CU is among a growing number of schools that have adopted and adapted the Zero Waste International Alliance definition and principles for colleges and universities.  ZWIA adopted the first, and only, peer-reviewed, internationally accepted definition of Zero Waste on November 29, 2004.

“Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide campuses in changing their policies and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.

Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.

Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”  Campuses that achieve over 90% diversion of waste from landfills and incinerators are considered to be successful in achieving Zero Waste.

More background and a discussion group is available here

 Dispose, Treat, Recover, Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, Avoid.

A new hierarchy for solid waste management.

Principles of CU’s Commitment to Zero Waste

CU’s goal is to reach Zero Waste by 2025, which is consistent with Boulder Countuy and the State of Colorado.  Although 90 percent diversion is a typical Zero Waste goal, there are numerous prinicples that guide CU ‘s daily progress.

1.    Shared Responsibility

2.    Accurate Economics

3.    Balances a Triple Bottom-Line

4.    Cornerstone of Climate Action Plans

5.    Emphasis on Precycling

6.    Design for Diversion

7.    High Diversion

8.    Highest and Best Use

9.    Preference for Environmentally Preferable Products

10.  Higher Education Involvement

CU's Zero Waste Policies

CU Master Plan Goal

CU Student Government Legislation

State Zero Waste Goal




For a comprehensive set of zero waste resources, visit CU's Zero Waste Resource Center, in collaboration with the NRC's Campus Council