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The 10 Cleanest Cities

The 10 Cleanest Cities
Cities are not exactly synonymous with cleanliness; so how to determine which are the closest to that ideal? Ireland and Australia have their annual Tidy Town competitions, but it takes more than an attractive square and an effective anti-litter campaign for large metropolitan areas to be considered tidy.Each year, the consulting, outsourcing and investment firm Mercer ranks cities worldwide in its . The 2010 survey crunched data from 221 cities. Drawing from this data, Mercer also compiles an e
Bob Stefko | Getty Images

Cities are not exactly synonymous with cleanliness; so how to determine which are the closest to that ideal? Ireland and Australia have their annual Tidy Town competitions, but it takes more than an attractive square and an effective anti-litter campaign for large metropolitan areas to be considered tidy.

Each year, the consulting, outsourcing and investment firm Mercer ranks cities worldwide in its Quality of Living Survey. The 2010 survey crunched data from 221 cities. Drawing from this data, Mercer also compiles an eco-ranking of the cities, taking into account water availability and drinkability, waste removal, sewage systems, air pollution and traffic congestion. Coming in at the bottom of that list were Muscat, Oman; Point-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe; and worst of all were Nagoya and Osaka in Japan, and Frankfurt, Germany in a three-way tie for last.

Now click ahead to see the ten cities that get it right: in descending order to No.1, the 10 Cleanest Cities worldwide.

By Colleen Kane
Posted 29 Dec 2010

Oslo, Norway
There is no industry in Oslo, so the city has good in the summer, though vehicular and heating emissions lower that quality in the winter. The city fares well in , following The Waste Management Strategy 2006 – 2009,  which diverts organic waste for treatment in a biogas plant, which is then transformed into fuel for city buses. Also, methane gas from the landfill is collected and converted to electricity.
Manchan | Photodisc | Getty Images

There is no industry in Oslo, so the city has good air quality in the summer, though vehicular and heating emissions lower that quality in the winter. The city fares well in waste management, following The Waste Management Strategy 2006 – 2009,  which diverts organic waste for treatment in a biogas plant, which is then transformed into fuel for city buses. Also, methane gas from the landfill is collected and converted to electricity.

Kobe,  Japan
ranks high on many quality - of - life factors,  such as life expectancy and literacy (the latter is almost 100%). Regarding cleanliness, the city boasts separate storm drainage from sewage so that heavy rains don’t affect waste treatment, and the well - designed road systems keep traffic moving steadily, ensuring less polluting emissions from backed-up traffic.
Yoshikazu Onishi | Sebun Photo | Getty Images

Koberanks high on many quality - of - life factors,  such as life expectancy and literacy (the latter is almost 100%). Regarding cleanliness, the city boasts separate storm drainage from sewage so that heavy rains don’t affect waste treatment, and the well - designed road systems keep traffic moving steadily, ensuring less polluting emissions from backed-up traffic.

Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is fresh off of a 15-year campaign to , put forward by Environment Minister Troels Lund Poulsen. Among his achievements in that time: designated environmental zones in large cities, tax breaks for diesel vehicles equipped with particle filters, and initiatives for cleaner boiler and furnace emissions. Denmark is now one of just three countries to meet and exceed the European Union’s requirements for minimizing dangerous particles in the air.
Scott R Barbour | Getty Images

Copenhagen is fresh off of a 15-year campaign to improve air quality, put forward by Environment Minister Troels Lund Poulsen. Among his achievements in that time: designated environmental zones in large cities, tax breaks for diesel vehicles equipped with particle filters, and initiatives for cleaner boiler and furnace emissions. Denmark is now one of just three countries to meet and exceed the European Union’s requirements for minimizing dangerous particles in the air.

Adelaide, Australia
The that the region has shifted away from reliance on landfills as part of its 2007 Strategic Plan. This is being implemented through legislation and encouraging sustainable development ,  as well as waste minimization and recycling.
Andrew Watson | Axiom Photographic Agency | Getty Images

The South Australia EPA reportsthat the region has shifted away from reliance on landfills as part of its 2007 Strategic Plan. This is being implemented through legislation and encouraging sustainable development ,  as well as waste minimization and recycling.

