Rethinking Waste

The Sustainability Section is working to make Flagstaff a leader in waste prevention and recycling. Guiding our efforts is the Rethink Waste Plan, which contains the following goals:

  • Achieve zero waste conditions by 2050. This would mean diverting 90% of the material produced in Flagstaff from the landfill.
  • Reduce overall waste generation.
  • Reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with Flagstaff's waste and material consumption.
  • Increase participation in waste and recycling services.

The Rethink Waste Plan outlines multiple initiatives in the near term to get Flagstaff on track to achieving these goals. You can read a summary of the goals and initiatives (PDF) or the entire plan (PDF) here. 

Achieving Goals

In order to achieve these goals, the City of Flagstaff is rethinking how we deal with waste and shifting from an emphasis on recycling to a framework that prioritizes preventing waste at its source and reducing the impacts of our consumption, most of which occurs prior to its arrival to Flagstaff. This new framework is known as sustainable materials management. For a deeper explanation of this decision making framework and possible actions, visit the EPA's Sustainable Materials Management page.

Taking charge of Flagstaff's waste and material consumption will not only help the community conserve resources, but recycling and preventing waste can actually be an effective way to reduce Flagstaff's climate impacts.

Waste Prevention

Did you know that 42% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are associate with the stuff that we consume in our everyday lives?

One of the key actions for reducing these emissions is waste prevention, which means avoiding the creation of waste to begin with. More simply, it is the "reduce and reuse" part of the waste hierarchy and can help Flagstaff residents and businesses save money by avoiding the purchase of new products, as well as the cost of recycling and disposing of items you have already purchased. It is important to reuse the items you already own and "reduce" by doing things like unsubscribing from mailing lists in order to minimize the junk mail you receive. To learn more about how to prevent waste, check out our Be Resourceful webpage.

Fix-It Clinic

Food Waste

One of the biggest components of the materials that end up in our landfill is food waste. In fact, 40% of all food purchased in the U.S. is never eaten and most of that occurs at the household level. Besides taking up space in our landfills, when we waste food, we can never get back the time, energy, money, and natural resources that went into producing, transporting, and purchasing our food.

Thankfully its pretty easy to start reducing the amount of money spend of food you never eat and our food waste webpage is full of tips, tools, and strategies for getting there.


Recycling provides great benefits to the community including minimizing the use of natural resources, saving money, creating jobs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and more. Whether you are a Flagstaff resident or business owner, you can find information about recycling services that are offered, what can and cannot be recycled in Flagstaff, as well as opportunities to learn more about the recycling process at our recycling webpage.



For any of your organic kitchen and garden waste you need to dispose of, composting is a great option that reduces the amount of garbage you produce and can then be used a food for plants mulch in a garden in your backyard or elsewhere in the community. For more information on compost services, places you can drop off your food scraps, how to compost in your own backyard, check out our composting webpage.