Take Action > Toolkit: Adopt a Zero Waste Goal

Toolkit: Adopt a Zero Waste Goal


You’re committed, ready and excited. This may be your first community-wide step toward Zero Waste, or it may be the result of many smaller community initiatives that have set the stage and convinced your public officials of the benefits of Zero Waste. It doesn’t matter how you’ve arrived at this point. This is a big moment: announcing your Zero Waste goal.

Adopting a public Zero Waste resolution is a tremendous launch point for your community: It creates buzz and mobilizes your citizens, businesses, and government leaders to action. It changes the community dialogue from managing waste to eliminating waste. It is a defining point that says: “Today is the start of a new future!”

Setting a community target of Zero Waste is a critical early action for any community since it announces to everyone the clear intention that change is coming. Just as industry rarely ever achieves their stated goals of “Zero Defects” or “Zero Injuries,” it is still the most effective way for the CEO to tell everyone what the company’s goals are. The same is true for Zero Waste community planning and how the city staff and elected officials can send a clear message.

Why adopt an official policy

When your Zero Waste goal is official community policy, it does more than just change the conversation. As an official policy your Zero Waste goal:

  • establishes waste reduction and recovery as priority principles
  • allocates time and money toward Zero Waste projects
  • creates accountability
  • provides a framework for planning, funding and community and economic development

It also gives your government departments the authority to integrate Zero Waste practices into their everyday work. New goals are incorporated into your community master plans; green purchasing policies begin to support recycling, reuse and non-toxic products; recycling containers pop up in City Hall and along pedestrian walkways; parks begin to compost, and more. The municipal system begins to change and models sustainable, resilient behavior for its citizens, making the message clear: Zero Waste is the key to our community’s future.

Need to get your feet wet first? Start with a voluntary goal

Do you need to build more community support before you can adopt an official Zero Waste goal? Start with a voluntary target. Voluntary goals are a great way to create an understanding of Zero Waste as a stepping stone to official action.

Look for opportunities to adopt a voluntary goal through a community advisory board, chamber of commerce, school committee, local college, or neighborhood. No group is too small to declare a Zero Waste goal and start changing the conversation in their community today.

Tools to help you succeed

See which communities have adopted a Zero Waste goal and learn more about what they’ve done.

Download a model resolution with suggested language based on leading communities.

Share the resolutions from Teton County, WY, Oakland, CA, and Boulder County, CO with your elected officials as good models.

Use this checklist to make sure your policy has all the key elements to set your community on the right course.

Mobilize your community to support a Zero Waste resolution with this guide to Community Organizing for Zero Waste.

Connect with experts and peers that can help at every step along the way.


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Check the rest out of the tools we have for you here.

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