Eco-Waste Management: North West Pioneers

Eco-Waste Management: North West Pioneers

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Every day, tons of usable waste is discarded, left only to rot in landfills rather than be reused for things such as compost rejuvenation and/or power options. Making it more convenient or regulating that citizens comply with eco-waste management seems the only two ways a mainstream mindset may grasp the concept. This is a short look into some current eco-waste management techniques and applications that The New York Times recently reported as happening in San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. Because of these efforts, more cities and states are becoming leaders in eco-waste management and diversion.

Portland: Bi-Weekly Pickup Encourages Residents to Change

This year the city of Portland, Oregon continued its march toward higher energy solutions by implementing a bi-weekly garbage pickup. Most would think that this would simply cause mayhem in the way of more garbage, curbside eyesore and, most importantly, an unbearable smell. It turns out that this bi-weekly pickup had an ulterior motive besides saving approximately $6.5 million dollars per year. It wanted to encourage residents to recycle and compost more of their trash rather than blindly discard it. Turns out the experiment is working with a whopping 44% reduction in landfill addition. This is a perfect example of diverting residents into doing something when they may have otherwise not done so.

San Francisco: Decades Long Efforts Head Toward Zero Waste

This city has announced a ‘zero waste’ goal with an infrastructure in place which will soon enable it to reach 85% completion, according to the deputy director of the SF Department of the Environment. Currently San Francisco uses 78% of its waste stream compared to the national average of 34%. This obviously has not happened overnight with its inception rooted in the early 1970’s when recycling cardboard and newspapers became a first. It slowly implemented plastic, glass, aluminum, etc. and is now incorporating compost of food scraps and yard debris. Once the compost is completed it is either sold or given back to the residents for their own use.

Seattle: New Waste Space and Poo-Power

A new waste transfer station has been opened with a much larger floor area where a variety of waste, including construction debris, can be sorted. The interesting thing about this new structure is that it was built with aesthetics in mind as opposed to the depressing, industrial buildings often relegated to such a job. It incorporates old signs along its entranceway, landscape irrigated with catch water designs, odor reducing mist practices and plenty of large windows for natural light to lower electricity, keep up morale and use for waste decomposition. Other additions include curbside bins for diapers and pet waste to be transferred to anaerobic digesters to produce power.

Nothing is perfect as these cities struggle to convince their citizens to embrace eco-waste management rather than expect the local authorities to remedy it. Some people are still resistant, letting ignorance trump education, but hopefully in due time all cities will follow San Francisco, Portland and Seattle’s lead as socially conscious eco-waste management progression.


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