Phoenix Aims for New Business Program to Buoy Waste Diversion

By Cheryl McMullen, Waste 360.

The city of Phoenix set some ambitious waste reduction goals in 2013, including achieving a diversion rate of 40 percent by 2020 and reaching zero waste by 2050. In the years since it has launched several initiatives to achieve those goals. The most recent push includes the launch of the Green Business Leader Program, which aims to encourage businesses to establish recycling and waste diversion programs.

So far, 30 businesses including coffee shops, restaurants and law firms to retailers like Whole Foods and manufacturers like McNeilus Truck & Manufacturing, Inc., an Oshkosh Corp., are now certified Green Business Leaders.

While the city’s public works department handles collection and disposal of solid waste and recyclables for more than 350,000 households and some small multi-family units, thanks to a decades-old ordinance, city does not provide solid waste collection service to commercial or industrial establishments or to any building with more than 30 multifamily dwelling units. Some environmental groups and residents of multifamily buildings hope to persuade the city to change the law. In the meant time, the city has put forth the green business program to encourage commercial recycling, and to recognize businesses establishing policies and practices for waste diversion.

Excluding public and private businesses, makes it difficult to gauge how much those companies and large multifamily buildings are recycling, as they are not required by law to report diversion rates. Still, Joe Giudice, the city’s assistant public works director, estimates the city has a 20 percent diversion rate and as programs and efforts continue to build and grow, he expects the diversion rate to improve.