District citizens, wildlife, and environmental advocates had a good day this month when the District of Columbia Council successfully passed, and sent to District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray for signature, both the “Sustainable DC Omnibus Act of 2013” and the “Sustainable Solid Waste Management Amendment Act of 2014.” These important bills had provisions to help the District keep garbage—including Styrofoam—out of local rivers, and to move DC towards becoming a zero waste* and more environmentally friendly city.
Highlights of the two bills:
Major Zero Waste Provisions of the “Sustainable DC Omnibus Act of 2013”:
- Calls for a ban of the use of Styrofoam for food service businesses in the DC by January 1, 2016.
- Requires food service businesses in DC to only use compostable or recyclable food service ware by January 1, 2017.
Major Zero Waste Provisions of the “Sustainable Solid Waste Management Amendment Act of 2014”(partial):
- Requires DC to develop a zero waste plan that lays out the programs necessary to achieve Mayor Gray’s “Sustainable DC” plan goal of 80% waste diversion, including a Pay as You Throw (PAYT) system that can help increase the District’s waste diversion rate.
- Prioritizes reuse and recycling over landfilling and incineration.
- Requires separation of waste into recyclables, compostables, and trash.
What made this first step in the legislative process particularly meaningful is that the District of Columbia Council—much like Seattle, San Francisco, and other cities—did not back down when high paid corporate lobbyists from the American Chemistry Council, DART Container Corporation and other large corporate interests, lobbied aggressively against these provisions.
Global Green USA and partner the DC Environmental Network (DCEN) both played a pivotal role in making this important policy change happen. DCEN also enlisted the assistance of many DC-based organizations including the Anacostia Riverkeeper, Anacostia Watershed Society, Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Action, DC Statehood Green Party, Earthjustice, Energy Justice Network, Foundation Earth, Global Bees, Green Cross International, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Potomac Riverkeeper, SCI/Community Forklift and Sierra Club DC Chapter.
Achieving zero waste in our nation’s capital city is a major priority for Global Green and DCEN, and we will be pushing to make sure the District moves towards achieving the already established 80% waste diversion goal.
*What's Zero Waste?
“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.”
For more information, please contact Chris Weiss at [email protected].