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Washington, D.C., Releases Solid Waste Diversion Progress Report

The report includes fiscal year 2015 solid waste data and diversion rates, fiscal years 2015 and 2016 accomplishments, and fiscal year 2017 planned initiatives.

The Washington, D.C., Department of Public Works (DPW) released the District’s first-ever Fiscal Year (fiscal year) 2015-2016 Solid Waste Diversion Progress Report.

The report provides an overview of the District’s waste diversion programs and initiatives. It also provides waste generation and diversion rate data to assist District stakeholders in working together to achieve its waste diversion goals.

The report includes fiscal year 2015 solid waste data and diversion rates, fiscal years 2015 and 2016 accomplishments, and fiscal year 2017 planned initiatives. The department pointed to the growth of DC Public School cafeteria composting programs and the Department of Parks and Recreation’s community composting programs as big successes.

During the 2014-2015 school year, 52 DCPS schools were recognized on the DCPS Recycles! Honor Roll for establishing paper recycling programs and twenty-three were recognized “with distinction” for successfully rolling out organics recycling in their kitchens and cafeterias. In school year 2015-2016 the organics recycling program was successfully expanded to 39 schools.

Other key achievements the agency highlighted include the creation of DPW’s Office of Waste Diversion and the District’s Interagency Waste Reduction Working Group. Both entities are charged with implementing the requirements of the Sustainable Solid Waste Management Amendment Act of 2014, which mandates the creation of waste diversion policies and programs. These initiatives are designed to support the District in achieving 80 percent waste diversion through source reduction, reuse, recycling, composting, and anaerobic digestion.

In this first year of the Smarter DC Challenge, 15 participating organizations, and 58 managed properties, from both the public and private sectors, reported progress with workplace waste reduction, reuse and recycling initiatives.

The report notes that the District’s fiscal year 2015 residential recycling diversion rate is 28.46 percent—more than a seven percentage point increase compared to fiscal year 2010. It also introduces a new residential diversion rate (20.93 percent) and a citywide residential diversion rate (20.96 percent), which will be incorporated into future annual waste diversion reports.

The residential diversion rate reports on the diversion rate for residential waste collection managed by DPW while the citywide residential diversion rate includes all residential waste collected by DPW as well as waste collected by programs for residents offered by sister agencies and private haulers.

“My hope is that this information will be used by residents, the Executive Office of the Mayor, and the City Council to support productive collaboration and well-informed decisions in the pursuit of greater resource conservation and higher standards of sustainability,” DPW Director Christopher Shorter said in a statement.

“The first of its kind, the District’s solid waste diversion report reflects increased transparency and reflects movement by the District towards creating a more defensible citywide residential diversion rate and corresponding per capita waste generation baseline,” Chris Weiss, executive director of the DC Environmental Network, said in a statement.

“Collecting and understanding this data is critical to the development of new policies and programs that will help make the District a true zero-waste city,” said Weiss. “Mayor Bowser and DPW Director Shorter should be commended for their stakeholder engagement and willingness to do what is necessary to move the District’s waste management system into the 21st century.”

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