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Louisville Public Works Seeks To Reduce Waste In Landfills

Erich Ferdinand/Creative Commons

Louisville Metro Public Works is using a new model for creating a strategy to reduce the city’s waste that ultimately ends up in landfills.

The city will form a “collective impact committee” of business representatives and residents to address waste and recycling issues. The committee — which is open to anyone — aims to create a strategy to meet the waste reduction goals set by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s office in its 2013 Sustainability Plan.

The plan seeks to achieve 90 percent residential recycling participation by 2025 and to divert 90 percent of solid waste from landfills by 2042.

The committee will be structured according to the collective impact model, "where organizations from different sectors agree to solve a specific community challenge using a common agenda, aligning efforts and using a common measure of success,” said Public Education Coordinator Angela Futter.

Futter said the first meeting would allow attendees to discuss the logistics of the committee and its constraints and opportunities.

“We’re going to work with the stakeholders and see what works for everyone,” she said. ”We are open to having anybody that is interested to come in … and we would love to have as much participation as we can get.”

But Solid Waste Advisory Committee Member Sarah Lynn Cunningham said political action would ultimately be needed for the committee to be effective.

“There’s no shortage of plans, no shortage of proposals and studies, but a shortage on political will to actually implement these ideas,” Cunningham said.

To meet its goals, the city will need more infrastructure to divert waste from landfills, Cunningham said. And she said any conversation will also have to include areas of Louisville Metro outside the Urban Services District and larger small cities.

“The administrations of the fifth- and sixth-class cities throughout the county can throw a wrench into the works if they don’t want to do anything differently than what they’re already doing,” she said. “We’re going to have to work hard to get them to see why this is in their interest, too, or else they are likely going to try to block it.”

The collective impact model is already being used in Louisville. Futter said the model is implemented by the 55,000 Degrees program, which is aimed at increasing graduation rates, and in the Dual Diagnosis Cross-Functional Team, which seeks to reduce substance abuse.

The first meeting of the Reuse Collective Impact Committee is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. on Feb. 16 at Metro United Way, 334 E. Broadway.