Approach 7: Reduce Waste and Water Use

Making less waste and using less water is the easiest and cheapest way to reduce emissions. In Miami-Dade County each person produces six pounds of garbage and uses 140 gallons of water every day. Moving and processing that garbage and water takes a lot of electricity and fuel, which costs residents and businesses money. County water conservation, recycling, composting and food recovery programs help reduce waste. Community led initiatives and entrepreneurial innovation can have an even bigger impact by creating new businesses and jobs.

food distribution

The most effective and cost-effective way to reduce emissions from water and waste is to use less water and produce less waste.

Because water in Southeast Florida is all connected, Miami-Dade County embraces the importance of a One Water approach for all aspects of water management. Efficient use of water helps protect ecosystems, prepare for sea level rise, secure our long-term water supply, and save money.


  • Water use per capita, gallons per day
  • Landfill waste generated per capita, tons per year
  • Percentage of paper, plastic, and metals recycled
Waste in Miami-Dade County comes from many sources: 25% is paper, 21% is from construction, 12% is metal, 11% is plastic, and 10% is food. Different tactics are needed to reduce each. The first step is to understand the waste stream better, which is why the Department of Solid Waste Management (DSWM) is completing a new communitywide solid waste characterization study which will be regularly updated. That data can be used to reduce the waste generated through partnerships with the private sector, education programs, and policies to discourage waste at the source.

Construction and demolition (C&D) waste is the material left over when buildings and infrastructure are torn down or constructed. Miami-Dade's development driven economy creates a lot of C&D waste like concrete, plaster, wood, and metal. Unfortunately, only 14% is recycled or reused. Best practices like requiring a waste management plan before demolition of a building could help reduce landfill waste. It will also create new jobs in deconstruction and recycling.

Goals & Objectives

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Reduce landfill waste per person 50% by 2030

Reduce water consumption per person 30% by 2030

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Save money

Reduce infrastructure costs

Enhance air quality

Reduce landfill waste

Protect Biscayne Bay

Expand food access

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Bold Actions

Create a community-wide food rescue plan in collaboration with community-based organizations, businesses, and farmers

Implement best practices to reduce and recycle construction and demolition waste, including requiring pre-construction waste management plans [Community Recommendation]

Complete a countywide solid waste characterization study and complete regular updates

Require waste reduction plans for all large events [Community Recommendation]

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Key Facts

Over 1/3 of food grown and prepared for people is thrown away

Residents, businesses, and hotels can receive rebates from the County for installing a high efficiency toilet ($50), showerhead ($25 or free), or faucet ($25 or free)

Construction debris is 21% of solid waste in the County

Food Recovery

Food is one area with great potential for waste reduction. Over 1/3 of food is never eaten. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency food recovery hierarchy identifies ways to avoid food waste, starting with reducing it at the source and feeding the nearly 10% of people in Miami-Dade who are food insecure – don't have enough to eat. In communities like Denver, Baltimore, and Alameda County, local governments have teamed up with community partners to rescue food waste before it is thrown out. For more information, check out NRDC’s Food Matters program. Food that cannot be eaten can be composted, reducing methane emissions, and creating soil.

USEPA Recovery Hierarchy

Water Conservation

Miami-Dade County’s Water and Sewer Department (WASD) is the largest water utility in the Southeastern United States. It provides water and wastewater services to most residents in the County, either directly or as a wholesale supplier to 15 municipalities. The Water Use Efficiency Plan has reduced daily water use by 14 million gallons per day, saving energy and infrastructure costs and reducing customer bills. WASD’s water conservation program provides rebates to residents and businesses for high efficiency toilets, faucets, and shower heads. It also provides landscaping tips and rain barrels.
water wisely

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