Disposable Bag Fee and is designed to help businesses on the road to Zero Waste by offsetting some of the costs associated with complying with the ordinance. Applications to the program will be approved on a first-come, first-served basis while funding is available.

“We appreciate that the City of Boulder is making it even easier to compost. The free compostable bag program is just one example of how the city is doing a great job supporting the restaurant community’s push toward zero waste,” said Paul Nashak, managing partner of Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries.

The city selected vendor Organix Solutions to administer the program through a competitive bid process. Once approved, any business in Boulder will be able to order green bags directly from Organix Solutions in sizes and quantities that are appropriate to their business. The city is piloting this program throughout 2018, while funding lasts. City staff will evaluate the program’s success to potentially continue it beyond a six-month supply, as well as in future years.

City of Boulder Environmental Manager Kara Mertz said, “It’s important to keep plastics out of our compost stream so we’re creating clean, usable soil. This also ensures these programs, which reduce methane and our climate impacts, can continue. By providing high-quality, certified compostable green bags, it helps ensure plastic trash bags are not ending up in the material headed to the composting site.”

Program funding comes from the Disposable Bag Fee, the 10-cent fee for disposable plastic and paper checkout bags at all grocery stores in Boulder aimed at reducing disposable bag use. Following the implementation of the fee in 2012, there was a 70 percent decrease in disposable bag use. Despite this decrease, there is still over $200,000 that comes into the city from disposable bag fee revenue every year. Plastic bags are contaminants in both the compost and recycling waste streams. The Green Bag Giveaway program will benefit businesses that are composting and help keep plastic contamination out of the compost. In addition to funding this program, the bag fee currently provides reusable bags to low income residents at local food banks and will fund an upgrade at the Boulder County Recycling Center for new equipment to remove plastic bags from the recycling stream.

About Zero Waste in Boulder

Boulder is working to become a zero-waste community by 2025, where the community reduces the waste that is generated and then reuses, recycles and composts 85 percent of what is thrown away. In June 2015, Boulder City Council adopted the Universal Zero Waste Ordinance to help meet this goal. The ordinance requires all property owners to subscribe to trash, recycling and composting collection services, and to assure their commercial and residential tenants have access to these services. All businesses must also separate their recyclables and compostables from their trash, and have appropriate bins and signs so employees and customers can easily use these services.

For more information about Boulder’s zero waste goals and Universal Zero Waste Requirements, visit

For more information on the Green Bag Giveaway, visit

Published: March 8, 2018

Media Contacts:
Alexis Bullen, Sustainability Communications, 303-441-1878
Noah Eisenman, Climate + Sustainability, 303-441-1940

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