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boulder universal zero waste ordinance

zero waste boulder

Boulder is working to become a zero waste community, where we reduce the waste we create and then 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. Today, we generate new materials from 34 percent of our waste.

The Universal Zero Waste Ordinance is just one of many zero waste efforts contributing to Boulder’s zero waste future.

City Manager Rules

The City Manager's Rules include details about the implementation of new universal zero waste requirements and how to comply with the Universal Zero Waste Ordinance.  

What is the universal zero waste ordinance?

On June 16, 2015, City Council adopted new universal zero waste requirements (Boulder Revised Code Title 6, Chapter 3 and Title 6, Chapter 12) that seek 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;

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

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

  • 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.

Additional Ordinance Information

  • Get Help to Comply

    The city will be managing these requirements to encourage compliance. The city has developed a business toolkit and a property owner toolkit to assist in DIY compliance. The city also provides assistance to any property owner or business that wants help with bin ordering, bin placement, signs or general zero waste assistance. The city offers rebates for new zero waste programs and adding additional bins at your business, as well as grants for property owners who need to expand their bin enclosures to comply with the ordinance.

    Please contact to request assistance, or refer to the City Manager's Rules for additional details about how to comply with new requirements.

  • Exemptions and Requirements

    In limited cases, a business or property owner may apply for a one year exemption from complying with the requirements of the Universal Zero Waste Ordinance. City staff will review exemption applications and work with the applicants to bring the location into compliance. In order to be granted an exemption, applicants must demonstrate they have considered all reasonable options that would bring their business or property into compliance. 

    To apply for an exemption, review exemption descriptions. If you think your business or property may be eligible to receive an exemption, submit an exemption request intake form. 

Explore Boulder's Zero Waste Action Plan

Our community has big plans.  See our zero waste action plan or full strategic plan to learn more about Boulder's path to a zero waste future.

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