Minneapolis, Minn.
The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit rated the City of Minneapolis Water Department No. 10 among big American cities for the following criteria:
Anne Rippy | Getty Images

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Environmental Working Group rated the City of Minneapolis Water Department No. 10 among big American cities for the following criteria:

  • Total number of chemicals detected since 2004
  • Percentage of chemicals found of those tested
  • Highest average level for each pollutant
Wellington, New Zealand
New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment attributes the country’s good air quality to its remoteness, low population and proximity to the sea. For the 2009 -’10  period, Greater Wellington’s Regional Council reported levels of particulate matter in the air were  mostly “good,” and carbon monoxide concentrations were mostly “excellent,” owing to improved automotive technologies. Nitrogen dioxide levels were “good” to “excellent.”
Mikhail Esteves

New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment attributes the country’s good air quality to its remoteness, low population and proximity to the sea. For the 2009 -’10  period, Greater Wellington’s Regional Council reported levels of particulate matter in the air were  mostly “good,” and carbon monoxide concentrations were mostly “excellent,” owing to improved automotive technologies. Nitrogen dioxide levels were “good” to “excellent.”

Helsinki, Finland
The City of Helsinki that its emissions from power stations, industry and heating private residences have decreased considerably during the last decades, thanks to efficient cleaning equipment and cleaner fuels. The consolidation of energy production has been another factor in improving the local air quality.
Andrew Watson | Axiom Photographic Agency | Getty Images

The City of Helsinki reports on its website that its emissions from power stations, industry and heating private residences have decreased considerably during the last decades, thanks to efficient cleaning equipment and cleaner fuels. The consolidation of energy production has been another factor in improving the local air quality.

Ottawa, Canada
According to the website , Ottawa has remarkable water quality. In 2009, “all seven of the City’s drinking water facilities scored 100% in the quality of water delivered to taps across Ottawa.”
Grant V. Faint | Photodisc | Getty Images

According to the website OttawaStart, Ottawa has remarkable water quality. In 2009, “all seven of the City’s drinking water facilities scored 100% in the quality of water delivered to taps across Ottawa.”

Honolulu, Hawaii
While Hawaii in general has a unique air concern known as VOG (volcanic smog) that can affect health, Honolulu regularly makes lists of greenest and cleanest cities, and Sustain Lane ranked it the best city for air quality. Honolulu’s water is filtered through volcanic rock and is known to be free of the chlorine taste of other cities’ supplies. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group, based in Washington, D.C., rated the No. 6 among big American cities for the following criteria:
Todd Lee | Istock

While Hawaii in general has a unique air concern known as VOG (volcanic smog) that can affect health, Honolulu regularly makes lists of greenest and cleanest cities, and Sustain Lane ranked it the best city for air quality.

Honolulu’s water is filtered through volcanic rock and is known to be free of the chlorine taste of other cities’ supplies. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group, based in Washington, D.C., rated the Honolulu Board of Water SupplyNo. 6 among big American cities for the following criteria:

  • Total number of chemicals detected since 2004
  • Percentage of chemicals found of those tested
  • Highest average level for each pollutant
Calgary, Canada
That holds the No. 1 position on this list is even more impressive considering Calgary’s province Alberta actually leads Canada in per capita waste: 2174 pounds per person. Facing a rapid economic and population expansion, Alberta revamped its sanitation system in the past two years with the Too Good to Waste program, which aims to decrease the amount of waste sent to landfills. Additional efforts were being made to reduce construction and demolition waste through training, increasing recycling
Uyen Le | Getty Images

That Calgaryholds the No. 1 position on this list is even more impressive considering Calgary’s province Alberta actually leads Canada in per capita waste: 2174 pounds per person. Facing a rapid economic and population expansion, Alberta revamped its sanitation system in the past two years with the Too Good to Waste program, which aims to decrease the amount of waste sent to landfills. Additional efforts were being made to reduce construction and demolition waste through training, increasing recycling of materials (such as wood, asphalt, drywall, shingles and concrete), as well as financial incentive and disincentive programs.