The department owns and manages two transfer stations, each equipped with a materials recovery facility; a 2600-acre landfill; a pilot composting facility and mulching area. In 2013, the city launched Reimagine Phoenix, a sustainability initiative with a goal of increasing Phoenix’s waste diversion rate to 40 percent by 2020. The department has identified three focus areas that could help accomplish this goal: expand community and educational outreach; enhance existing or offer new solid waste programmes to customers; foster partnerships with the private and public sectors to develop a circular economy.
The growth and development of partnerships with the public and private sectors are crucial to achieving the goal of reaching a 40 percent diversion rate by 2020. Through Reimagine Phoenix and guidance of Phoenix’s Mayor and City Council members, the Public Works Department is creating the Resource Innovation Campus (RIC), a 50-acre vacant land where public and private partners can collaborate, research, educate, manufacture products from the waste stream and use new technologies to transition Phoenix from a linear economy to a circular economy. Through a Request-for-Proposal (RFP) process, the RIC engages businesses, entrepreneurs and industries who find value in solid waste and can transform them into resources and materials for consumers, while stimulating the local economy. Additionally, the department has partnered with Arizona State University’s Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN) to provide an incubator for emerging businesses and technologies that will be catalysts to accomplishing a circular economy.
Ultimately, the Public Works Department would like to transform the 50-acre vacant land into a robust campus filled with entrepreneurs, scholars, artists, students and businesses working together to find solutions to sustainability issues. The department envisions the RIC to be the hub of waste-to-new-product manufacturers, as well as the city’s centre for sustainability solutions. With support from private and public sector partners, the department is confident that manufacturers and emerging technology companies will find it financially lucrative to establish their waste-to-product businesses in Phoenix, while stimulating the local economy through job creation and potential revenues. Additionally, the city of Phoenix’s growing relationship with Arizona State University will entice sustainability students and scholars to research new methods of waste diversion that encourage a circular economy.