The Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet (Cabinet) announced today two years of progress tackling trash and litter under our Zero Waste and Litter Action Plan. Progress includes supporting residential and commercial composting through the establishment of an urban composting pilot site and city-wide Community Composting Network, implementing a comprehensive illegal dumping enforcement and prevention strategy which has already contributed to reductions in the amount of heavy illegal dumping cleaned up by the City, supporting a proposed city-wide plastic bag ban, and working with C40 and local partners to develop and implement a ‘Thriving Cities Roadmap’ of consumption-reducing actions, among other accomplishments.
Since its launch in August 2017, the Cabinet has accomplished every initiative set forth in the original Zero Waste road map. This includes conducting two years of City-wide Litter Indexing and completing 71 percent of the initial litter enforcement and cleaner public spaces recommendations set forth in our Action Plan. 16 percent of these recommendations remain in progress, with 13 percent outstanding.
“Governments, businesses, and engaged residents across the world are mobilizing to create cleaner, less wasteful cities,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “We can no longer go down the path of making, taking, and then trashing. Creating a thriving, lower-waste economy is a defining challenge for societies in the 21st century, and Philadelphia is proud to be at the forefront of developing solutions.”
Selected highlights of the progress made under the Zero Waste and Litter Action Plan two year update include:
Released an RFP to Establish an Urban Composting Facility in Philadelphia
In September 2019, the City released a request for proposals (RFP) to establish an urban composting facility in Philadelphia to support residential and commercial composting. The City will be selecting a vendor to operate at the site, which will serve as a demonstration site for the first urban composting permit in the Commonwealth. A state-wide permit would allow for additional small-scale composting sites to be established city-wide as well as in other Pennsylvania municipalities. Full implementation at the site is planned for spring 2020.
Developed a Community Composting Network
To support Philadelphia residents in becoming more aware of and engaged in local composting efforts, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the Office of Sustainability, the Cabinet, and other partners established a Community Composting Network that will serve Philadelphia neighborhoods. The program, which was made possible through a grant from Comcast, will launch this winter and will establish composting systems at community sites throughout the city. This program aims to expand composting capacity throughout Philadelphia neighborhoods while engaging residents and educating them on the environmental advantages of composting.
Reduced Amount of Heavy Illegal Dumping Cleaned by the City through Enforcement and Prevention Efforts
The Cabinet has taken a holistic view in tackling the illegal dumping problem in Philadelphia by working with criminal justice partners, City departments, and City Council to tackle this issue. The Cabinet worked to increase illegal dumping fines, increase and improve surveillance, impose seizure of vehicles involved in illegal dumping crimes, streamline illegal dumping cases in the court system, and create a formalized Environmental Crimes Unit within the Philadelphia Police Department that focuses specifically on illegal dumping crimes, among other coordinated actions. These efforts helped to reduce the amount of heavy illegal dumping cleaned up by City departments city-wide from 11,525 tons in FY16 to 6,808 tons in FY19.
Supporting Legislation that Would Ban Single-use Plastic Bags in Philadelphia
In June 2019, a bill was introduced in Philadelphia City Council that would ban lightweight plastic bags and non-recycled content paper bags in the city. Philadelphians use about a billion single-use plastic bags each year, and many of these bags end up as litter. In fact, the 2018 Litter Index survey revealed that plastic bags were among the most prevalent littered items noted by surveyors on Philadelphia’s streets, vacant lots, and other public spaces. The Cabinet will continue to support this legislation and to work toward reducing the use of plastic bags and other single-use items in Philadelphia.
Participating as One of Three Global Partner Cities in the C40 Thriving Cities Initiative Pilot
As part of its work with C40, Philadelphia was chosen as one of three global cities selected to organize a local coalition of community stakeholders implementing a ‘Thriving Cities Roadmap’ of consumption-reducing actions. Philadelphia hosted its first Thriving Cities workshop in September 2019 with members of the Cabinet as well as a cross-section of other stakeholders from across City government and the private sector. This workshop focused on uncovering the systemic drivers of over-consumption and waste in the city. The Cabinet will be hosting future workshops to explore the ways Philadelphia is already addressing these drivers, discuss examples of how other cities are addressing waste and consumption, and develop a road map and implementation plan for the actions Philadelphia must take to reduce waste and consumption while creating a thriving city.