Important Updates:

The city expands beta to preview its new website and gather feedback. | More Info


The City of Boulder welcomes your feedback. Use our Inquire Boulder customer service tool to tell us what’s on your mind.

Boulder Special Events


Everyone likes a party, but no one likes to see plates, cups and wrapping paper go from the store to the landfill in a few hours. The City of Boulder supports event organizers in creating successful events that send little waste, if any, to the landfill.

New zero waste requirements for special events

As of Jan. 1, 2016, all city-permitted events must provide recyclables and compostables collection in compliance with the city’s special events permit requirements. As such, the city will no longer be offering zero waste event rebates.

Specific information on zero waste event requirements at city events and supporting documents needed for special events applications can be found in the Zero Waste Requirements for Special Events document.

Host a zero waste EVENT

Make a statement by hosting a zero waste party, birthday, shower, picnic or barbeque! It’s easy! Below are  some guidelines to help you make your next event a zero waste success!

Here's what you'll need:

  • Zero waste service ware (plates, cups, utensils)
  • Low-waste packaging
  • Good signage that indicates what materials can be composted, recycled and landfilled
  • Bins and bags for recycling, compost and trash

Even if everything at your event is compostable and recyclable, keep at least one trash can handy in case guests bring landfill materials with them.

Your Zero Waste Event

  • Service ware

    Plan ahead when buying or renting goods because large quantities may not always be available. Check with your waste hauler to see what materials they accept and where to buy or rent service ware. Avoid mixing service ware. Stick to one type of plate and one type of utensil. Know your options and their impact:


    1. Reusable cutlery and service ware (best)

    2. Compostable service ware (good)

    3. Plastic service ware (okay, but make sure it goes in the trash)



    • Shop for Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) certified compostable service ware.  Biodegradable service ware will not completely break down and will leave petroleum residue behind.  BPI and US Composting Council are helpful sites.

    • The Boulder County Recycling Center does not accept plastic cups. Use compostable cups instead.

  • Preparing Food
    • Buy food platters and condiment bottles instead of single-servings and packets.

    • Buy food that won’t require utensils – finger food!

    • Look for products with minimal packaging or packaging that is either compostable or recyclable.

    • When buying beverages, be mindful of ways to recycle or compost containers.

      No plastic straws or stir sticks. Choose wooden stirrers instead – they are compostable.

  • Signage and bins
    • You can download general horizontal zero waste event signs or vertical zero waste event signs for your event.

    • Make sure attendees know that your event is zero waste.

    • Place recycling, compost and trash bins side by side as “zero waste stations.”

    • Use signs to indicate what items go where. Taping a sample of each item to the appropriate bin or sign can also be very effective in guiding attendees to the right bin.

    • Appoint a few guests as zero waste representatives who can help answer questions and monitor bins for contamination (items in the wrong bin).

  • After the Event

    Clean-up after a zero waste event is very important. Make sure you have a good clean-up plan in place before the event begins. Some things to consider:


    • Package leftover food into reusable containers.

    • Donate food you won’t eat to charities, such as Boulder Food Rescue, Boulder Homeless Shelter, and the Emergency Family Assistance Association.

    • Scrape leftover food scraps into compost.

    • Examine waste bins for any large contaminants. If any of your bins contain a number of contaminants (items in the wrong place), sort these items or send bin contents to the landfill.

    • Recycle, compost and landfill bins as appropriate