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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. As of 2018, we generate new materials from 51 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'S Rules

The City Manager's Rules include details about the implementation of 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; 

  • 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.

Additional Ordinance Information

  • Get Help to Comply

    The city manages these requirements to encourage compliance and has developed many resources to assist in DIY compliance.

    Please contact [email protected] or 303-441-1931 to request assistance, or refer to the City Manager's Rules for additional details about how to comply with requirements.

  • Exemptions and Requirements

    In limited cases, a business or property owner may apply for an exemption from complying with the requirements of the Universal Zero Waste Ordinance. 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. 

    Please review the exemption descriptions before submitting the Compliance Reporting Form that includes a section for exemption requests.

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.