LONDON — By signing C40’s Advancing Towards Zero Waste Declaration, 23 cities and regions committed to significantly cut the amount of waste generated by each citizen 15 percent and reduce the amount of landfill waste and that sent to incineration by 50 percent by 2030.
Through this C40 pledge developed with the city of San Francisco and other C40 cities in the Waste to Resources network, 150 million citizens that live in the 23 cities and regions will avoid the disposal of at least 87 million tons of waste as they obtain their waste reduction goals.
The commitment was made ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco as part of efforts to keep global temperature rise below 1.5℃ under the Paris Agreement.
Worldwide waste generation is increasing faster than any other environmental pollutant contributing to climate change. The 1.3 billion tons of annual food scraps in worldwide landfill waste decomposes into methane — a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, which accounts for 25 percent of current global warming.
Municipal Solid Waste Reduction Equates to 15 Percent Reduction Per Person
The Advancing Towards Zero Waste Declaration specifically addresses reducing municipal solid waste generation per capita by at least 15 percent and the amount of municipal solid waste disposed to landfill and incineration by at least 50 percent by 2030 compared to 2015, as well as increasing the diversion rate away from landfill and incineration to at least 70 percent by 2030.
The signatory cities and regions include New York City; Newburyport, Massachusetts; Philadelphia; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, San Jose,and Santa Monica, California, and Washington D.C. in the United States, along with Auckland, New Zealand; Catalonia and Navarra Spain; Copenhagen; Dubai; London; Milan; Montreal; Paris; Rotterdam; Sydney; Tel Aviv; Tokyo; Toronto and Vancouver & cities and regions.
Dramatically reducing waste will help curb carbon emissions while helping us build a fairer, cleaner and more livable city for all New Yorkers” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Continuing to pile up more and more garbage in landfills is not sustainable, which is why we’ve created the largest organics collection and reuse program in the country, serving over three million New Yorkers. We’re proud to stand alongside other leading cities worldwide in taking ambitious steps to cut down on waste.”
Landfill Waste Reduction Goals Achievable
Mayors have committed to taking ambitious and measurable actions to reduce municipal solid waste generation and improve materials management in their cities, key to making urban centers cleaner, healthier, more resilient and inclusive, according to the Global Climate Action Summit announcement. Investing in waste management also creates jobs and economic development opportunities.
Philadelphia is proud to set an ambitious but achievable goal of becoming a Zero Waste city by 2035. Meeting this goal will not only cut carbon emissions and other pollutants, but will help reduce the waste entering landfills, combat litter and enhance the cleanliness of streets and public spaces,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.
Transforming solid waste and material management systems globally could reduce global emissions by 20 percent, according to a 2012 report by the United Nations Environment Program report. Some leaders participating in the pledge feel that swift action is necessary to take on the municipal level.
Cities like Vancouver are stepping up and taking on an unprecedented role in reaching global waste reduction targets” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “As our oceans and environment continue to be polluted, we recognize the urgency of reducing waste going to landfill and are committed to transitioning to be a zero-waste city.”
The actions the 23 signatories will take include:
- Reducing food losses and wasting of food at the retail and consumer levels by decreasing losses along production and supply chains, minimizing the production of surplus food and facilitating safe food donation and by-products for feed production.
- Implementing source separated collection for food scraps and other organics and treatment infrastructure that recovers nutrients, energy and contributes to the restoration of carbon storage capacity in soils.
- Supporting the implementation of local and regional policies, such as extended producer responsibility and sustainable procurement, to reduce or ban single-use and non-recyclable plastics and other materials, while also improving goods reparability and recyclability.
- Increasing reduction, reuse, recovery and recycling of construction and demolition materials.
- Increasing accessibility, awareness, scale and inclusivity of reduction, reutilization and recycling programs and policies for all communities and neighborhoods, investing in city wide communication and engagement efforts, offering resources in multiple languages.
- Ensuring benefits are distributed equitably across the city population.
The ambitious waste reduction goals require municipal governments of all sizes to work with many others throughout their communities in order to achieve citizen, as well as partner, buy-in.
We have been working diligently with broad community partnerships to educate residents and incrementally achieve significant reductions through creative organics programs, hazardous waste and electronics recycling, banning single-use plastic bags and re-purposing excess foods in our schools,” said Newburyport Mayor Donna D. Holaday.
The cities will report to the public every two years on the progress toward these goals.
Explore resources that can help cities reduce landfill waste: