Store

23 cities commit to a zero-waste future, setting ambitious targets for 2030

On the path toward zero waste, 23 pioneering cities and regions committed to significantly cut the amount of waste they generate, to accelerare the transition to a more sustainable future.

On 28 August 2018, 23 pioneering cities and regions committed to significantly cut the amount of waste they generate, accelerating them on the path toward zero waste. By signing C40’s Advancing towards zero waste declaration, these cities and regions have pledged to cut the amount of waste generated by each citizen by 15 per cent by 2030, reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and incineration by 50 per cent and increase the diversion rate to 70 per cent by 2030 compared to 2015 levels.

Signatory cities and regions include Milan, Auckland, Catalonia, Copenhagen, Dubai, London, Montreal, Navarra, New York City, Newburyport, Paris, Philadelphia, Portland, Rotterdam, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington DC.

23 pioneering cities and regions committed to significantly cut the amount of waste they generate, accelerating them on the path toward zero waste

Toward a zero-waste future

The 150 million citizens that live in the 23 cities and regions are accelerating the transition to a zero-waste future and will avoid the disposal of at least 87 million tonnes of waste by 2030. Such bold commitments, made ahead of the Global climate action summit in San Francisco, are essential steps in delivering on the highest goals of the Paris Agreement and keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees.

The sustainable and liveable city of the future is also a city that moves towards zero-waste Frank Jensen, Mayor of Copenhagen

“Waste management is key for cities to rapidly lower their emissions”, said Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala. “Milan has reached an ambitious 60 per cent of successful waste recycling through the active engagement of citizens and visitors and a strong focus on preventing food waste. It is a natural further step for Milan to join forces with other C40 cities in committing to a zero-waste future for a healthier environment”.

Cities have pledged to cut the amount of waste generated by each citizen by 15 per cent by 2030
Cities have pledged to cut the amount of waste generated by each citizen by 15 per cent by 2030 © Pexels

Waste and climate change

Worldwide waste generation is increasing faster than any other environmental pollutant, and action in this sector can have a much faster and greater impact in combating climate change. For instance, the 1.3 billion tonnes of annual worldwide food scraps sent to landfills each year decomposes into methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 and already accounts for 25 per cent of current global warming. Transforming solid waste and material management systems globally could reduce global emissions by 20 per cent.

To deliver on the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement requires urgent transformations of every aspect of modern life, including our consideration about what we throw awayAnne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris

That is why mayors of the world’s urban centres are accelerating the transition towards a zero-waste future. Mayors have committed to taking ambitious, measurable and inclusive actions to reduce municipal solid waste generation and improve materials management in their cities, both key to making our urban centres cleaner, healthier, more resilient and inclusive. Better waste management can also create jobs and economic opportunities for social entrepreneurs and vulnerable communities.

Tokyo wishes to have every citizen become even more aware of “mottainai”, which means it’s too precious to waste, and change their behaviorYuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo
Bulk Market in London, UK © Ottavia Zanetta

Cities’ paths toward a zero-waste future

Specifically, signatory cities will implement bold 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 by-products 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 programmes and policies for all communities and neighbourhoods, investing in city wide communication and engagement efforts, offering resources in multiple languages
  • Ensure benefits are distributed equitably across the city population.
  • Publicly report every two years on the progress the cities are making towards these goals.

Leading up to the Global Climate Action Summit, C40 urged cities to step up their climate action and ambition – the announcement is one of the city commitments under that initiative. The high ambition 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.

Related articles