On Nov. 9, the Board of Supervisors adopted the Fairfax County Government and Schools Zero Waste Plan (PDF). This sets county government and Fairfax County Public Schools on a path toward zero waste by 2030 with two goals: diverting 90% of waste away from landfills or incinerators and decreasing the total amount of waste generated by 25%.
The plan, which was first presented to the Board of Supervisors Environmental Committee on Sept. 28, includes background information on current waste generation, an overview of existing waste prevention and diversion programs, an analysis of the zero waste efforts of similar jurisdictions, 24 priority waste prevention and reduction strategies and an initial implementation structure that includes mechanisms to ensure and track progress.
The core of this plan is waste prevention; eliminating waste before it starts. The greatest benefits of zero waste will be achieved when people reduce consumption and systematically reuse materials and products. As such, the plan’s recommended strategies reflect the importance of a “whole lifecycle” approach that is inclusive and collaborative, as summarized by the 4R’s: Reach Out, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
The county and schools Joint Environmental Task Force requested the development of a plan to achieve zero waste by 2030 in support of its overarching goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. While this is an ambitious goal, the task force believes it is possible with ongoing commitments from both boards and participation from both government and schools staff. Through this plan, Fairfax County aims to become a leader in achieving a much-needed transition to a circular economy.