The city has a long standing commitment to diverting materials from the waste stream and using cleaner and more green materials. The city's Pollution Prevention (P2) and Recycling programs began in the 1990s. Both programs are designed to reduce waste, conserve natural resources, and lessen Phoenix's impact on the environment. In 2007, mayor and council expanded the recycling program to address plastic bags, and passed a resolution reaffirming the city's commitment to purchasing more environmentally preferable or "green" products.
Pollution Prevention (P2) Program
The Office of Environmental Programs Pollution Prevention (P2) Program was created in 1994 to reduce or eliminate wastes generated from city operations and enhance environmental compliance. Key program elements and accomplishments are listed below.
- Outreach - An extensive outreach program including P2 Week, a bimonthly newsletter, monthly poster program, and incentive awards provides city employees with information on chemical management and best practices.
- P2 University - This training program offers seven pollution prevention topics including Environmentally Preferably Purchasing. From 2002 to 2007, approximately 3,500 employees have been trained. In addition, online training plans identify appropriate P2 training courses for city job classifications with a role in hazardous materials management.
- Facility Assessments - P2 staff visit city-owned facilities to ensure environmental compliance, identify P2 opportunities, share information on best practices, and determine any capital needs. Since 1999, the P2 Program has coordinated nearly $1,000,000 in improvements, such as weatherproofed hazardous materials storage areas.
- Waste Minimization - Product substitution and process changes, such as recycling of batteries, has resulted in less hazardous waste being generated and fewer facilities that are subject to regulation. Phoenix has achieved a 60 percent reduction in the number of its hazardous waste-regulated city facilities since 2001.
- Environmental Data Management System - The city developed an innovative chemical tracking database that includes safety information on over 10,000 chemical products purchased by city departments. P2 staff review all new products and rate each one based on their relative risk. A Reviewed Products List features the safest products to help expand their use. As a result, the percentage of environmentally preferred products has grown from 12 percent in 2001 to 29 percent in 2007.
- Toxic Reduction - Product substitutions, such as the examples listed below, have helped the city achieve its goal of reducing hazardous materials:
- The use of ionized water engine coolant on the transit bus fleet has eliminated the use and disposal of engine coolant chemicals.
- Water-based parts cleaners are used in several city departments, eliminating volatile organic compounds and hazardous waste generation.
- High copper-content bullets have been substituted for lead bullets in Police indoor ranges to reduce lead waste, provide a recycling opportunity, and reduce the cost of waste disposal.
- Use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) reduces pesticides by integrating occupant training, building improvements, and applying chemicals only when necessary. In 2005, the city began transitioning its contracts from traditional pest services to IPM.
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program
The EPP Program identifies products and services that minimize environmental impacts. Resolution 20519, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, approved by city council on July 12, 2007, was the latest resolution to reaffirm the city's commitment to EPP. Key elements of the program include department EPP Liaisons and product evaluation teams to further enhance the purchase of EPP. Examples of EPP are listed below:
- Hope VI Project - The HOPE VI Project uses recycled wood products from rapidly renewable local forests and 100 percent recycled carpet pads.
- Phoenix Convention Center - The Phoenix Convention Center has incorporated certified wood products that encourage responsible forest management practices, and adhesives, sealants, carpeting and paint with low emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Additionally, by using construction materials from within a 500-mile radius, crews reduced fuel usage and support growth in the local economy.
- Contracts - Upcoming city contracts are reviewed to include EPP requirements such as Energy Star products, recycled content, general hazardous material characteristics, safer janitorial products, and pesticides.
- Energy Efficient Computers - The Information Technology and Finance Departments helped purchase desktop computers, laptops and monitors which meet Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Silver certification environmental standards. In 2007, the city was awarded an EPA Green Electronics Champion Award for these computer purchases, which from July 2006 to December 2007, reduced energy use by 3,744,969 kWh (enough electricity to power 330 households annually); reduced greenhouse gases equivalent to removing 233 cars from the road per year; reduced 12.7 tons of hazardous waste; avoided 769 pounds of toxic materials; and saved $324,491.
Phoenix Recycles, Film Plastic Bag, Household Hazardous Waste and Greenwaste Programs
For over two decades, Phoenix has been committed to diverting materials from the waste stream through the Public Works Department programs featured below:
- Phoenix Recycles - The city's primary solid waste diversion program, was created as a pilot program in 1989. Today, approximately 90 percent of eligible residents participate in this voluntary program, diverting over 127,000 tons of newspaper, mixed paper, aluminum, scrap metal, glass, plastics and cardboard into blue 90-gallon containers every year. The materials are sorted at the city's Materials Recovery Facilities before they are sold in their respective commodity markets. Phoenix Recycles has been recognized as one of the first commingled (where residents do not have to separate items by commodity) residential recycling programs in the nation. Phoenix Recycles also includes recycling promotion/education components, including presentations at schools, community events, mass media announcements, PHX11 announcements, and the Valleywide Recycling Partnership (made up of local municipalities).
