Saturday, September 17, 2011

Urban Waste Management

It doesn't matter what city you are in you will likely see litter strewn across your urban landscape.  Some cities may be in better shape than others, this may be due to better due diligence and budgets for waste management. 

This may include procedures to ensure that civic employees check waste receptacles regularly and change out full waste receptacles or replace ripped bags.  This helps as the waste receptacles in a cities core can fill up quickly, and once full people will still add waste on top.  This waste is easy picking for a gust of wind which will spread the contained mess.  Which scenario do you think will take more effort and cost more money; changing out all the waste in one garbage bag or paying someone to clean the waste scattered across the city?  Why do more work when your citizens are willing to do the majority of the work themselves by placing the waste into the correct receptacle.

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On that note another way for cities to help manage their waste is to choose the appropriate waste receptacles.  As an example of a poorly chosen waste receptacle we shall turn to the minimalistic waste receptacles at the outdoor LRT station platforms in downtown Calgary.  Quite often due to podium-less design of downtown Calgary's towers, huge wind tunnels are created.  These wind tunnels pass by the garbage receptacles and invert the contents onto the streets.  I realize the minimalism of these receptacles is to help mitigate terrorist threats as you can see if any bomb has been placed in the transparent garbage bag, however the proper receptacle should be chosen to eliminate this avoidable occurrence.  These garbage bags should at the very least be weighted down.

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Most waste receptacles are built with an opening on the top for waste disposal, however this also generates the unwanted behavior of people digging through the contents.  This leads the way for those less fortunate to start digging through them for income earning drink bottles.  One way to avoid this is to again choose the proper receptacle.  The proper receptacle would close off the waste contents to outside interaction by using a hinged opening with a double wall similar to those on a vending machine opening that helps prevent theft.  Such receptacles have already been installed in Cochrane. 

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The ultimate way to ensure that the garbage stays off your streets would be for your city to install a suction powered garbage line tied into the garbage receptacles similar to those already installed in places like Sweden, and the one proposed for the City Centre Airport development in Edmonton.  These lines would be powered by powerful vacuums and would act similar to sewage lines instantly transporting your waste to the waste processing facility.  This sort of system would ensure that any waste that you place in a trash receptacle is instantly taken to the waste facility and is guaranteed to be kept of your street.  Another bonus of such a system is that you do not have large unappealing garbage trucks driving around collected garbage.  Such a system would see significant reductions in cost due to less wear on your city streets, less waste clean-up, and fuel and maintenance for garbage pick-up trucks.