Philadelphia, December 17, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that City of Philadelphia’s Waste Watchersinitiative, a strategy to train and deploy volunteers to reduce drastically waste at large-scale public events by promoting responsible waste disposal, has been recognized as a runner-up in the Cities of Service Blueprint Contest. Philadelphia is a member of the Cities of Service coalition, a New York-based national non-profit that supports mayors to engage citizen volunteers in solving specific urban challenges and to implement effectively service strategies that can be replicated.

Waste Watchers is a great example of what a dedicated, civic-minded national service team with a strong plan can accomplish to make a meaningful difference for Philadelphia,” Mayor Nutter said. “I appreciate that Cities of Service has recognized the value of the city’s collaboration with community and volunteers, which can and will continue to grow with their support. We are honored to be the recipients of a Cities of Service Blueprint Contest award. I want to thank Catherine Wolfgang, Chief Service Officer, and the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service for all they do to make this program possible.”

As a runner-up in the Cities of Service Blueprint Contest, Philadelphia will receive $5,000 to expand and improve Waste Watchers and its blueprint is now publically available on the Cities of Service online resource library.

Through Philadelphia’s Waste Watchers sustainability initiative, more than 1,400 volunteers have been recruited and trained to help attendees at large-scale citywide events separate their waste into trash, recycling and compost receptacles. Waste Watchers is a collaborative effort between citizens and multiple City entities, including the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service, the Office of Sustainability, the Office of the City Representative, the Streets Department, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and RISE.

At the 2012 Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon, Waste Watchers achieved an 87.5% waste diversion rate, earning the Marathon a Gold Certification from the Council for Responsible Sport that has been maintained for two years in a row. Due to its success, the initiative has been implemented at three additional major events in the city: Blue Cross Broad Street Run, Philadelphia Science Festival Carnival and the Philadelphia Cycling Classic.

“Cities of Service exists to cultivate and elevate the best thinking and partnerships driving city-led, citizen-centric change across key issues in cities, and to share the wealth of what’s working for exponential impact,” said Myung Lee, Cities of Service Executive Director. “Mayor Nutter’s Waste Watchers program relies on the coordination of multiple city agencies, nonprofits and volunteers, and makes a real impact for everyone in the community and our environment as a whole.”

Cities of Service blueprints offer necessary steps for cities to partner effectively with non-profit and community-based organizations, leveraging citizen volunteers to measurably improve local quality of life. All of the winning blueprints provide step-by-step instructions on strategy to address a common problem facing cities and describe an existing initiative that has been successful, use volunteers as a central strategy, produce measurable impact on the issue, and involve a significant and meaningful role for the mayor and his offices. Cities of Service coalition members can receive technical assistance and support to bring these and other blueprints to life in their cities.

In addition to Philadelphia, the cities of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Nashville, Tennessee; and Orlando, Florida were also recognized. Across the United States, there are currently 31 cities that are actively implementing initiatives with Cities of Service focused on the organization’s six impact areas: education and youth, health, neighborhood revitalization, preparedness and safety, sustainability and veterans.


To view Philadelphia’s winning blue print:

For more information on the Waste Watchers initiative or how to become a Waste Watchers

Cities of Service is a national non-profit. To learn more visit or on follow them on Twitter @citiesofservice.

Posted in Mayor's Press Releases, mayors press release
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