photo by Sara Bruskin

Boulder has lots of room for improvement in recycling efforts

Boulder has been lauded as an environmentally conscious city whose residents care deeply about sustainability, but we have lots of room for improvement in one area: recycling. In 2015, only 39 percent of Boulder’s waste was recycled or composted, leaving over 60 percent for the landfill. Comparatively, Portland, Ore., has reached 70-percent recycling rates, while San Jose, Los Angeles and San Francisco all hover between 75 and 80 percent.

In an effort to catch up with these sustainability superstars, Boulder has unrolled its Zero Waste Initiative with a goal of diverting 85 percent of its waste by 2025. The universal ordinance, which took effect last year, mandates that all properties, businesses and special events in Boulder must offer both recycling and composting bins as well as trash bins. Diversion rates for 2016 had not been announced at press time, but should show progress as Boulderites get more comfortable with the triple-bin system.

Alexis Bullen, the city’s sustainability communications specialist, has some tips for supporting the zero-waste goal. First of all, she says, “People can learn what can be reused or recycled along ‘Recycle Row.’ You can recycle everything from yoga mats to mattresses at these facilities.” Conveniently close together, they include Eco-Cycle’s Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) and the Center for ReSource Conservation’s ReSource Yards, at 6400 Arapahoe Ave., plus Boulder County’s household hazardous-waste facility, located across the road at 1901 63rd St.

“If you see a business which needs assistance getting their setup correct, or if you live at a property which does not yet have service,” Bullen adds, “you can let the city know by emailing” For more information about the Zero Waste Initiative, visit

—By Sara Bruskin

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