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10 Takeaways from Zero Waste & Litter 1 Year Report
Philly

10 Takeaways from Zero Waste & Litter 1 Year Report

How does a city get to Zero Waste? According to the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet, it starts with One… Year Report.

Philadelphia has an ambitious goal: to fully eliminate the use of landfills and conventional incinerators by 2035, diverting 90% of waste and using the remaining 10% for waste to energy. 

As the report shares in the intro, China has thrown a curveball to the US and the world’s exporting of our recycling. In the Spring of 2018, China released a National Sword policy, allowing only a .5% contamination threshold, requiring Philly to pay $38 per ton of recycling, vs $64/ton of trash. 

TL:DR, there’s an economic impact of the way we consume and dispose of products, and there’s a financial incentive to reduce our waste. So you’re probably wondering… 

When is Street Sweeping Starting?

(OK, we’re not there yet.) First, there’s the… 

City Litter Index

The city stresses that to solve the litter problem, they have to figure out where it’s coming from. They created a litter index to determine where there’s illegal dumping, vacant lots, and other problems before getting to problems.  What else did we learn from the report? 

10 Takeaways of Zero Waste 1 Year Progress Report

  1.  City-owned buildings are required to provide a waste audit and distribute copies to employees, have recycling bins and install signage. 

2. Zero Waste Events Expanded. In 2016, there were 3 zero waste events. In 2017, there have been 21 events including the Phila Marathon, Broad Street Run, Pizzadelphia Pizza Fest, Night Markets and more. 

3. Over 17 tons of food waste was composted during the zero waste events. That’s 34,000 pounds of food going back to the ground and repurposed.

4. We might get city-wide composting! Between piloting a few efforts like the Streets Department’s Organic Feasibility study and the Food Policy Advisory Council (FPAC) hosted a Compost System Design Competition for neighborhood-scale, more info should be released soon about how to launch such a program.  

5. 17 tons of lightbulbs were recycled in 2017.

 6. 1082 tons of material were recycled by the Philadelphia School District in 2017. The Cabinet will also create a “CleanFutures” program for school district studnets to reduce litter. 

7. There’s now a Green CSI for Philadelphia… sort of. The Cabinent created a formalized Environmental Crimes Unit within Philadelphia Police Department to investigate environmental wrongdoings, as Nic Esposito mentioned in his Radio Times interview.

8. Over 8000 illegal signs were collected by 24 community groups across the city in June 2018 during an Illegal Signs Roundup. 

signs gathered from Illegal Sign Roundup – photo: Zero Waste & Litter Report

9. Cities like New York, LA, and San Fran also created litter indexes to make data-informed decisions. (So there IS a precedent.) 

10. The city conducted behavioral experiments, complete with objectives, hypothesis, and methods. 

Want to find out the full 411? 

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Julie Hancher
Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher
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