The economic downturn related to COVID-19 has harshly impacted the City’s budget and has forced reductions and consolidations of City initiatives. In this context, the City’s Zero Waste initiatives have been consolidated into the Office of Sustainability. We are particularly saddened that the Zero Waste and Litter Director, Nic Esposito, is no longer working with the City. Nic was a stalwart champion for this work and we are tremendously grateful for his service overseeing the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet.

Under his direction, the City and the Cabinet drove forward a range of important work in reducing litter through data, improving internal coordination to combat illegal dumping, and promoting both public sector and private sector waste diversion. The Cabinet was created to implement the 2017 Zero Waste and Litter Action (ZWL) Plan to ensure that existing programs and policies within City departments were optimized, and that new programs and policies were embedded in departments to continue past this administration.

Moving ahead, much of the critical work started by the Cabinet has become institutionalized and integrated into routine operations of the appropriate City departments and will continue to advance. ZWL staff have been transferred to the Office of Sustainability to continue work to meet the objectives of the Mayor’s 2016 Executive Order while also supporting the Mayor’s goals to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Reducing waste and consumption and making our communities clean, healthy and safe are key parts of the Greenworks sustainability plan, so the merger of these efforts will be seamless.

ZWL programs that engage public and private sector partners in waste reduction and diversion will continue under the Office of Sustainability, including the Zero Waste Partnership Program and Municipal Building Waste Audit Program.

The work of the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet has helped to improve City processes, make more efficient systems, and engage more stakeholders throughout the city in making our communities cleaner and healthier. Through a smart use of data, policy analysis, and engagement tactics, a small group of people have had an outsized impact on making Philadelphia a better place. With this foundation, we are committed to finding a new path forward for this important work.