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What Is Zero Waste?#

Rather than considering discarded materials as problems to our Fort Collins community, Zero Waste recognizes these as resources that need to be better managed to reinvest in the local economy.

Zero Waste (PDF 149KB) approach creates local jobs, helps local businesses operate more efficiently at reduced costs and liabilities, and reduces greenhouse gases.

View a presentation about the Road to Zero Waste Project: Fort Collins Waste Reduction

Vision For Zero Waste Adopted By City Council#

The Fort Collins community has been so successful with exceeding waste-reduction goals that the City is now aiming for zero waste by 2030. In December 2013, the Fort Collins City Council adopted 11 new waste reduction goals after an extensive nine-month planning process. Read the Waste Reduction and Recycling Plan: On the Road to Zero Waste for more information regarding Fort Collins' next steps.

View the Road to Zero Waste Plan

Zero Waste Vision#

In 1999, the City of Fort Collins set the goal to divert 50% of its waste from landfills. In 2016, the Fort Collins community achieved a 51.1% diversion rate, meaning that 51.1% of the materials generated by the community were recycled or composted.

In December 2013, after an extensive nine-month planning process, the Fort Collins City Council adopted ambitious waste reduction goals, with an aim for zero waste by 2030. A path to achieving these goals is outlined by the Waste Reduction and Recycling Plan: On the Road to Zero Waste


Waste reduction goals adopted by Fort Collins City Council in 2013:

  • 2020 Goals
    • 75% diversion
    • 3.5 pounds / day / capita of waste generation
  • 2025 Goals
    • 90% diversion
    • 2.8 pounds / day / capita of waste generation
  • 2030 Goal
    • Zero Waste

The plan reflects a number of key community values:

  1. Expanded re-use, recycling, and composting to recover material resources from discarded wastes, which also create jobs and local revenue.
  2. Support for climate protection that aligns with Fort Collins’ Climate Action Plan.
  3. Increased reduction of waste at the source as a fundamental approach.
  4. Appropriate collection systems for more types of discards, with attention to “carbon footprints” for transportation methods.
  5. Consideration for source separation of material resources, if it can help optimize recovery.
  6. Application of Triple Bottom Line (TBL) evaluations, life-cycle analyses, and greenhouse gas emissions calculations to develop and prioritize implementation strategies.
  7. Product stewardship and extended producer responsibility programs that recognize that discarded products have value as potential feedstock, second-life products, and energy resources.
  8. Zero Waste programs based on the premise that waste generation represents an economic inefficiency that can be eliminated.
  9. Waste-to-Energy facilities that recover renewable energy from solid waste using conversion technologies such as bio-digestion, gasification, and pyrolysis that have the potential to derive the highest resource value from waste materials.
  10. Inventory and analysis of the assets and liabilities inherent in public ownership of local facilities/infrastructure for managing local waste streams. 

Community Conversations#

Throughout the summer and fall of 2013 City staff worked closely with residents and businesses in the Fort Collins community to gather input and help shape the Road to Zero Waste plan. Click here to review the in-depth community engagement process.

View Community Engagement Process