Zero Waste Partnership Program

Together, we have the chance to make Philadelphia a Zero Waste city by 2035. Zero Waste starts with one person, one community, and one city coming together for a Zero Waste and litter-free future. Whether you’re a Philadelphia resident, City agency, nonprofit, business, or institution, you can take actions to reduce your waste and play a part in advancing Philadelphia toward its Zero Waste goal. Read on to learn about how you can get involved and inspire others to help, too!

The Zero Waste Partnership Program is a new way for the City to collaborate with local businesses and organizations on achieving Zero Waste in Philadelphia. Partners take the extra step to report on their Zero Waste practices, including several Zero Waste Action Items and monthly waste diversion rates. Not only does this program encourage Zero Waste practices throughout the city, but it encourages knowledge sharing between the City and Zero Waste Partners: the Partnership will give the City access to additional waste diversion data and give Partners the opportunity to share their best practices with the City and influence future goals. Plus, Partners will earn special incentives for implementing Zero Waste practices, such as eligibility for the Sustainable Business Tax Credit, and exclusive marketing tools from the City. Visit the official Zero Waste Partnership Program website to learn more.

Join the City’s Zero Waste Movement

Track Your Property’s Waste Generation

Share Best Practices

Earn Special Incentives

Get Recognized for your Efforts

How to Join the Partnership

Businesses, institutions, nonprofits, and community organizations are eligible to participate.

Commercial properties should use the Commercial Waste Report portal to submit their monthly Partnership reporting forms. The building operator or property manager that arranges for waste collection and removal services is responsible for completing the Commercial Waste Report for their building annually, and must do so prior to completing the Zero Waste Partnership form. If you are not responsible for completing the Commercial Waste Report for your property, you can still become a Partner! Just continue directly to the Zero Waste Partnership form in the portal.

Zero Waste Partners can achieve various tiers of Partnership based on: (1) the number of Zero Waste Actions achieved, and (2) their waste diversion rate. Partners are required to report on these criteria each month. Any property that submits a Zero Waste Partnership form, monthly, and checks of Zero Waste Action #1 can become a Partner! Achieving 7 out of 10 Zero Waste Actions and a 70% waste diversion rate qualifies a Partner for Silver Status; 9 out of 10 Actions and a 90% waste diversion rate earns Gold Status.

Zero Waste Actions

To kick off this program, the City has selected 10 Action Items that can qualify your property for various tiers of Partnership. Action 1 is required for Partnership. However, you can select any combination of actions to increase your Partnership tier. Click an Action Item in the list below to expand and learn more.

Action 1 (required for partnership): Implement the actions and initiatives required by the City’s waste and recycling ordinances

1. Have a recycling contract in place
2. Educate employees about recycling on a regular/recurring basis
3. Post signage to help patrons and employees properly utilize recycling/composting/waste services
4. Offer source-separated recycling for employees and patrons
5. Follow the City’s “no organics in dumpster” regulation

The City’s waste and recycling ordinances require that commercial properties implement certain practices. To fulfill this action, your property must follow the ordinance requirements listed above; each of these items is required by law, and should already be in place at your business. For example, the City regulates against disposing of grindable food waste in licensed commercial dumpsters; food establishments should be equipped with garbage disposals to process food waste, or have a contract with a compost collection service as an alternative.

Action 2: Perform a comprehensive waste audit

Performing a comprehensive waste audit – tracking and documenting how much and what type of waste you’re generating – is a necessary component of achieving a higher waste diversion rate. Conducting a waste audit will better inform your Zero Waste goals, shedding light on what solutions are working for your building and where there’s room for improvement. Achieving a higher diversion rate saves money on waste collection services, reduces environmental impact, and elevates your business or organization to a higher tier of Partnership.

Action 3: Implement a composting program

Composting is an easy way to recycle your organic waste – including food scraps and yard waste – and keep it out of the landfill. Commercial food services are already required to keep food scraps out of the dumpster, and composting provides a disposal alternative that benefits other local organizations. Refer to the Commercial Waste Report Guide for some tips on starting a composting program, and a directory of local composting services. Whether you’re a restaurant facing large amounts of food waste every day, or an office that collects some food scraps at lunch time, composting on any scale is a great way to improve your building’s waste diversion rate.

