USA: National League of Cities Recommends Circular Economy

To improve municipal waste management practices, boost local green jobs and help address climate change, the National League of Cities (NLC) – in partnership with the American coffee company Starbucks – has released the new action guide “Recycling Reimagined”.

According to the organization, the guide provides cities with the tools they need to establish a circular economic framework for recycling and recommendations for how to achieve zero waste. As stated, Americans generate more waste than any other country in the world. However, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “suggests that as much as 75 percent of all waste is recyclable and compostable, even though over half of that material ends up in landfills”.

NLC is convinced that the “circular economy” model aims to keep resources within a closed loop of reuse, regeneration and recycling. “A circular economy closes the loop by connecting the two ends of the linear cycle – using waste as a feedstock for production and limiting actual disposal. It ultimately aims to achieve zero waste by prioritizing the highest and best use of materials and resources, the organization underlined. A 75 percent diversion rate by 2030 could produce 1.1 million new jobs and reduce carbon dioxide by 276 million tons, as well as save billions of dollars.

“Recycling Reimagined” offers case studies from cities and includes recommendations and data for city leaders looking to build sustainable waste management systems in their communities. Recommendations for achieving zero waste include:
■ Performing waste characterization studies
■ Doing continuous outreach and marketing
■ Prioritizing the best use of materials and resources
■ Considering instituting standardized recycling and composting programs
■ Using city procurement to boost sustainable products and end markets
■ Building partnerships and regional support
■ Finding innovative funding models
■ Investing in infrastructure and improved technology
■ Piloting programs


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