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    Nic Esposito Shares the Roadmap to a Zero Waste Philadelphia by 2035

    It’s no secret Philly has had a dirty reputation. If you start googling “Why is Philly…”, here’s what automatically comes up:Why is Philly so dirty?

    But we’ve made a lot of progress since Greenworks began in 2008. And have more in store.

    Philadelphia has big goals for the future.

    The city recently joined New York City, Los Angeles, and other major cities around the US and the world in declaring a Zero Waste Goal of diverting 90% of the city’s waste out of landfills by 2035.

    In order to achieve any goal, one needs a plan of action. That’s why this December Mayor Jim Kenney signed an executive order that created the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet to develop a comprehensive plan to achieve the Zero Waste Goal by 2035. In order to find out more about how the city is going to get there, we sat down with Nic Esposito.

    Nic Esposito, Zero Waste and Litter Director, stressed the importance of diverting from the archaic practice of using landfills to manage waste – that use of land is simply not sustainable. “We’re moving away from that but how does that look, what’s the future going to hold? So really this is a roadmap for that future,” Esposito said.

    According to the executive order, the cabinet has six months to develop a “data-driven, comprehensive, and coordinated action plan” to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills or in city streets as litter. The team is made up of 16 members from city departments, independent businesses, non-profit organizations, and community members. The goal is that by bringing together all these groups will go a long way toward connecting and coordinating efforts already underway in Philadelphia.

    How Zero Waste Takes All of Us

    Esposito describes the job as a “community-organizing gig,” because people are already doing a lot of good work in the city but organizing and coordinating with each other can amplify these efforts even more.

    Waste management is a complex matter and the plan the cabinet is coming up with must address the various pieces of the problem while working toward a solution that engages community members, businesses, and city government in working together to keep Philadelphia clean. Esposito explains he is up for the challenge, “It’s a very multifaceted front, but I’m excited about that because it makes us all work together.” And much of the plan does revolve around people working together and coordinating efforts to clean up the city that so many call their home.

    Diverting waste through recycling is a big priority for the cabinet and it is a solution that will need both the government and the public to be involved. “What we’re really putting forth is a meeting at the half way,” Esposito explained. On the city side of things, the cabinet is working to improve infrastructure and city systems to give people the resources and services that they need and deserve in order to keep the city clean.

    A zero waste future for Philadelphia is one in which everyone has a part to play. Along with improved recycling infrastructure, engaging the community in waste reduction and being smarter about their waste is a key part of achieving the zero waste goal. As Esposito shared, “People are going to have to have more of an understanding of [the waste system] while at the same time we’re making it convenient and accessible, and understandable.”

    Status Report: Two Months In

    Having such a comprehensive plan ready for the Mayor’s desk by July 1, 2017 may seem like a daunting task, but Esposito is encouraged by their progress in the two months the cabinet has worked together. He says he’s been “blown away (because) so many people are working so collaboratively on this.” He explains that people on the cabinet and those from the public are really excited about the project and the fact that something is being done about litter.

    A cleaner, more livable Philadelphia is something everyone can agree on.

    Marie Bouffard

    About Marie Bouffard

    Marie is a senior at Villanova University studying communication and sustainability. She lives for hiking, camping, skiing, and any outdoor activity. Marie is a coffee addict, loves reading, and has never met a cat or dog she didn't like.

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