Action 4: Donate excess food, stock, and/or supplies to special materials collection services, or, host special materials collections events

To check-off this action, your property can incorporate one or several Zero Waste initiatives. Your workplace can host a special materials recycling drive, collecting anything from e-waste to clothing. If your workplace serves as a special materials recycling drop-off location on a regular basis, you have also fulfilled this action. Alternatively, you may choose to donate excess packaged or prepared food, stock, and/or supplies to local organizations on a regular basis.

Action 5: Use or promote the use of recyclable, compostable, and durable materials

Choose to reduce waste from the materials that are commonly used at your place of business, whether they be office supplies, packaging, or service ware. Phase-out single-use materials that are bound for the landfill, and encourage reuse and waste diversion. Encourage your team members and patrons to bring their own reusable cup or bottle, and stop providing paper coffee cups in the break room. Or, make the switch to compostable take out containers and paper bags instead of polystyrene products and plastic bags.

Action 6: Implement a sustainable product purchasing program

Implement a sustainable purchasing program that works for your business model. The U.S. EPA has compiled a directory of some of the leading sources of sustainable purchasing guidance, including summary profiles that will help you choose the best framework for your property. Sustainable purchasing allows you to incorporate Zero Waste up and down your supply chain and further integrate your goals with your business model. Besides impacting your waste diversion rate, a sustainable purchasing program can help your business or organization to better understand its spending and develop more responsible buying practices.

Action 7: Communicate electronically – instead of on paper – whenever possible

Think before you print! At your next meeting, project the agenda on a screen or email a copy in advance, rather than printing copies for everyone. Display your menu in large-print or on screens above the counter, or laminate individual copies for long-term use. Set up online payments for tenants or clients. And of course, if you must print, reuse, or recycle the paper when you’re done! Make the paperless switch whenever possible to fulfill this action and elevate your partnership status.

Action 8: Purchase or obtain gently used workplace furniture or other reclaimed materials for your workplace

Redecorating? Look for second-hand furniture, fixtures, and other materials before you buy new. You’ll avoid a pileup of foam peanuts, cardboard, and plastic wrap, and divert gently used products from entering the landfill (and probably save a little cash!). Similarly, you can donate old furniture and fixtures or hold a company garage sale instead of sending unneeded, but still usable, products to the trash.

Action 9: Incorporate Zero Waste education into new team member orientation and incentivize participation in achieving Zero Waste goals

When bringing in new team members, make sure they’re prepared to commit to your in-house Zero Waste program. Incorporate Zero Waste into training documents and modules so that Zero Waste habits become second nature in the workplace. To encourage participation from your team and patrons long term, implement incentives that align with your goals. For example, vote for a Zero Waste Leader of the Month in your office, or order-in lunch when your workplace hits a major Zero Waste target (just make sure to limit your lunch waste while you’re at it!) You can also incentivize patrons to adopt Zero Waste habits; for example, offer a discount when patrons bring their own reusable bag, or fill up their reusable cup for the price of a small-sized drink.

Action 10: Adopt an in-house Zero Waste Goal and nominate a Zero Waste Program Coordinator

Adopting a Zero Waste goal for your property is an important step towards achieving a higher waste diversion rate. An in-house goal – whether you’re striving for a 90% diversion rate or to encourage your team to nix disposable coffee cups – allows you to define the actions and attitudes impacting waste generation in your workplace. It also creates a more realistic image of what Zero Waste means, making the program more accessible to everyone in the office. A Zero Waste Program Coordinator is best suited to tracking progress towards achieving your goal, can provide Zero Waste education throughout the workplace, and encourages teamwork.

Current Zero Waste Partners

Zero Waste Partners

Zero Waste Silver Partners

Zero Waste Gold Partners

None to date.

Find Zero Waste Partners in your community by looking for the three official Zero Waste Partner seals!

Interact with 311 online