Zero Waste Design Guidelines


The Zero Waste Design Guidelines address the crucial role that design plays in achieving NYC’s ambitious goal, outlined in OneNYC, to send zero waste to landfills by 2030. This includes all types of waste, including food waste, and the guidelines outline design strategies for reducing waste and increasing waste diversion within buildings and the urban environment. The Guidelines were developed through a collaborative process starting in November 2016. More than 100 collaborators—including architects, planners, developers, city officials, waste haulers, recycling experts and building managers —engaged in multidisciplinary workshops at New York’s Center for Architecture. The guidelines team visited more than 40 buildings and held discussions with porters and supers to fully understand waste collection issues across building types.

As a resource to help designers, building operators, and planners, the Guidelines will encourage the collaboration needed to dramatically reduce waste and work toward greater adoption of circular material flows. Treating waste as a resource rather than trash depends on our ability to easily separate and manage our waste. Applying design to improve the city’s current system of material flows will improve sidewalks and buildings as it lessens the environmental and human impacts of the current system in the city and beyond. Although developed in NYC, many of the strategies within the guidelines are transferable to other locations. The guidelines include a waste calculator to help designers and building managers determine the amount of waste a business or building will need to store and manage.

The Zero Waste Design Guidelines are made possible with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and were developed in collaboration with the AIA New York Committee on the Environment; Kiss + Cathcart, Architects; ClosedLoops; and the Foodprint Group.