Boulder Makes Zero Waste History!
In June, Boulder City Council unanimously voted to approve a new Universal Zero Waste Ordinance that requires ALL property owners, including homeowners, to provide recycle, compost and trash service and ALL local businesses, including schools, nonprofits, and institutions, to sort materials for recycling and composting.
This makes Boulder the first city in Colorado and the third city in the nation, along with Seattle and San Francisco, to require all businesses citywide to recycle and compost.
This is an important step towards reducing local pollution that adds to climate change and achieving the city's Zero Waste goal of diverting 85 percent of waste from the landfill by 2025.
By requiring all local businesses to recycle, we will be able to double the amount of commercial material we recycle and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 36,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equal to taking 4,000 cars off the road every year. ("Zero Waste Evaluation Study: Final Report," Kessler Consulting, 2013.)
FAQs about the Boulder's Zero Waste Ordinance
All property owners, including single-family homeowners, apartments and condominium owners, Home Owner Associations and business properties will be required to maintain a current and valid contract with one or more haulers providing the removal of trash, recyclables and compostables AND establish on-site collection for recyclable and compostable materials convenient to occupants and tenants by June 17, 2016.
ALL businesses must separate recyclable and compostable material from the trash and provide recyclables and compostables containers for employees and customers by September 17, 2016.
Property owners and businesses may apply to the city for exemptions to these requirements for the following reasons:
Extreme economic hardship
Low generation of volume of trash, recyclables or compostables
Compliance would violate other codes or regulations
Self-hauling of trash, recyclables or compostables
Shared collection services with another property owner
Reuse or repurpose of a significant portion of waste generated
The city may fine violators of the ordinance $500 for first violation, $1000 for second violation, $2000 for third and subsequent violations—although the focus for the first year will be on educating and helping businesses to come into compliance, rather than issuing fines.
Did You Know?
- Businesses in Boulder recycle and compost only 28% of their trash, according to the most recent city data.
- Only 33 percent of the waste produced by the entire city is recycled and composted each year.
- The city wants to increase that amount to 85 percent by 2025. Let's help Boulder meet that goal.
Learn more about Business Recycling in Boulder
Boulder is a leader with its Zero Waste Master Plan and many of its Zero Waste programs, but we’re falling behind on achieving our goals and other cities are proving we could be doing a LOT better.
Leading communities are recovering more than 60% of their waste and pushing toward 70%, even 80%!
Leading US communities require businesses to recycle as a key strategy toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and moving toward Zero Waste. Businesses in Seattle lead the way by recycling and composting more than 60% of their waste! That’s nearly twice as much as Boulder businesses.
Click on the map to learn more about leading cities around the US and the policies they use to increase business recycling.
There are a LOT of businesses in Boulder that are leading the way toward Zero Waste by recycling, composting, reusing materials, rethinking their purchasing practices and refusing to accept waste as “normal.” Western Disposal recognizes local businesses with its Excellence in Waste Diversion Awards while Eco-Cycle has a list of its Zero Waste Business Partners.
These businesses ROCK, and we owe them a lot for their voluntary efforts to help build a sustainable Boulder. It's time we get every business on board!
It’s time every business in Boulder did at least the bare minimum when it comes to recycling.
Education and financial incentives are a great way to boost recycling rates, and the City of Boulder, Boulder County and Eco-Cycle have provided this to businesses for 25 years. It’s brought us where we are today, and we’re thankful for the great work that’s been done so far.
But around the world and here at home we’re seeing that voluntary programs can only deliver so much change. A policy approach can be more cost-effective and have a far larger impact, and we don’t think Boulder can reach its Climate Action Plan goals or its Zero Waste Master Plan goals without a policy on business recycling.
Most communities rely upon education, rather than strict policing, to let businesses know about the new policy and help them set up their bins, train their staff, and improve their programs. There is usually an adjustment period of 18-24 months before any enforcement happens.
Businesses aren’t fined if there is a single cardboard box in their trash dumpster. The goal is to work with businesses and recycling haulers to find the right program for everyone and use enforcement only when a business refuses to participate or excessively contaminates recycling bins even after several attempts at education and assistance.
Want to know more?
Please feel free to contact our Director of Community Campaigns, Randy Moorman, via email or at 303.444.6634, ext. 131