Boulder, CO Declaring a Zero Waste Community

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Boulder, CO, US

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Type: Resolution

Status: Adopted on 5/2/06

Source File:



WHEREAS, an estimated 156,773 tons of waste is generated in the city of Boulder each year by residents, businesses and institutions and approximately 70% of this amount is sent for landfill disposal;

WHEREAS, though the city of Boulder has reached an overall recycling rate of more than 30% percent, more can be done, especially in “closing the loop” by purchasing products made with recycled content;

WHEREAS, the placement of materials in waste disposal facilities, such as landfills and incinerators wastes natural resources, transfers liabilities to future generations and has the potential to cause damage to human health;

WHEREAS, avoiding the creation of waste or discards in the first place is the most economically efficient and environmentally sustainable resource management strategy;

WHEREAS, a resource recovery-based economy will create and sustain more productive and meaningful jobs than a disposal-based economy;

WHEREAS, with the appropriate economic incentives, manufacturers can and will produce and businesses will sell products that are durable and repairable and that can be safely recycled back into the marketplace or nature;

WHEREAS, government can be ultimately responsible for establishing criteria needed to eliminate waste, for creating the economic and regulatory environment in which to achieve it, and for leading by example, and

WHEREAS, the city of Boulder has positioned itself as an environmental leader among local governments by adopting environmental initiatives, programs and policies including the broad community vision contained in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, City Council’s Environmental Sustainability Goal, city recycling and environmental purchasing policies, and the city Master Plan for Waste Reduction,

WHEREAS, the guiding principles of zero waste are: managing resources instead of waste, conserving natural resources through waste prevention and recycling, turning discarded resources into jobs and new products instead of trash, promoting products and materials that are durable and recyclable, and discouraging products and materials that can only become trash after their use.


The city of Boulder hereby encourages the pursuit of Zero Waste as a long-term goal in order to eliminate waste and pollution in the manufacture, use, storage, and recycling of materials. This goal must be addressed through the choices Council will make in the context of the city’s Business Plan and annual budget processes, by initiating action plans and measures that significantly reduce waste and pollution. These measures will include encouraging residents, businesses and agencies through incentives and legislation to judiciously use, reuse, and recycle materials, as well as to motivate businesses to manufacture and market less toxic and more durable, repairable, reusable, recycled, and recyclable products. In all cases, the guiding principles of the city’s Master Plan for Waste Reduction will be followed. Mandatory programs will be employed only if the infrastructure exists and if convenient, voluntary programs prove not to be successful.

The city of Boulder will also review its own policies, contracts, and standard operating procedures to incorporate zero waste provisions and actions into all aspects of its organizational culture to encourage the use of materials and products that are durable, repairable, and reusable, have a minimum of packaging, toxic content or chemical hazard potential, are resource and energy efficient in their manufacture, use and disposal, and in their use or disposal minimize or eliminate the city's potential environmental liability.