- Film Plastic Bag Recycling - Phoenix residents annually consume an estimated 300 million film-plastic shopping bags, which are a major litter source and cannot be processed through Phoenix's residential recycling program. In 2007, the city of Phoenix partnered with the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance, the Arizona Retailers Association, and the carry-out restaurant industry on a voluntary in-store plastic bag recycling program and the "Bag Central Station - Where Plastic Bags Belong" campaign. The partnership uses education and marketing to promote the program and overall recycling message throughout the community, schools and neighborhood associations. The city also provides plastic bag recycling options for Phoenix residents through drop off sites at the city's two transfer station/recycling centers and monthly household hazardous waste collection events. The city has also designed and distributed reusable cloth bags for residents to encourage alternatives to plastic bags.
- Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Program - Phoenix City Council established its HHW Program In 1988. The program allows residents to bring batteries, oil, paints, antifreeze, tires, appliances, electronics, and computers to a city organized collection event. As of fiscal year 2005-06, ten HHW collection events are held annually at various locations in the city. In fiscal year 2006-07, over 99,669 gallons of household hazardous waste, 1,929 batteries, 613 white goods, 637 fire extinguishers, 5,160 electronics and 3,631 tires were collected.
- Mulching/Greenwaste Program - Public Works continues to support a contract mulching program to divert organic material from entering the waste stream. Green waste is collected from residents and small commercial customers, converted to mulch, then composted at a contractor's site. Since 2003, over 100,000 tons of yard waste material has been mulched. Old and/or damaged residential refuse containers are also recycled into backyard composting kits and yard carts for sale at the 27th Avenue and North Gateway Transfer Stations.
Recycling: Parks and Recreation Department
In 2008, the city purchased 75 water bottle recycling containers made from recycled milk jugs with funding from an Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Waste Reduction Assistance recycling grant. The containers are being installed at trail heads in the Mountain Preserves for hikers to recycle plastic water bottles. The collected water bottles are processed into flakes for use in products such as clothing, pillows and carpets. During the first six weeks, with fewer than half of the containers installed, hikers filled containers with approximately 20,000 water bottles. The same grant also funded purchase of other recycling containers and a truck to provide recycling collection at special events.
Recycling: Convention Center
The Convention Center works with clients to maximize recycling opportunities, including the collection of paper, plastic, cardboard and glass materials in receptacles throughout the facility. Daily operations use biodegradable, recycled and environmentally friendly materials. The expansion project included an innovative Construction Waste Management program to reduce waste items and support the facility's aggressive recycling efforts. Sand and stone material excavated from the construction site of the North Building was sent to a concrete processing firm, and will be used to make new concrete and asphalt paving materials. The North building construction process used over 18,000 tons of recycled steel and 6,000 tons of recycled rebar.
Recycling: Aviation Department
The Aviation Department works with Public Works and private vendors to recycle office, airline and passenger waste. They also offer an "Annual Airport Cleanup Day" for Sky Harbor tenants to recycle non-hazardous metal, plastic, wood and other non-hazardous materials free of charge at airport collection points. For general aviation airport users, the department collects used oil and other fluids, promoting correct handling and recycling of these substances.
Tire Recycling: Rubberized Asphalt
In 1964, the city of Phoenix pioneered the use of rubberized asphalt overlay and incorporated the product into the city's chip seal resurfacing program. In 1989, the resurfacing program shifted to rubberized asphalt overlay. Since that time, the program has completed 1,700 miles of road overlay, used 2.3 million tons of rubberized asphalt, and an estimated 7.9 million recycled tires.
Lead Hazard Control Program
This program helps homeowners, landlords, and tenants in targeted areas control hazards from lead in paint, soil and dust. The program assists low-to-moderate income families with children under age six. Educational information on prevention of childhood lead poisoning and safe maintenance of lead-based paint is also provided to residents. Since 1996, the Lead Hazard Control Program has made over 900 homes lead-safe for the children who live there. All Neighborhood Services Department housing rehabilitation projects (about 700 in fiscal year 2005-06) comply with the federal Lead-Safe Housing Rule.
Neighborhood Services Department (NSD) staff organize and facilitate neighborhood clean-ups and assist residents in identifying hazardous materials and reporting of illegal dumping.