The Zero Waste Subcommittee convenes stakeholders to facilitate the development of environmentally responsible policies and practices that help the city achieve ‘zero waste’ (90% waste diversion) through food waste minimization, increased surplus food donation, and a robust composting infrastructure. The subcommittee educates Philadelphians about the economic, environmental, and social benefits of converting food waste into valuable resources.
FPAC members identified food waste as a policy gap in FPAC’s programming, in response to a presentation about the composting infrastructure in the greater Philadelphia region. Members established the Zero Waste Subcommittee in fall 2013 to address this gap.
Compost System Design Competition
The subcommittee launched the Compost System Design Competition in December 2016 to crowd-source design ideas for a neighborhood-scale composting unit that is affordable and easy to build. The subcommittee conducted outreach to organizations and received 20 submissions. Experts from Bennett Compost and the Dirt Factory chose two finalists: a water tank design from the Workshop School and a refurbished chest freezer design from Let’s Talk Trash, a zero waste education organization from British Columbia, Canada. See here for more information about the competition and our design criteria.
After the winner is revealed, FPAC will begin a mini-grant cycle to provide funds for community organizations to build the winning design. Check back again for more details!
PPR Summer Meals Food Recovery Pilot
In summer 2016, the Zero Waste Subcommittee piloted a project in partnership with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) to recover excess food from the summer meals program and donate the food to neighborhood soup kitchens, shelters, and food pantries. Using the MEANS database, PPR staff located at rec center summer camps in the Kensington, Port Richmond, and Lower Northeast neighborhoods notified local meal providers when there was packaged food from lunch that would otherwise go to waste. When notified through MEANS, staff and volunteers at the pantries and soup kitchens were able to pick up the food donations to serve at their organizations. The subcommittee aims to help PPR expand the pilot to all neighborhoods citywide in 2017.
Zero Waste Policy Recommendations
In October 2015, FPAC members voted to approve the Zero Waste Policy Recommendations. FPAC was pleased when Mayor Kenney took office in 2016 and set a goal for the City to achieve zero waste by 2035, and established the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet. In March 2017, the subcommittee provided updates to the recommendations.
Zero Waste White Paper
After conducting research around waste practices in Philadelphia, the subcommittee developed a White Paper report outlining waste practices in the city. Through a comprehensive research process, the report aimed to provide an overview of Philadelphia’s waste management landscape, and offer recommendations to the City on how to achieve a zero waste goal. The report has become an internal working document that the subcommittee uses to guide their work.