(This post was contributed by the city of Boulder)
Boulder is working to become a zero waste community. This means reducing the waste we create and then reusing, recycling and composting 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. This effort takes participation from everyone, from residents recycling at the curb, to businesses having the correct waste set-ups, to visitors composting their ice cream cones on Pearl Street.
A key part of Boulder’s zero waste efforts is policy. The Universal Zero Waste Ordinance, adopted by council in 2015, requires all property owners to subscribe to trash, recycling and composting collection services, and all businesses to have appropriate bins, signs and employee training. After several years of focusing on outreach, assistance and complaint-based enforcement, the city is phasing in a reporting requirement, where businesses will be required to report their compliance with the ordinance to the city’s Climate Initiatives Department. The ability to require reporting has always been part of the ordinance, though with the most recent update to the City Manager’s Rules that govern this ordinance, there are now official deadlines.
By June 30, 2019, and annually thereafter, all Boulder restaurants and grocery stores will be required to report their compliance. By June 30, 2020, and annually thereafter, all Boulder food producing businesses will be required to report. No sooner than June 30, 2021, the City Manager may also require other businesses and property owners to annually report. Compliance is reported through a simple, online form.
The city has many resources available to help businesses, including a step-by-step guidebook and easy ways to train employees. The city has also given away over $130,000 in compostable bags to Boulder businesses through its Green Bag Giveaway program.
We are already seeing success from the ordinance. Since it began in 2015, diversion rates have gone from 39% of waste being kept out of the landfill to 57% now. We have seen improvements each year as all sectors of the community help move the needle of progress forward.
90% of what ends up in Boulder’s landfill is recyclable or compostable. Together, we can change that. Thanks for doing your part to help Boulder become a zero waste community.