D.C. Council seeks ways to reduce District's waste
D.C. lawmakers on Monday discussed legislation that aims to reduce the District’s waste and divert more of it from landfills and incineration as a means to help reach the city’s sustainability goals in 13 years. Council member Mary Cheh, chairwoman of the Transportation and the Environment Committee, held a hearing Monday on the Zero Waste Omnibus Amendment Act of 2019 and noted the city government’s goal to divert 80% of the District’s waste by 2032. “Progress on the goal has proceeded slowly, and the District lags well behind other jurisdictions in our waste diversion efforts,” said Ms. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat. “Our current city wide residential diversion rate is only 23% which puts us behind the national average of 34% and well behind other progressive jurisdictions like Montgomery County at about 60% and San Francisco above 70%.” The legislation, which was introduced in October by eight council members, would require commercial food producers such as those at universities, hospitals, hotels and large restaurants, to separate and compost their food waste. It also would require restaurants to provide only reusable plates, cups and bowls for on-site eating and offer only accessory disposable ware, such as napkins and silverware, upon request. In addition, the bill would create extended product responsibility programs for batteries and sharp objects such as needles and syringes. It would be similar to the District’s paint stewardship law, which requires paint manufacturers to collect and recycle or safely dispose of their unused products. Catherine Plume, vice chair of the local chapter of the Sierra Club, said restaurants could reduce their waste by 90% by composting. She applauded the legislation’s varied approaches to achieving sustainability but expressed concern about enforcing it if it becomes law.