The Zero Waste Committee is dedicated to achieving zero waste in Washington, D.C.
Why Zero Waste in DC?
Zero waste is a waste management approach that benefits people and the environment by reducing toxicity, conserving resources, and facilitating community economic development. The goal of zero waste is to conserve and recover all resources and not burn or bury them.
DC is far from achieving zero waste. Despite D.C.'s Recycling Law, which requires all commercial properties and office buildings to recycle, and the Healthy Schools Act, which requires all schools to recycle, the majority of the 900,000 tons of waste generated by DC ends up in a landfill or an incinerator.
Campaigns and Projects
Implementing Waste Management Laws
In 2014, the DC Council passed legislation that seeks to reform waste management practices in DC. The Zero Waste Committee is working to ensure that these waste management laws will be implemented to bring DC closer to diverting all waste from landfills and incinerators.
- Sustainable DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2014 [Styrofoam ban]
- Sustainable Solid Waste Management Amendment Act of 2014 [Waste Management Hierarchy; Interagency working group to develop 80% waste diversion plan; City-wide composting, E-waste Extended Producer Responsibility]
Supporting Composting Efforts at UDC
One obstacle to implementing a District-wide composting program is the lack of facilities to process the organic material from yards, homes, restaurants, and institutions. The Zero Waste Committee is working to support the composting efforts of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) at the Muirkirk Farm in Maryland and UDC's Food Node program. This program restores the natural cycle of healthy food growing, local consumption, and organic composting to support food growing.
Diverting Construction and Demolition Waste
Currently, a large amount of waste – about 40% of DC’s commercial waste – is produced at construction and demolition sites in DC. The majority of this waste is landfilled or incinerated at the expense of the environment and human health. The Zero Waste Committee is advocating for a policy that would create incentives and/or rules to divert a significant amount of construction waste for reuse or recycling.
Fighting Incineration of DC’s Waste
Incineration is the most expensive and polluting way to manage waste or to make energy. It competes with recycling and composting for the same dollars and materials. These zero waste solutions produce many more jobs, save energy and materials, and reduce pollution. The Zero Waste Committee is fighting to reduce the District's reliance on incineration for waste management, especially since our waste is being burned in communities of color.
To get involved or to join the Zero Waste Committee please contact the committee chair on the contacts page.