City Action Plan

A City Action Plan addresses a wide range of short and long-term measures, with the aim of preventing plastic from entering the environment, waterways, and ultimately, the ocean.

TARGET USERS: Government

KEY CONSIDERATIONS: A well-developed City Action Plan on plastic requires a holistic approach that identifies target problems, engages local stakeholders and implements solutions.

MORE INFORMATION: See the PSC City Action Plan Template, and the city action plans for Amsterdam, Oslo, Dubrovnik, and Trojir


While cities adapt to account for a two-thirds global population increase by 2050, they must continue to adopt smart solutions that reduce the collective impact of their prospering communities. These solutions must entail planning for the prevention, minimization and management of plastic waste generated in urban populations.


A well-developed City Action Plan on plastic waste is critical to ensuring a sustainable, healthy, and inclusive global community. To create such a plan, first, we must take inventory by assessing our local waste stream (see our Smart Guide on Baseline Assessments), collecting hard data to guide our city strategy. Second, we must commit resources and develop a comprehensive strategy to educate, motivate and mandate – both individuals and industry – to adopt waste prevention strategies that reduce the volume of waste that must be collected and managed at the local level. Third, we must employ a scalable waste management program that adheres to the universal waste hierarchy, understanding that the largest initial gains in reducing pollution can often come from improving waste collection and processing methods.

While cities will rapidly increase their populace to account for two-thirds of the global population by 2050, they must adopt smart solutions that reduce the collective impact of their prospering communities. This means preventing, minimizing and managing plastic waste, by adopting a comprehensive strategy that changes attitudes and behaviors through actions that educate, motivate and mandate, when necessary:

Educate through public awareness efforts to encourage behavioral change. Creating awareness among the general public as well as the business community is fundamental to changing behavior and attitudes about the way people consume resources and generate waste. Sharing practical information and guiding tools about how individuals or companies can prevent and reduce waste in their daily lives, is a critical first step.

Motivate through measures that incentivize change or disincentivize status-quo. Motivating strategies often provoke actions by incentivizing people to make behavioral changes that support waste prevention. The strongest stimulus is the polluter pays principle, which places all costs for the environmentally sound management of generated waste onto the waste generator. Fees, management prices, or appropriate schemes of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) are possible instruments.

Mandate change through regulatory action. Regulatory strategies addressing waste prevention can take many forms such as enforcing bans on the use of single-use plastics (strict avoidance) as well as imposing limits on the volume of waste generated (source reduction) by certain industrial activities. With industry at the helm of making design and production decisions that affect all other product life-cycle stages, industry is often a target for regulatory strategies. Sustainable design requirements, producer responsibility initiatives, environmental controls through permitting and take-back mandates are all examples of regulatory strategies.

For more information, see the Plastic Smart Cities Smart Guide on City Action Plans.


City of Amsterdam

On June 20, 2019 the City of Amsterdam signed a letter of intent in which Amsterdam became the first city in the world to commit to becoming plastic smart.

Amsterdam pledged to develop an innovative, feasible action plan that will lead to a clean and healthy situation without plastic pollution by 2030. The city will involve key sectors and local stakeholders in the approach and will evaluate policies, services and financing in order to prevent plastic waste and offer circular solutions.

The program “Amsterdam Plastic Smart City” gives substance to this:

By always keeping in mind why we do it: a healthy, clean, sustainable, circular future.
By realizing that education is an indispensable lever for this.
By focusing on the sensible use of plastic throughout the entire chain.
By using the power of the Amsterdam community: residents of all ages, entrepreneurs, employees in all sectors, schools, social initiatives.
By doing it together. We embrace other people’s ideas. We see ourselves primarily as a director, connector, initiator, inspirer, facilitator and stimulator. And, if necessary, a go-getter.
By keeping our eyes open: we are inspired by best practices implemented in cities around the world.
By making the results measurable and sharing our outcomes.
By setting an ambitious short-term target: a 30% reduction in plastic pollution on land and in water by 2023.
By propagating our plan and celebrating successes.
For more information, see Amsterdam’s City Action Plan.

City of Oslo

Together, the City of Oslo and its inhabitants will contribute to sustainable development that takes care of Oslo as a coastal city and protects its values ​​for future generations by encouraging innovative and smart solutions that can be scaled up and further developed.

In order for Oslo to succeed in the effort to reduce the unnecessary use of plastic and disposable single-use articles, they have committed to a holistic approach that takes into account several sectors, while at the same time cooperating with actors within the field of waste management.

The overall goal of the City Action Plan is:

To reduce the unnecessary use of plastic and disposable items in Oslo
To prevent marine pollution
To clean-up the inner Oslofjord
Key directions for circular governance in Oslo’s City Action Plan, include:

Cooperation with different stakeholders to create a stronger sense of ownership of the plan’s content and consequently a stronger commitment to its objectives.
Development of a framework that ensures results are effectively measured and effects of adopted measures are evaluated.
Anchoring of the action plan is made at a high level to ensure political commitment and follow-up of measures are carried out.
The City has also hired full-time staff to coordinate and follow-up the action plan and its measures, as well as a resource group responsible for internal efforts and reviewing the plan every second year.

The City has also put in place a mechanism for funding projects/initiatives which contribute to the goals of the action plan. There is a high focus on cooperation both internally and with external actors, both of the private sector, NGOs and others.

In 2020, the City will audit the action plan and update its contents for a new period starting 2021.

For more information, see the City of Oslo’ Action Plan to Reduce Plastic Pollution.

City of Dubrovnik

The City of Dubrovnik formally adopted the first plan of actions to tackle its plastic pollution by 2026, including key measures to reduce waste production and improve waste collection and disposal.

The Plan signed by Mayor Mato Franković was developed in collaboration with the Association for Nature, Environment and Sustainable Development Sunce and WWF, as part of the Plastic Smart Cities Initiative.

The city has committed to take measures and actions that will reduce its amount of disposed plastic waste by 30% in a pilot area by 2022, and by 55% at the city level by 2025.

For more information, see the City of Dubrovnik’s City Action Plan.

City of Trogir

At a two-day workshop held at the City Hall of Trogir on June 28 and 29, the City of Trogir officially adopted the Action Plan for Reducing Plastic Pollution for 2021 – 2026, which includes the implementation of measures and activities to reduce the leakage of plastic waste into the environment. It is the second city in Croatia, after Dubrovnik, to adopt such a plan.

For more information, see the City of Trojir’s City Action Plan.


In addition to creating an Action Plan, cities can participate in City Waste Rating Programs, develop Public Awareness Initiatives and promote Youth-led Initiatives.

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