TLDR: The Zero Waste and Litter Plan

Haven’t had a moment to sit down with the Zero Waste and Litter Plan Yet? Here are a few important takeaways.

Waste and litter negatively impact the beauty and cleanliness of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and sending waste to landfills creates emissions that contribute to climate change. Each year Philadelphia disposes of nearly 1.5 million tons of residential and commercial waste. Much of what is typically thrown away as trash can be recovered and put to better use through reuse, donation, recycling, and composting.

That’s why the City set a goal of Zero Waste by 2035. In order to reach this goal, a cabinet of experts was formed to work on all of the issues surrounding waste and litter in our City. The first result? A new plan to strategize how we can achieve this. The Zero Waste and Litter Plan describes a set of actions to help Philadelphia reach Zero Waste in just 18 years.

What does Zero Waste mean?

Zero Waste may sound self-explanatory, but it’s not that simple. Philadelphia’s long-term “Zero Waste” goal is get rid of the use of landfills and conventional incinerators by 2035. To do this, Philadelphia will reduce waste generation and increase waste diversion by 90 percent by 2035 with the remaining 10 percent utilized as waste to energy.

How are we going to get there?

We’ve highlighted just a few of the strategies set out in the plan. There are many more actions laid out around issues of litter enforcement, behavior change, data, and engagement, but to get the bigger picture, read the Zero Waste plan in its entirety.

Building Waste Audit Program

A new reporting process to identify City-owned buildings’ waste and collection service providers. The program will help us track progress toward Zero Waste. There will be options for annual and monthly reporting.

Zero Waste Events Program

This program isn’t necessarily new, but reaffirms Zero Waste goals, plans, and resources 
for all public events requiring a permit in Philadelphia. It sets the standard for events like the Philadelphia Marathon, and gives vendors access to compost pickups and recycling.

Zero Waste Partnership Program

This program will encourage Philadelphia residents, community groups, non-profit organizations, municipal government, businesses, and institutions to reduce waste, increase recycling and composting, and adopt waste diversion practices — and recognize them for their efforts. Through revamping the Recycling Rewards program and creating incentives for small businesses, Zero Waste partners will see more benefits to recycling.

Getting to Zero Waste won’t be easy, but it’s an important part of maintaining a healthy, clean, and livable city. Reaching the Zero Waste goals will move Philadelphia toward achieving the Greenworks vision of becoming a sustainable city for all. If you’re interested in helping us achieve this work, follow our Greenworks on the Ground guides. For all the ways we can make Philly cleaner, together, visit Remember, Zero starts with One!

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