Phoenix goes digital to meet recycling goals

The city's waste-diversion goals for 2020 have been interrupted by the pandemic, but officials are hopeful new online resources will help the city continue its education and policy efforts.
screenshot from Phoenix's zero waste game
Phoenix's online "Zero Waste Game" (City of Phoenix)

To meet waste-diversion goals by the end of 2020, Phoenix has taken its recycling education program online, using digital tools to educate businesses, K-12 students and community groups while adhering to social-distancing and other public health measures.

The city launched its Recycle+ website on Wednesday which also marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The website is the new digital arm of the city’s Zero Waste team, a unit in the Phoenix Public Works Department that normally offers recycling facility tours, community events and presentations that teach businesses and K-12 students how to recycle.

For now, the website includes a virtual tour of Phoenix’s materials recovery facility that was previously offered in-person, instructional videos on what can be recycled and what cannot, quizzes for different age groups and a “Zero Waste Game” that tests players’ recycling knowledge. One of the goals is to gift parents that have been forced to homeschool their children a “free 15 minutes,” according to the site.

“Public Works values community engagement even with the current social distancing guidelines,” public works director Ginger Spencer said. “Recycle+ is one way we are adapting to the new norms to keep connecting with Phoenix residents and continue our recycling education strategy to achieve a 40% waste diversion rate by the end of 2020.”


Phoenix launched its “Reimagine Phoenix initiative” in 2013 with the goal of diverting 40 percent of landfill waste by the end of 2020. The city currently stands at a diversion rate of 36 percent, two percent higher than the national average according to the public works department, and has adopted the goal of producing zero waste by 2050. Phoenix already had a recycling website, but the new educational site was born “out of the need to transition” away from in-person education because of the coronavirus, according to spokesperson Yvette Roeder. The city will continue to update the site with webinars and fresh informational videos, according to Roeder.

Ryan Johnston

Written by Ryan Johnston

Ryan Johnston is a staff reporter for StateScoop, covering the intersection of local government and emerging technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence and 5G.

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