DC Council Passes Legislation Moving DC toward Zero Waste
The Sierra Club DC Chapter’s Zero Waste Committee applauds the DC Council for passing two key pieces of legislation on July 14, 2014 that will move DC toward zero waste!
Approximately 25% of all litter collected in the Anacostia’s Nash Run trap is composed of expanded polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam. With the passage of the Sustainable DC Omnibus Act of 2013, DC has banned the use of Styrofoam for food service businesses, mandating that by January 1, 2016, no food service business shall sell or provide food in Styrofoam products. The bill also will require these same businesses to use only compostable or recyclable food service ware by January 1, 2017! While we regret the exclusion of meat trays from the ban, we remain proud that this bill passed in the face of strong industry resistance.
The Council also passed the Waste Management Modernization Act of 2014, which introduces a waste management hierarchy. The bill establishes a clear priority for reuse and recycling over landfilling and incineration, requires separation of waste into recyclables, compostables, and trash, imposes strict reporting requirements for private haulers, and bans the disposal of a wide-range of electronic waste (e-waste). The bill also requires the government to develop a zero waste plan designed to move DC toward its goal of 80% waste diversion and leaves open the possibility of implementing a Pay as You Throw (PAYT) system, versions of which have contributed to major recycling gains in other cities. The Act even repealed old legislation that would have allowed for the construction of incinerators in the District. We regret the removal of the e-Stewards certification requirement for e-waste recycling and the failure to incentivize local reuse and recycling of e-waste, but remain confident that this bill will have a positive impact on waste management in DC.
We congratulate Councilmember Mary Cheh for taking the lead on these efforts, and thank all those who helped to pass these important bills. A big thanks in particular goes out to DC Environmental Network, Energy Justice Network, Anacostia Watershed Society, Institute for Local Self Reliance, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, Trash Free Maryland, SCRAP-DC, Anacostia Riverkeeper, and Surfrider Foundation!