Cities Rising: Transforming the world’s least sustainable city
Katie Couric, Cities Rising August 9, 2017
By Alexandra Zaslow
Phoenix is throwing away the reputation it once had as the world’s least sustainable city and making great strides to become more resourceful.
It has launched a Reimagine Phoenix Initiative with a goal to increase the city’s waste diversion rate to 40 percent by 2020 — and it doesn’t stop there.
“We’re going straight to zero waste by the year 2050,” said Ginger Spencer, the city’s public works director.
With 1 million tons of waste being sent to the landfill annually, Phoenix began to devise ways to become a more sustainable city.
The Resource Innovation Campus was created to “redefine” trash for Phoenix’s residents and businesses.
“Ironically, one of our most innovative departments is the [one] that most people would think was the most kind of old-school, traditional department,” Mayor Greg Stanton said. “We’re turning it on its head and saying that needs to be the most innovative place in the entire city of Phoenix.”
On the Resource Innovation Campus sits a 27-acre transfer station for compost and recycling, as well as 50 acres of land for businesses. In partnership with the city, the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network Incubator, located on the campus, works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to turn the city’s trash into resources.
“What we’re throwing away and things that we’re recycling actually have a tremendous amount of value,” said Alicia Marseille, director of the incubator.
Sustainability isn’t just happening on that campus: The entire city of Phoenix is working to become more resourceful.
Across the city, streetlights are switching over to LEDs and roofs of city buildings and facilities are switching to solar.
“Phoenix is leading the way,” Stanton said. “That’s what we owe future generations.”