Dubai has the largest ecological footprint of any city in the world. By 2050, it wants to have the smallest. How is it getting there? Gleaming driverless metro trains now run the length of the linear city, carrying about as many people, and often faster, as the cars on that clogged 12-lane artery.
On Dubai’s southern outskirts, a new housing development has opened—called Sustainable City—that recycles its water and waste and produces more energy than it consumes. And further out in the desert, Dubai is building a giant solar power plant that will soon be producing some of the cheapest and cleanest electricity on Earth.
The city’s leadership has recognized that the growth of the economy is not sustainable without taking action on emissions. The city hopes that it will get 75 percent of its energy from clean sources by 2050. They want it to have the smallest carbon footprint in the world. And if it can happen here, they say, it can happen anywhere.
The Ohio State University (for the 5th year in a row) topped the Big Ten Conference in the annual GameDay Recycling Challenge by diverting more waste than any other Big Ten university. With an average diversion rate of 95.4 percent at Ohio Stadium during the 2016 home football season, it achieves the Zero Waste status at the Ohio Stadium. By 2025 the university hopes to minimize the impact of massive amounts of waste by supporting a university
-wide sustainability goal of achieving zero waste on campus.
San Francisco has an 80 percent success rate at keeping discards out of landfills as of 2013. How did they do it? In 2007, the city put a ban on disposable plastic bags—the first in the nation—and subsequently followed by other cities, and soon by the entire state of California. The ban prompted more use of reusable shopping bags to cut down on the amount of litter reaching local landfills and local beaches.
Two years later, San Francisco made recycling and composting mandatory: residents, businesses, and events face fines if they put recyclables or compostables like food waste in regular trash instead of the proper curbside bins. It’s stated that the reason their program is so successful is that reaching Zero Waste has really become one of the core values of San Francisco.