March 6, 2013
In his State of the City address, Mayor Greg Stanton reiterated his support of initiatives to improve Phoenix’s sustainability in the future. One such initiative is the creation of a solid waste sustainability program focusing on increasing the city’s waste diversion rate. The program, soon to be launched by the Phoenix Public Works Department, is called “40 by 20,” and its goal is to reach a citywide 40 percent diversion rate of waste from landfills by year 2020.
“The more we integrate sustainable practices and strategy in our everyday lives, the more we see improvement in our economies, communities and environment. Sustainable practices, such as recycling, not only protect our city’s natural assets but also spur the local economy,” said Stanton. “I encourage all Phoenix residents to do their part in reaching our 40 percent diversion rate goal."
Phoenix’s diversion rate for fiscal year 2011-2012 is 13 percent, which is below the national average. With “40 by 20,” the Public Works Department hopes to triple the city’s diversion rate through aggressive outreach, education and possible economic incentives to residents by decade’s end. Increasing the city’s current waste diversion rate goal means that the city will extend the life of its landfill assets, thus delaying future investments funded by residents.
“Forty by 20 sets the bar high and shows that we mean business when it comes to sustainability," said Vice Mayor Bill Gates, chairman of the City Council Finance, Efficiency and Economy Subcommittee. "This initiative will keep waste out of the landfill and use it to fuel local businesses and build a revenue stream for the Public Works Department that keeps resident costs down."
In addition to the initiative’s environmental and economical benefits, “40 by 20” will be a catalyst for the creation of a Center for Excellence in Solid Waste Research. The Center will be the result of collaboration with industry and academic partners that will help identify new solutions and uses for solid waste. The Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, chaired by Councilwoman Thelda Williams, recommended to City Council the approval of a partnership between the Public Works Department and Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability that will advance solid waste research and knowledge. Last week, the City Council approved the partnership.