We are living in a linear, “take-make-waste” society. After investing labor and energy into manufacturing products, the majority of these products end up in the landfill. As our population and demand for resources grows, this path is becoming increasingly unsustainable. In Charlotte, over 1 million tons of waste is generated each year, while only 11.5% is being diverted from the landfill and recycled into new products.
We need to make the shift to a circular economy – recognizing the value of materials even as waste, extending the lifespan of products, preserving our investment in products, and preventing loss of valuable materials to landfill. Plastics are a great place to start! We have over 147,000 tons of plastics in our waste stream of which only about 3,000 tons is recycled. Now multiply that by all the other cities and towns in the US and you have a daunting problem, though we see this as an opportunity.
Charlotte is the first US city to commit to the Circular Economy! Envision Charlotte and the City of Charlotte launched an initiative called “Circular Charlotte” to transform Charlotte into a Circular City. This initiative is about establishing alternative models for the materials with the highest opportunity – starting with plastic, organics, textiles, and construction materials.
Our Planet Demands a More Sustainable Future. You Can Help!
In June 2018, the Sustainable and Resilient Charlotte by 2050 Resolution was unanimously passed by City Council. This resolution set aggressive and aspirational municipal and community-wide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals for the City of Charlotte. Specifically, it strives to have City fleet and facilities be fueled by 100% zero-carbon sources by 2030. It also sets a community-wide goal for Charlotte to become a low carbon city by 2050 by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to below 2 tons of CO2 emission per person annually. Lastly, it called for a strategic energy action plan to determine how Charlotte would reach the two goals.