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Zero waste Regulations

Zero Waste regulation

The City of Boulder sees regulation as an important piece of a larger strategy to achieve community zero waste goals. The city manages regulations to encourage compliance and offers how-to resources, advising services and financial incentives and rebates. Read on to learn more about Boulder’s current zero waste regulations. We look forward to partnering with you as we move our community one step closer to zero waste!

Disposable Bag Fee

In November 2012, City Council passed a Disposable Bag Fee Ordinance requiring a 10-cent fee for disposable plastic and paper checkout bags at all grocery stores in Boulder. The bag fee does not apply to restaurants, bulk or produce bags, newspaper bags, or any other kind of food packaging bags. Since the fee went into effect in 2012, bag fee use in Boulder has decreased by 68 percent.

Trash Tax

The trash tax is an occupation tax on trash haulers serving customers within the city limits and helps fund waste reduction efforts in Boulder. Most haulers pass the tax on to customers as part of their trash service bills. Boulder also has a waste hauling ordinance that applies to all haulers.

Universal Zero Waste Ordinance

On June 16, 2015, City Council adopted a Universal Zero Waste Ordinance (Boulder Revised Code Title 6, Chapter 3 and Title 6, Chapter 12) to expand recycling and composting to all Boulder residents, employees and visitors by requiring the following:

  • All single-family homeowners subscribe to waste hauling services; 

  • All property owners (commercial and residential, including multi-family complexes and HOAs) provide adequate trash, recycling and composting service to their tenants and occupants;

  • All businesses separate recyclables and compostables from the trash; providing properly placed containers and signs to facilitate the collection of recyclables and compostables;

  • All special events in Boulder provide both recycling and compost collection;

  • Businesses must report compliance with the ordinance to the city.  By June 30, 2019 and annually thereafter, all restaurants and grocery stores are required to report.  By June 30, 2020 and annually thereafter, all food producing businesses are required to report. And n o sooner than June 30, 2021, the City Manager may also require other businesses and property owners to annually report.

  • A “six-day review” special trash collection period in August for student move-in/move-out including requirements for daily trash and at least twice per week recycling collection; and

  • All recyclable materials be directed to the Boulder County Recycling Center, with a provision allowing the city manager to set conditions under which clean, pre-sorted paper may be sold elsewhere.