Officials in Chester and Lancaster counties in Pennsylvania have begun exploring ways to reduce waste for the 450,000 people it serves in 49 municipalities, with the local landfill having just 15 years left of permitted capacity, reports the Daily Local News.
As part of this initiative, the Chester County Solid Waste Authority (CCSWA) has launched its Zero Waste Plan, which plans to reduce waste at the source through an information campaign targeted to consumers and municipalities, as well as by establishing a permanent household hazardous waste collection facility.
Patti Lynn, recycling resources manager for the CCSWA, says that the Zero Waste initiatives are “long term,” with goals extending into 2022 and 2023 including outreach on zero waste strategies to businesses, business associations, chambers of commerce and institutions.
“People have a sense of being able to control garbage over the last 30 years through recycling mandates. Thirty years ago, nobody wanted to do it, but it has evolved into a habit,” Lynn said. “But recycling can only take us so far. It’s time to rethink solid waste from beginning to end.”
At West Chester University, sustainability efforts are well underway, according to Bradley Flamm, director of West Chester University’s Office of Sustainability. He described a variety of campus zero waste initiatives, many initiated by students in collaboration with faculty and staff on the university’s Sustainability Council.
“Many people understand the importance of diverting materials that leave our campus for reuse, repurposing or recycling rather than going to a landfill or incinerator,” he said. “But such diversion rates are rather complicated and don’t fully capture the fact that we strive to be more efficient in the materials we bring on campus and use in the first place.”
Flamm adds that WCU prioritizes working with a hauling company that can offer a comprehensive recycling education program; effective collection, sorting, bundling and marketing of recyclable materials; and waste disposal in a landfill with effective environmental management practices that capture landfill gases for productive uses, such as heating or electricity generation.
In terms of effective sustainability efforts for businesses, Kimberton Whole Foods’ Pat Brett, who founded the company with her husband Terry, said they created a Climate Committee with volunteer team members from each of Kimberton Whole Foods’ stores.
The six stores began by focusing on packaging and food waste at food service areas.
Brett notes that employees are a key to success, with ongoing education efforts to ensure effective recycling practices. Kimberton Whole Foods continues a multitude of waste reduction programs including partnering with farmers to provide food waste for animal feed.