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We Are Zero Waste Boulder

boulder’s zero waste future

Boulder is working to become a zero waste community, where we reuse, recycle and compost most of what we throw away.

Our goal is to generate new materials from 85 percent of our waste by 2025 rather than send that waste to the landfill. Fortunately, we have nearly all of the facilities we need to recycle and compost more.

Check Out Our Strategic Plan

our mission

Recycle, compost or landfill. Everywhere you go.

See the universal zero waste ordinance

Why Zero Waste?

Landfills are imperfect places to send our waste.

Because they’re designed to prevent water, oxygen and sunlight from entering, very little of what’s buried there breaks down—even materials marked “biodegradable” or “compostable.“

Our community gets very little value out of burying trash in the ground.

In fact, we pay to do it. It’s like a one-way street, where we purchase, consume and dispose of materials, never to see them again.

Zero waste is precisely the opposite.

A true zero waste system is cyclical, like nature: Everything we produce, consume and dispose of eventually goes back to feed the larger system at the end of its useful life. It’s a loop rather than a one-way street.

By choosing to reuse, recycle and compost rather than send waste to the landfill, we add value to our “waste” and invest in the future of our community and our local economy.

get recycling & composting tips

The Snapshot

How close is Boulder to zero waste?

Boulder is a sustainability leader in many ways, and we were one of the first cities to introduce curbside recycling; yet we still send two-thirds of our waste to the landfill. Cities like Portland and San Francisco are doing much better.

And we can, too.

How does Boulder compare to other cities?

Percentage of waste that is composted or recycled:

Where does Boulder’s waste go?

66% Landfill, 20% Recycling, and 14% Compost

How much waste does Boulder recycle and compost?


57% recycling &
43% landfill


28% recycling &
72% landfill

apartments &

20% recycling &
80% landfill

What’s the Plan?

How does Boulder achieve zero waste?

More than 100,000 residents and 10,000 businesses call Boulder home, and our daily actions shape our community. We’ve proven that by protecting natural habitats, creating a world-class network of bike paths and greenways, and passing the nation’s first tax designed to lower greenhouse gases. Achieving zero waste is the next item on our to-do list.

In the next few years, Boulder aims to:


Expand recycling and composting opportunities to all residents, businesses, employees and visitors.


Connect community members with unique zero waste services to help people reuse and recycle more.


Upgrade the Boulder County Recycling Center to allow more materials to be recycled.

we are zero waste boulder

Introductory video

Ready to take the next step?

Find more information to put these ideas into action.

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