Did you know?
Businesses in Boulder recycle only 17% of their trash.
For every one bag of trash Boulder homes send to the landfill, Boulder businesses send three.
Recycling is one of the fastest, cheapest ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, yet many of our local businesses aren’t even doing the bare minimum--they are not even recycling.
Everybody in Boulder—citizens, businesses, organizations and policy makers—has a role to play in achieving our climate and Zero Waste goals.
It’s time businesses do their part.
Get involved: Take the Cooling the Climate pledge
Thank you for taking the pledge! NOW, check out our Take Action Toolkit for five more easy ways you can help improve business recycling in Boulder and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
42% of greenhouse gas emissions are created by producing, consuming and disposing of our "stuff" and our food.
Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions
Recycling is one of the easiest, fastest and most cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce waste.
You're doing your part
You're doing your part at home and at school.
Businesses are lagging behind
But some businesses don't even have a recycling bin. Overall Boulder businesses only recycle 17% of their waste.
We can do better for Boulder!
Help us double the business recycling rate in five years!
Learn more about Business Recycling in Boulder
Boulder diverts just over 40% of its waste from the landfill. That’s slightly better than the national average of 35%. But it’s only halfway to our goal of 85% diversion by 2017!
The business sector only recycles 17% of its waste. This includes cardboard, paper and containers, as well as CHaRM materials like computers and plastic film.
Businesses in Boulder send more than three times as much trash to the landfill as Boulder homes.
Boulder homes recycle an average of 33% of their waste, doing nearly twice as well as businesses.
Businesses compost 17% of their waste in addition to recycling. This is mostly food scraps along with some yard trimmings and paper products like paper towels and napkins.
Combined, businesses recycle and compost about one-third of their total waste. Yet Boulder homes are doing a far better job and recycling and composting 60% of their waste.
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%!
Boulder homes and schools are doing a great job and keeping pace with other leading communities. But while you’re doing your part at home and at school, many businesses don’t even have a recycling bin.
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. But we’re not going to reach our goals without having everyone 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.
In order to meet our goal of doubling the business recycling rate in five years, we’re going to need a policy that makes recycling the norm at every business in Boulder. Businesses would be required to separate out common recyclable materials from their trash. This would include all the materials currently recycled by residents and schools in the “single stream recycling programs,” as overseen by the City Manager.
More than 20% of the US population lives in an area that requires businesses to recycle. Onondaga County, NY has required businesses to recycle since 1989 and has diverted more than 60% of its waste for more than a decade.
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?