Eight U.S. cities are among the 23 cities and regions across the globe that recently vowed to significantly cut the amount of waste they generate. By signing C40’s “Advancing Towards Zero Waste Declaration,” these cities and regions have pledged to cut the amount of waste generated by 15 percent for each citizen by 2030, reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and incineration by 50 percent and increase the diversion rate to 70 percent by 2030.
Signatory cities and regions include Auckland, New Zealand; Catalonia, Spain; Copenhagen, Denmark; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; London; Milan; Montreal; Navarra, Spain; New York City; Newburyport, Mass.; Paris; Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; Rotterdam, Netherlands; San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; Santa Monica, Calif.; Sydney; Tel Aviv, Israel; Tokyo; Toronto; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Washington, D.C.
The 150 million citizens that live in the 23 cities and regions are transitioning to a zero waste future and are expected to avoid the disposal of at least 87 million tons of waste by 2030. The commitments, made ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, are essential steps toward delivering on the goals of the Paris Agreement and keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
"Dramatically reducing waste will help curb carbon emissions while helping us build a fairer, cleaner and more livable city for all New Yorkers,” said Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, in a statement. “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."
The declaration is built on the following commitments: reducing the municipal solid waste generation per capita by at least 15 percent by 2030 compared to 2015; reducing the amount of municipal solid waste disposed to landfill and incineration by at least 50 percent by 2030 compared to 2015; and increasing the diversion rate away from landfill and incineration to at least 70 percent by 2030.
“With these new commitments, we are advancing D.C. values and doubling down on our efforts to build a zero waste future,” said Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington, D.C., in a statement. “By building a greener, more resilient and more sustainable D.C., we’re making good on our commitment to uphold the goals of the Paris Climate Accord and finding new ways to shrink our carbon footprint.”
Specifically, signatory cities will implement specific actions, including:
- Reduce 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 byproducts for feed production.
- Implement 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.
- Support 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.
- Increase reduction, reuse, recovery and recycling of construction and demolition materials.
- Increase accessibility, awareness, scale and inclusivity of reduction, reutilization and recycling programs and policies for all communities and neighborhoods, investing in citywide communication and engagement efforts, offering resources in multiple languages and ensuring benefits are distributed equitably across the city population. Cities will also publicly report every two years on the progress they are making toward these goals.
Leading up to the Global Climate Action Summit, C40 urged cities to step up their climate action and ambition—and this announcement is one of the city commitments under that initiative. The "Advancing Towards Zero Waste Declaration" was developed by C40 and the city of San Francisco, in consultation with other C40 cities in the waste-to-resources network.