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What does a sustainable, Zero Waste City need?

Resource Recovery Centers

Zero Waste Cities don’t invest taxpayer dollars to build landfills or incinerators that pollute, destroy natural resources and create a long-term, toxic liability problem. Instead, they build resource recovery centers that collect discards and put the revenues back into the local economy, creating 10 times more local jobs for a long-term local economic and job growth solution.


Recycling Center Milestones & Updates

Boulder County Recycling Center: 10 years and millions of dollars into recycling opportunities for the community

Every community working toward Zero Waste has a MRF (Materials Recovery Facility) to process traditional recyclables like paper, plastic, cans and glass. In our community, our MRF is the publicly-owned, Eco-Cycle-operated Boulder County Recycling Center.


In 2012, the facility will cross the milestone of 500,000 tons processed. It’s a perfect example of how a relationship between a public entity (Boulder County) and a private entity (non-profit Eco-Cycle) can create a win/win situation for the community.


CHaRM: Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials

The CHaRM recently celebrated 10 YEARS as the first facility in the nation (and perhaps the world) created to recycle unusual materials from electronics to yoga mats. In its first ten years, the CHaRM helped 185,292 customers responsibly recycle 8,417,108 pounds of materials. The facility has expanded beyond its physical capacity, and Eco-Cycle and the City of Boulder are working together to find ways to move us to a new, larger location. Learn more about the CHaRM on p. 26-27.


New! Hazardous Materials Management (HMM) Facility

The new Boulder County HMM Facility was recently constructed to better collect toxic materials from households and small businesses. Learn more about the HMM Facility.


View a full list of resource recovery facilities in Boulder County.

What We Still Need for a Zero Waste Community

To reach our Zero Waste goals, we need more infrastructure. We have some great facilities already in place, but to get to 85% recovery and higher, and to reduce our climate impact, we need funding strategies for two more essential facilities:


1. A facility for recycling construction and demolition materials.


2. A publicly-owned, commercial-scale compost facility. When organic materials such as food and yard debris go into the landfill, they create methane, a greenhouse gas 72 times more efficient at trapping heat than CO2. Getting organic matter OUT of the landfills and into a compost facility is one of the fastest, easiest and least expensive ways a community can seriously reduce its climate impact. It also creates a healthy fertilizer to go back into local soils. But we don’t have a public compost facility, and the privately-owned options are either too far away or not large enough to handle the volumes the commercial sector could generate.


Zero Waste Around the World

In Brazil, New Laws Create Local Jobs: Nearly one million wastepickers earn a living in Brazil by scavenging recyclables out of mixed garbage. This group has been socially marginalized until now. New laws have been written to formally support their work and incorporate it into the country’s recycling goals. This is a milestone win for wastepickers all over the world in recognizing their value-added and an about-face from the global status quo of rejecting wastepickers in favor of fancy trash trucks and substantially less recycling.

Read more examples of Zero Waste Around the World.



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