Colorado Daily (Boulder, Colo.)  [Printer-friendly version]
November 23, 2005


By Colorado Daily Staff

The Boulder County Commissioners took a significant step forward on
Tuesday when they adopted "Zero Waste" as a guiding principle for
government decision-making, according to a county press release.

This move puts Boulder County in the company of some other progressive
communities, such as San Francisco and New Zealand, that are also
taking significant action to eliminate the concept of waste management
and instead create systems for "resource management." The policy
proposed by the Commissioners requires that a "Zero Waste Plan for
Boulder County" be completed by the end of next year.

"The idea that waste and its resulting pollution and environmental
devastation is a necessary evil no longer holds true," said Eric
Lombardi, Eco-Cycle Executive Director and President of the national
zero waste organization, the GrassRoots Recycling Network.

"Waste is a result of bad decision-making, and with the right mixture
of leadership and incentives those decisions can be changed. The
elimination of 'waste' isn't a technological problem; it is an
economic and political opportunity to change the rules of society such
that industry designs everything, and I do mean everything, to be
easily reused, recycled or composted. Colorado ranks near the bottom
in national recycling rates, but our county elected officials have
been working closely with Eco-Cycle and other stake holders to set a
different example of true resource conservation for the state and for
the rest of the nation," said Lombardi.

The County Commissioners are adopting Zero Waste as a guiding
principal for all county operations and for outreach and actions
within the community. The County staff has been directed to develop a
Zero Waste Plan for Boulder County that will address Boulder County
"the organization," and Boulder County "the community and geographic
area." Boulder County is committing to "promote, facilitate, and model
Zero Waste in the community."

The Plan will be designed to achieve the initial goal of increasing
waste diversion from the landfill for the Boulder County government
and for the county as a whole to 50 percent or better by the year
2010. The ultimate goal of Boulder County's Zero Waste Plan is to
design systems that eliminate the production of waste and achieve Zero
Waste or "darn near" by 2025.

Boulder County has no landfills within its borders and all of the
discarded materials from homes and businesses that aren't recovered
are sent to landfills in Weld and Jefferson counties. Over the last
year there has been a contentious battle over expanding the "trash
mountain" in Erie, with neighbors voicing concern for the toxins
emitted from the landfill and from the impact to their property
values. In the end the landfill company won.

Landfills are the number one source of human-made methane, the second
most important greenhouse gas, as well as the source of "leachate," a
toxic liquid that will eventually seep into the groundwater under
every landfill ever built. The last landfill to operate in Boulder
County, Marshall Landfill, was closed in 1992 and declared a Superfund
site due to groundwater contamination of Broomfield's drinking water.
Since closing, the City of Boulder and the landfill owner have spent
over $14 million in groundwater and site clean-up activities.