Colorado Daily (Boulder, Colo.), November 23, 2005
COMMISSIONERS ANNOUNCE 'ZERO WASTE' POLICY
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.