From the Greening Committee: Waste diversion at Greenbuild 2017

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Have you ever wondered where your trash ends up? I live in downtown Boston, and twice a week, a garbage truck comes through my North End neighborhood and picks up my trash. It magically disappears, but where does it go? Do you know where your trash goes? If you did know, would it change your behavior for how you handle your waste and recycling? What are the impacts on the environment, both inside and outside our cities?

The Greening Committee for Greenbuild 2017 wants to know the answers to these questions. Each year, Greenbuild challenges itself to walk the talk of sustainability. This year’s attendance goal of 30,000 means a lot of trash at our convention center in Boston, Massachusetts. How much trash will you put on the pile at Greenbuild 2017? USGBC plans to find out, while also engaging student volunteers to provide program information, or “talking trash,” at each waste and recycling station on the expo hall floor.

Reducing waste at Greenbuild—and in Massachusetts

In the months leading up to Greenbuild and also at the event, our committee will be talking about WasteWise, a program developed by the EPA. WasteWise helps organizations reduce their impact on global climate change through waste reduction. WasteWise also gives you a guide to tracking waste in EnergyStar Portfolio Manager. The WasteWise program will be the foundation for “talking trash” points at Greenbuild 2017.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is targeting a 30 percent reduction of trash by 2020 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050 from a 2008 baseline. As of 2015, Massachusetts had seen a 16 percent reduction. Like many other states across the U.S., Massachusetts is challenged with what do with its trash. The Commonwealth sends its waste to municipal landfills, incineration stations and other states via waste-by-rail. On the bright side, recycling has been a tremendous success in the Commonwealth. Another great initiative is “waste to energy” programs. Expect to learn more about the Commonwealth’s waste and recycling programs from Greenbuild 2017’s “talking trash” initiative.

The City of Boston will play a critical role in the Commonwealth’s waste reduction goals. Greenovate is Mayor Walsh’s initiative to get all Bostonians involved in eliminating pollution. My first involvement with Greenovate was acting as the energy efficiency and renewable energy manager for the City of Boston. Waste diversion strategies live within Greenovate’s Climate Action Plan. The City of Boston’s waste and recycling programs will also be part of the “talking trash” points at Greenbuild 2017.

How close can we get to zero?

What is Greenbuild 2017’s plan for waste diversion, and how can you participate? USGBC has a goal of moving Greenbuild toward being a zero waste event. In 2015, Greenbuild had an 84 percent waste diversion rate. This reached 90 percent in Los Angeles last year. How can we eliminate the last 10 percent? The Greening Committee believes the answers are education, innovation and the will to do good for future generations. We’ll provide the education, you provide the innovation and we will collaborate toward a waste-free future.

Go ahead, talk some trash on Twitter leading up to and at Greenbuild 2017 with @USGBC, @USGBCMA and @ToddIsherwood.

Learn more about Greenbuild 2017



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