Purchasing and Zero Waste Sub-Committee

Boulder County is committed to Sustainability and has created Purchasing and Zero Waste policies to ensure all our efforts are sustainable.

In accordance with these documents, County staff has reduced purchasing and moved to automatic use of 100% post-consumer recycled paper for necessary copying jobs.

Other Zero Waste Policies direct staff to host only “Zero Waste Events” in county buildings that have recycling and composting service (almost every building) and to refrain from buying bottled water. County facilities purchase locally generated compost for landscaping and roads projects and have also begun to use recycled asphalt shingles in road construction projects.

Green Purchasing and Zero Waste Committee


Our green purchasing and zero waste practices ensure a sustainable future for the County organization and provide a model for the community.


  • Improve our Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) policy through education and creating additional standards and requirements.
  • Approach zero waste (or darn near) through education and enhanced reduce, reuse, recycle and composting opportunities. 
  • Model, promote and facilitate environmental sustainability in the community. 
  • Provide education and leadership for county employees to take personal responsibility for the environment


  • Conduct one or more "Green showcase" with Office Max (completed)
  • Re-write Environmentally Preferable Purchasing policy (completed)
  • Survey target departments/divisions (completed)
  • Launch pilot composting program, zero waste at county fair (completed)
  • Promote double-sided printing, faxing, copying (completed)
  • Draft a recycling/zero waste policy (completed)
  • Expand subcommittee & Collaborate with other subcommittees (pending)
  • Develop long-term strategy: county departments, community-wide (pending)
  • Develop a mass balance - what are we wasting? 
  • Increase use of durable and reusable goods

Existing Actions by Department


  • EPP policy
  • 100% recycled paper policy
  • 100% post-consumer recycled content white office paper use is up to 25%
  • 50% post-consumer recycled content white office paper use is up to 64%
  • 30% post-consumer recycled content white office paper use is at 6%
  • 0% post-consumer recycled content white office paper use is at 1%
  • The other 4% of paper purchases are made up of colored paper, colored cardstock, and inkjet, laser & color copy paper with some recycled content, from 0% up to 100%.
  • Non-recyclable ("Kraft") envelopes purchasing policy (let’s discuss)
  • Electronic purchase order procedures
  • Electronic invoicing procedures 
  • Minimal packaging and Energy Star compliance in bids / RFPs; bids can now be submitted electronically
  • Trade-in language
  • Increased online services
  • Office Max reusable delivery boxes 
  • Vehicle replacement criteria changes; fuel economy & GHG emissions, age, mileage

Resource Conservation - Zero Waste

  • In-house recycling program (215 tons in 2010 = 144 tons of single-stream, 70 tons of confidential, 1 ton of books recycled)
  • In-house composting program: 50 tons of food waste composted in 2010 
  • In-house Hazardous waste roundups: 6 tons in 2010
  • In-house electronic-waste roundups: 1.3 tons in 2010
  • In-house book collection (for paperback & hard cover books)
  • In-house Zero Waste Champions (liaisons) in each office
  • Recycling guidelines, bin stickers and posters used in the larger Boulder County community
  • In-house reusables for meetings
  • Community Outreach Program Funding offered for waste reduction infrastructure and Zero Waste education through the Resource Conservation Division (1997 – 2011: $903,203)
  • Internal County Waste Analysis and Characterization Study 2010-2011; 2 rounds of waste composition studies completed for the in-house trash, recycling and compost waste streams

Resource Conservation - Education and Outreach

  • Recycling Center tours. Over 4000 people tour the Boulder County Municipal Recycling Facility (MRF) each year.
  • 5 drop-off recycling centers
  • County Fair recycling
  • Boulder County Fair, recycling a Zero Waste event for 4 years running, as of 2010
  • In-house staff training

Building Services

  • LEED EB purchasing guide established for EB buildings
  • Use chemicals with the lowest HMIS rating possible and go beyond biodegradability and phosphate free as environmentally friendly standards
  • Use local compost on grounds
  • 4-cycle mowers
  • Use reusable and rechargeable batteries
  • Modular/reusable furniture
  • Recycle/reuse construction scraps
  • Use long life-cycle and recycled content materials
  • Low water-use fixtures and landscapes
  • Consider sustainability choices and effects on projects

Information Technology

  • Trade-ins
  • All printers specified as duplexers
  • Long-life, energy saving flat-screen monitors
  • Online phone book
  • E-waste recycled
  • SEC Partner

Parks and Open Space

  • Bio-fuel system at new parks building
  • Recycling at some trailheads
  • Re-use/scatter trail construction debris
  • Recycled plastic wheel stops
  • Compost bedding at fair
  • Low toxic chainsaw cleaners
  • Recycling abandoned tires found on Open Space
  • Wood waste, brush, and limbs, chipped or mulched for reuse

Printing and Mailing

  • Low VOC vegetable inks
  • Hazardous waste management
  • Reuse and recycling
  • Electronic Bids

Sheriff's Office

  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Long life-span equipment
  • Donate outdated equipment
  • Jail Battery Recycling


  • Gravel, dirt, concrete, and asphalt recycling
  • Asphalt Shingles Recycling program


  • Car and truck batteries, oil, antifreeze recycling


  • License plate recycling - public program


Sustainability Office

Lisa Friend, Sustainability Planner

Boulder County Courthouse
First floor
1325 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80302

Map & Directions

Mailing Address

PO Box 471
Boulder, CO 80306