June 2, 2023

Advancing Sustainability



At Denver Zoo we recognize our operations directly impact the well-being of the natural environment. In order to carry out our mission, Inspiring Communities to Save Wildlife for Future Generations, we must start by focusing on operational sustainability on our 80-acre campus and throughout our supply chains. We are embracing the challenge of making our 127 year-old organization environmentally sustainable and resilient. We are dedicated to serving as an environmental leader, both in the industry and within our community.

Denver Zoo is proud of the three major publicly announced targets from our Sustainability Objectives and Targets program:

  • Energy: 25% reduction in energy use by 2025 from a 2018 baseline. 100% renewable electricity use by 2030.

  • Water: 50% reduction in water use by 2025 from a 2018 baseline.

  • Waste: Zero Waste campus by 2025 (defined as a 90% landfill diversion rate)


Waste Diversion and promotion of a circular economy: Our animals and operations produce a lot of waste! Most of that waste can be recycled, composted, donated, reused, or repurposed instead of being sent to a landfill. We are committed to reducing landfill waste wherever possible and supporting a more circular economy.

Water stewardship and conservation: Clean, accessible water is a pressing issue locally and globally. We are dedicated to keeping harmful contaminants out of our local waterways and reducing water use to support a clean water future for all.

Reduction of fossil fuel use through improving mobility, energy efficiency, and supporting renewable energy sources: From vehicles to computers, energy has transformed human life and connected us in unimaginable ways. Unfortunately, traditional fossil fuel energy is the primary cause of a rapidly changing climate and loss of biodiversity. We are committed to a clean-energy future that supports diverse ecosystems and robust economies.

Denver Zoo has already accomplished a lot in these areas! As of Earth Day 2023, we have achieved more than 70% reduction in annual water consumption since 1999, an average of 60% waste diversion from landfills, and continual reductions in annual energy use despite exhibit expansions.

We are at the tipping point right now and must reach beyond the low-hanging fruit of LED lighting retrofits, HVAC and water filtration system upgrades, and composting and recycling. We need to be innovative and pursue the latest in Net Zero Electricity principles, efficient and resilient building design, water conservation efforts, smart materials use and circular economy programs, and strategic greenhouse gas analysis and reduction. And we need your help! When you visit the zoo, help us by correctly recycling and composting (don't wish-cycle- if you're not sure put it in the trash!). Refill your water bottle at the refill stations located throughout the campus. Visit us by carpooling, walking, biking, or taking the bus. Your efforts protect the natural environment for wildlife and future generations. Thank you.


Our new partnership with Ridwell is one way we're expanding the materials we recycle. Through Ridwell we're able to recycle the plastic film produced from our behind-the-scenes operations. This includes plastic animal feed comes wrapped in to the plastic packaging from goodies in the giftshop. As of May 2023 we've diverted over 600 lbs of plastic wrap from the landfill. We continue to work with our suppliers and vendors to reduce the amount of plastic that enters the zoo, but Ridwell ensures that the plastic we can't reduce is recycled.

Join Denver Zoo and Ridwell, the hard-to-recycle item experts, for a special event! On Sunday, June 25, Ridwell will be at the Zoo collecting waste items AND signing folks up for a one-month FREE trial

Ridwell will be collecting:

  • Plastic bags (grocery bags, produce bags, bread bags, etc.)
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Bubble wrap
  • Air pillows
  • Plastic wrap (cling wrap)
  • Shrink wrap (from cases of water bottles, for example)
  • Ziploc bags (resealable plastic bags)
  • Plastic newspaper bags
  • Plastic shipping envelopes (without padding or liners)

The offer is only available to those who live within Ridwell's service zone, which covers the majority of the Denver metro area.

To sign up for the free trial, audiences will need to provide their credit card information. They can cancel at any time during the trial period and will not be charged. If they continue with the service after the trial, their credit card will be charged automatically.

The discount offer is valid for two weeks after the hard-to-recycle collection event on June 25th (expiry July 9th).


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