Maintain and repair city-owned spaces and infrastructure to increase longevity, and support opportunities for residents to do the same for privately owned items and property
🍏 Reusable food and drink containers
Single-use packaging is ubiquitous in food services and retail, yet it is increasingly linked to multiple health, sanitation and environmental problems - polluting both the city, its waterways and surrounding ecosystems.
Reusable food and drink containers can help to design out and eliminate, where possible, the use of single-use packaging in food services and retail. Reusable containers can be used, washed and reused multiple times to mitigate plastics pollution at its source.
Commonly, the implementation of reusable food and drinks containers relies on a strong collaboration with businesses to adopt such schemes. Yet, local governments can play an important role in promoting and supporting these behaviours. This support can come in a variety of forms, for example, awareness raising campaigns aimed at residents, as well as promoting businesses that are engaging with reusable food and drink containers. Experimental zones can also be used to test and encourage the use of reusable containers. Local governments can, in partnership with regional and national governments, regulate the use of certain materials and packaging in the city, which incentivises reusable packaging for food and drink.
*Caution: with their often higher per-unit impact when compared with single-use alternatives, implementing reusable container schemes must be balanced with behaviour change away from a throw-away mindset to ensure that these containers are used multiple times, otherwise the expected environmental impact may not be realised. *
💧 Grey-water reuse systems
The water consumed by households must be of a sufficiently good quality to safely drink, bathe and clean with. However, the quality of water required for each of these needs differs significantly. For example, potable or drinking water must be of a higher quality than the water used to flush a toilet or irrigate a garden (so called “greywater”). It is possible to significantly reduce our overall water consumption by using and reusing non-potable water sources for lower quality purposes—a strategy particularly relevant for drought-stressed cities.
Greywater reuse systems can be applied at household level to collect water from showers and baths, filter and treat it, and then recirculate it to flush toilets or irrigate gardens. Alternatively, a sports centre can collect greywater from showers and hand basins and process it to be used to irrigate an adjacent sports field or community garden.
Cities can encourage the uptake of greywater reuse systems through awareness campaigns, regulations and financial incentives. Awareness campaigns can show the potential environmental and financial benefits of installing greywater systems. Regulations can be in the form of building codes and requirements in which the installation of a grey water reuse system is compulsory, unless practically infeasible. Financial incentives are usually in the form of rebates for installing such a system. Municipal governments can also lead by example and procure such greywater reuse systems in municipal or city-run buildings, such as municipal offices or schools. This can not only improve the water-efficiency of such buildings, but can also showcase the benefits of the systems, and support local market demand.
👕📱 Circular centres, shops and malls for repair, restoration and resale of consumer goods
With the economic drive to sell more products, items that are cheaper to produce and sell are often prioritised over higher quality items that last a long time. These patterns of unsustainable consumption lead to many consumer goods being thrown away after only a short time, while still being perfectly usable.
Second-hand markets can present a tangible solution to support the reuse of consumer goods. Second-hand markets can provide a physical location to collect and offer consumer goods that are repaired, repurposed, reused. Consumer goods can range from furniture, to electronics, to clothing, and other consumer goods. Second-hand markets can even go as far as becoming a fully circular shopping centre, offering access to all different types of consumer goods. What is more, second-hand markets and supporting repair activities can be connected throughout a city to form a network to enable access to such goods and services throughout the entirety of a city.
Local governments can support the development of circular centres by providing both financial and in-kind support, and zoning particular areas for experimentation, repair and resale. They can also play a key role in connecting existing activities throughout the city, for example using digital platforms. Furthermore, local governments can play a key role in promoting reuse and repair activities throughout the city—reducing marketing costs for the businesses themselves and raising awareness for residents. Local governments may also stimulate skills development and make training available to repair and reuse organisations.
👕📱 Promote repair initiatives for consumer goods
Recent years have witnessed a shrinking of the lifespans of consumer goods, following trends in fast-fashion and planned obsolescence in consumer electronics. These patterns of unsustainable consumption lead to many consumer goods being thrown away after only a small amount of time.
Repair initiatives can present a tangible solution to support the repair of consumer goods. Repair initiatives, such as repair hubs, provide a physical location with tools to allow people to repair their goods, as well as experts to help in the repair process. Consumer goods can range from furniture, to electronics, to clothing, and other consumer goods. Repair initiatives can be connected throughout a city to form a network to enable access to a wide range of goods and services.
Local governments can promote such initiatives by providing space and equipment, financial support, recruiting staff or volunteers and raising awareness to local residents that such services are available and beneficial for society and the environment. Local governments can also introduce tax breaks for the costs of repair services to incentivise people to repair rather than purchase new goods
👕📱 Reusable products and containers
Single-use packaging is very common in food services and retail, and its expanded use in recent years has led to multiple health, sanitation and environmental problems—polluting public spaces, waterways and surrounding ecosystems.
However, this is a relatively new phenomenon, and there is a lot that can be done to shift away from non-biodegradable materials and encourage a return to reusable containers. Reusable containers can be used, washed and reused multiple times to reduce waste generation.
Commonly, the implementation of reusable food and drink containers relies on a strong collaboration with businesses to adopt and facilitate such schemes. Local governments can play an important role in promoting and supporting these behaviours through, for example, raising awareness about alternatives through campaigns and promoting participating businesses. Experimental zones can also be used to test and encourage the use of reusable containers. Local governments can, in partnership with regional and national governments, regulate the use of certain single-use materials and packaging in the city.
However, caution is warranted: with their often higher per-unit impact when compared with single-use alternatives, implementing reusable container schemes must be balanced with behaviour change away from a throw-away mindset to ensure that these containers are used multiple times, otherwise the expected environmental impact may not be realised.