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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 by June 2016; 

  • All property managers provide adequate trash, recycling and composting service to their tenants and occupants by June 2016;

  • All businesses separate recyclables and compostables from the trash; providing properly placed containers and signage to facilitate the collection of recyclables and compostables by September 2016;

  • All special events in Boulder provide both recycling and composting collection by June 2016;

  • A “six-day review” special trash collection period in August for student move-in begin to also include a requirement for 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.

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