- A worldwide group of 23 cities and regions signed a C40 pledge, Advancing Towards Zero Waste Declaration, to each cut the amount of waste generated per capita by 15%, cut the amount of waste sent to landfill and incineration by 50% and increase diversion rates by 70%, all by 2030.
- In signing this pledge, the cities and regions are promising their combined 150 million citizens will avoid disposing of 87 million tons of waste, with the group saying this is "accelerating the transition to a zero-waste future."
- The participating cities and regions are: New York City; Newburyport, MA; Philadelphia; Portland, OR; San Jose, CA; Santa Monica, CA; Washington, DC; Auckland; Catalonia, Spain; Copenhagen; Dubai; London; Milan; Montreal; Navarra, Spain; Paris; Rotterdam; San Francisco; Sydney; Tel Aviv; Tokyo; Toronto and Vancouver.
Mayors from around the world have increasingly focused in on "zero waste" initiatives, with many touting how such plans can help cut carbon emissions and make cities more livable and resilient. The World Bank notes municipal solid waste (MSW) is growing faster than the rate of urbanization, but by promoting waste diversion through recycling efforts, citywide composting initiatives or even materials bans, cities can do their part to curb this growth.
Tackling carbon emissions in all areas of city service, including waste and recycling operations, has become doubly important to municipal leaders since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord last year. That prompted the launch of the We Are Still In coalition, which introduced the “We Are Taking Action” campaign to encourage local, state and private sector leaders to take action against climate change. Other actions have included Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge, where 20 mayors will participate in a two-year program.
This waste diversion pledge also speaks to a growing trend of cities — particularly C40 cities — seeing themselves as national and international leaders, with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio saying earlier this year that local leaders are "taking matters into our own hands." Many C40 cities also recently signed the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration to ensure new buildings operate at net-zero carbon by 2030, with all buildings following suit by 2050.
As national governments retrench, C40 hopes cities can be a bastion of progressive ideas and leadership. "With this commitment, cities are getting the job done, inventing the new practices to build better cities for generations to come," Paris Mayor and C40 chair Anne Hidalgo said in a statement. "One more time, the future is taking place in cities."