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London signs zero waste pledge

London is among 23 cities and regions around the world that have committed to cutting the amount of waste they generate significantly by signing up to a zero waste declaration.

The cities and regions have pledged to cut waste generated by each citizen by 15%, reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and incineration by 50% and increase the diversion rate away from landfill and incineration to 70% by 2030, by signing C40’s Advancing Towards Zero Waste Declaration.

Other signatories include Auckland, Catalonia, Copenhagen, Dubai, Milan, Montreal, Navarra, New York City, Newburyport, Paris, Philadelphia, Portland, Rotterdam, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington DC.

C40, a global network of cities committed to addressing climate change, said the move would result in avoiding at least 87 million tonnes of waste being created by 2030.

The organisation said that the commitment, made ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco next month, was an essential step in delivering the goals of the Paris Agreement and keeping the rise in global temperature to below 1.5℃.

Specific action to be carried out includes:

  • Decreasing food waste along production and supply chains, minimising the production of surplus food, and facilitating safe food donation and by-products for feed production.
  • Source-separated collection of food scraps and other organics, and treatment infrastructure that recovers nutrients, energy and contributes to the restoration of carbon storage capacity in soils.
  • Support policies such as extended producer responsibility and sustainable procurement, to reduce or ban single-use and non-recyclable plastics and other materials, and improve reparability and recyclability of products.
  • Increase reduction, reuse, recovery and recycling of construction and demolition materials.
  • Increase awareness, scale and inclusivity of waste and recycling programmes and policies for all communities, and ensure benefits are distributed equally across the population.
  • Publicly report every two years on progress.

London mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured, left, with Shirley Rodrigues, deputy mayor for environment and energy), said: “Earlier this year my Environment Strategy set out bold and ambitious targets for cutting waste in London. That means no biodegradable or recyclable waste sent to landfill by 2026, and cutting food waste and associated packaging by 50% per head by 2030.

”It also means working hard to reduce single-use plastic bottles and packaging which can end up overflowing our landfills and finding their way into our oceans. Cities around the world must work together if we are going to make real progress in cutting waste.”

C40 said that worldwide waste generation was increasing faster than any other environmental pollutant, meaning that action in this sector could have a much faster and greater impact in combating climate change. Better waste management could also create jobs and economic opportunities, it added.

“To deliver on the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement requires urgent transformations of every aspect of modern life, including our consideration about what we throw away,” said Paris mayor and C40 chair Anne Hidalgo. “With this commitment, cities are getting the job done, inventing the new practices to build better cities for generations to come. One more time, the future is taking place in cities.”


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