Waste is not just an environmental problem for cities around the world, contributing to air, land and water pollution, but low recycling rates are an economic loss as well. In Exeter the recycling rate was 30% at the end of 2017, below the national average of 45% in 2016. By recycling more, and optimising waste collection and deliveries, we can both reduce pollution in the City and generate new income that will help us to become more financially sustainable.
Achieving the goal of Exeter City Futures for waste to be seen as a resource will involve increasing the awareness of residents and businesses about waste disposal and management. It will also require the City to assess and improve the logistics of the waste collection vehicles in order to minimise the time they spend in the city centre.
The environmental benefits of achieving this goal are not just about landfill or plastic in the ocean. By optimising waste collection and delivery we can reduce the number of heavy-load vehicles on our roads, alleviating congestion, reducing fuel consumption, and improving air quality. By increasing recycling more waste can be resold and repurposed, feeding into our economy. Although the circular economy is at the heart of this goal it will also help us to solve transportation and energy challenges in Exeter as well.
Imagining the Future of Exeter
Through our engagement activities with the diverse business and local communities of Exeter and by analysing best practices of other cities across the globe we have identified a set of features that Exeter will need to demonstrate in order to meet this Goal.
- Exeter has established a ‘zero waste zone’ to test and implement practices and policies that support our “Waste as a Resource” goal
- Exeter has a city-wide programme in place to achieve zero residual household waste
- 95% of all household waste is sent for reuse, recycling or composting
- Exeter is named as a plastic free city
- Nobody in Exeter thinks that litter is a problem in their community
- Zero waste shops are commonplace on the high street