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Bowser Administration Releases Comprehensive Plan to Reduce Waste and Increase Recycling and Reuse Programs

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Plan Outlines Actions District Government and Residents Can Take to Divert Solid Waste Through Reduction, Reuse, Recycling, and Composting Programs

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, the Bowser Administration, through efforts led by the Department of Public Works (DPW), released the District’s plan to achieve a more sustainable future, maximize the benefits of renewable and reuseable resources, and minimize the amount of waste and greenhouse gas emissions generated by residents and government agencies by diverting 80% of solid waste away from landfills and incinerations.

“This is a comprehensive strategy for sustainable solid waste management aimed to inform future policy development and decision-making,” said DPW Director Timothy Spriggs. “It will require significant investment and a cohesive effort on the part of District Government and its regional partners, as well as a concerted effort by residents and businesses to adopt more sustainable practices. Together, we can realize our city’s zero waste goals.”

DC’s annual solid waste output averages 1.13 million tons annually—about 9 pounds per resident per day—and is predicted to reach 1.4 million tons by 2038. The new plan outlines a series of actions and policies that together would divert almost one million tons of DC’s solid waste annually, lower DC’s greenhouse gas emissions by over one million metric tons annually, and create 300 green jobs within District government.

Measures outlined in the Zero Waste DC plan include DPW’s Curbside Composting Pilot Program, which launched in August 2023 to encourage single-family homes to compost food waste rather than throw it away. The pilot is currently ongoing, with food waste set to be processed into compost and distributed to pilot participants.

The Plan was developed by DPW based on over eight years of research and analysis, collaboration between District agencies and external stakeholders, 20 community events and several public surveys that allowed residents to provide feedback, ideas, and solutions aimed at reducing DC’s waste footprint.

Strategies include:

  • Implementing refill and reuse policies citywide. Promoting the use of reusable containers for food, beverages, and other consumer goods, and providing incentives and support to businesses that offer reusables will reduce the amount of waste created in DC. Waste reduction has the biggest impact on greenhouse gas reduction, pollution prevention, and cost savings.
  • Adopting universal recycling and composting requirements. By ensuring recycling and composting services are available citywide, residents and visitors can divert their waste to zero waste pipelines over landfills and incinerators.
  • Developing a state-of-the-art Zero Waste Campus. The District is redeveloping the former Benning Road Transfer Station into a Zero Waste Campus to include expanded recycling and diversion services for District residents, plus the infrastructure and technology the District needs to meet its waste diversion goals.
  • Reducing recycling contamination. By implementing cart tagging programs citywide, the District can minimize contamination from residential recycling and composting and increase diversion rates.
  • Bolstering litter reduction policies and increasing illegal dumping enforcement to protect neighborhoods, parks, and waterways. Working to protect the environment, can build a cleaner DC, mitigate rodent activity, and enhance community awareness of zero waste efforts.

The Zero Waste DC plan builds on previous District plans to increase sustainability in DC, including Carbon Free DC, Clean Energy DC, moveDC, Sustainable DC 2.0, and Climate Ready DC.

To learn more about the Zero Waste DC Plan, visit