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  • Emma Krasnopoler, U.S. Green Building Council

UPDATED - Make Zero Waste a Reality for DC! Help Name our New Campaign!

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who submitted suggestions for names for our new DC Zero Waste Campaign! Our four finalists are:

Mission Zero Waste

Operation Clean DC

Waste Watchers

Zero Heroes DC

You can cast your vote here to decide which of the four finalists will become our official name. Voting will be open until midnight on Friday, September 28. Follow us on Twitter (@USGBCNCR) for regular updates on which name is in the lead!

Between being named the first LEED Platinum city in the world, instituting a plastic bag tax, and declaring its ongoing commitment to the Paris Climate Accord, Washington DC is leading the way in urban sustainability. Despite our progress, there are still opportunities for the District to improve, and one of the biggest areas for improvement is DC’s waste stream.

Because DC’s single-stream recycling program allows all recyclable materials to be comingled in one bin, facilities that sort through the waste have their work cut out for them. A Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF) in Montgomery County has had to sort through items that should never have been recycled in the first place, such as electronics, plastic bags, and even dirty diapers. DC’s Zero Waste office says that contamination in recycling is one of its biggest obstacles.

The second biggest obstacle that is keeping DC from reaching its target waste diversion rate of 80 percent by 2032 is that commercial properties in DC are not recycling properly, and some aren’t recycling at all. By law, all businesses in DC are required to separate and collect recyclable materials, but in 2017 DC’s Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Program team issued 390 tickets to properties that were not meeting the minimum standards for recycling and waste management.

USGBC National Capital Region is stepping up to tackle DC’s waste problem. We are launching a zero waste campaign aimed at improving Washington, DC’s waste diversion rate by educating the city’s restaurants and retailers about DC Zero Waste’s campaign and goals, DC’s current recycling requirements, and other opportunities to divert waste from the dump. Using GBCI’s new TRUE Zero Waste certification program as a guide, we want to make zero waste a reality in DC, and we need your help!

We are looking for a taskforce of volunteers that are passionate about zero waste and eager to share their urban sustainability aspirations with their favorite businesses. Businesses want their customers to be happy, so by using the power of your voice (and your dollar!), you can encourage businesses to do their part to help get trash out of DC. Watch for the call for taskforce volunteers to go out in our newsletter in the next few weeks.

Because this campaign belongs to the people of DC who want to make a difference, we want you to name the campaign. Put your creativity and imagination to the test and submit any name ideas to us by Tweeting at us @USGBCNCR or through this form by Friday, August 31. Finalists will be voted on via social media (@USGBCNCR) between Tuesday, September 4 and Friday, September 14. (UPDATE: The call for name nominations is now closed, but you can vote for one of our finalists by clicking the link at the beginning of this article. Voting is open until September 28.)

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