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zero waste DC

DC Biz Required to Recycle More Stuff Starting Jan. 1

zero waste DCCommercial properties in Washington, DC, must recycle a number of new items beginning January, 2018, as the city strives for “zero waste.”  City officials today announced a variety of new items that must be recycled, including pizza boxes, paper and plastic plates, cups, lids and to-go containers, plastic produce/deli/bakery containers, and trays. Through the addition of these items, city officials from the Department of Public Works (DPW) and other departments say they join a “select group of cities” that accept foodservice packaging for recycling, thereby supporting the development of local and national solutions to recycling new materials.

Commercial properties that will be required to recycle the additional materials include multi-family dwellings, office buildings, and restaurants that are in areas serviced by DPW. The new rules go into effect on Jan. 1. DPW says it offers “mixed” recycling with all recyclable items able to be tossed into one container.

The city is attempting to achieve a goal of diverting 80% of citywide waste from landfills and waste to energy facilities. The increased number of recyclable item aims to help the city get there. While DC’s definition of zero waste is to divert 80% of waste from landfills, most businesses seem to consider zero waste to mean a diversion rate of 90% or more. On the other hand, the generally accepted definition of zero waste adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance does not name a particular percentage of diversion that must be reached. (See below for definition.)

The new list of recyclables was developed following a survey of eight material processing facilities (MRFs) within a 45-mile radius of the District. Materials added to the list were accepted by a majority of MRFs in the region. The new list is a requirement of the Sustainable Solid Waste Management Amendment of 2014, the purpose of which is to provide a single comprehensive list of recyclable and compostable materials for DC residents, schools, and businesses.


Internationally accepted, peer-reviewed definition adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance

Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.

Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”

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