Kenney Creates Trash Cabinet to Make Philly Cleaner … by 2035

Philly will join cities like New York and Los Angeles, which have also implemented "zero waste" plans.


Photo | Jeff Fusco

Mayor Jim Kenney has signed an executive order that aims to make the city a little less dirty.

The order will allow for the creation of a 16-member Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet, which will essentially gather existing employees from the city’s most prominent offices – including representatives from the School District of Philadelphia, the Office of the District Attorney, SEPTA, PennDOT, the Department of Planning and Development and the Commerce Department – so everyone can get together and talk about trash. 

“A clean Philadelphia is a vibrant and healthy Philadelphia,” Kenney said yesterday in a press release. “With this executive order, I’m assembling a group of experts from within and outside of government to identify more effective ways to increase our waste diversion rate and tackle the long-standing problems of litter and cleanliness that many of our neighborhoods have long struggled with.”

The group has six months to produce a public, fully-fledged strategy for its goals, which include creating a “zero waste plan” that will work toward drastically reducing waste in the city by 2035, largely by diverting it away from conventional landfills and incinerators and toward recycling facilities. Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis and Deputy Managing Director for Transportation and Infrastructure Clarena Tolson will co-chair the cabinet, which will consist of at least 14 other members.

Philly joins cities like New York and Los Angeles, which have both created “zero waste” plans. The organization will also aim to prevent and eliminate illegal dumping in public spaces, create a “litter index” to gauge that progress and develop community outreach and education initiatives.

Nic Esposito, who will serve as the Zero Waste and Litter director, said the cabinet will prioritize litter reduction and help “streamline our messaging throughout the city.” Besides bringing Esposito on board, the group won’t receive additional funding.

“Over the years, I’ve seen important but piecemeal efforts toward reducing waste and litter in Philadelphia,” DiBerardinis said in a statement.  “I’m convinced that a comprehensive, interdepartmental approach that tackles all aspects of the issues – and coordinates the responses across departments, in cooperation with City Council and community members – is the only way to achieve the aspirational goals of a zero waste, litter free city – and this cabinet can help accomplish those objectives.”

If you’re wondering why Philly’s streets are so dirty to begin with, Philadelphia magazine’s Malcolm Burnley can provide a little insight into what Travel + Leisure ranked as the sixth dirtiest city in America.

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