Supporting cities to develop innovative waste management systems

Global waste generation is increasing faster than any other environmental pollutant. The International Solid Waste Association estimates that the waste sector could help reduce 15 to 20% of GHG emissions globally when a holistic approach to waste and sustainable materials management is taken, including waste reduction and avoidance, reuse, recycling, composting and treatment and disposal management.

Waste management is also a sector where mayors exercise significant authority, which opens up opportunities for ambitious action. Improving waste and material management contributes to making our cities cleaner, healthier and more resilient.

Furthermore, sustainable lifestyles depend very much on sustainable materials management. Supporting initiatives such as repair cafes, composting from small neighbourhoods to larger scales, and incubating startups that are upcycling materials or even reusing parts of buildings instead of demolition, not only allows for zero-waste economies but also has an enormous potential to contribute to the number of green and sustainable jobs in our cities. The International Labour Organization estimates that under a circular economy scenario, 45 million jobs could be added to the waste management sector by 2030, as well as 50 million jobs in related circular economy services such as repair and remanufacturing.

Focus areas:
  • Waste reduction
    Preventing and minimising waste generation, including restricting specific material streams (such as single use items and non-recyclable materials), incentive systems to change behaviour and awareness raising, and strengthening the development of circular lifestyles through zero waste consumption options (reusable mugs, repair cafes, etc).
  • Increase diversion from landfill and incineration
    Improving the quality of material streams through segregate collection, programs and public campaigns for enhancing recycling and reuse schemes, and deploying circular economy principles.
  • Improved food and organic waste management
    Implementation of opportunities for avoidance, utilisation and treatment of food waste and improving the potential of carbon offset and sequestration.

The Waste to Resources Network is led by San Francisco.

The network particularly supports cities that have signed or plan to sign the Zero Waste Accelerator in reaching the following ambitious goals and targets: 

  1. Reduce the municipal solid waste generation per capita by at least 15% by 2030 compared to 2015.
  2. Reduce the amount of municipal solid waste disposed to landfill and incineration by at least 50% by 2030 compared to 2015.
  3. Increase the diversion rate away from landfill and incineration to at least 70% by 2030. Read “Global Food Waste Management: An Implementation Guide for Cities” for more information.