Waste of the Week #15

It seems like every time I walk around in Northern Liberties, there’s a waste-related oddity that catches my eye.  I’d walk around there more often, but it sucks there.  I think it’s just because it reminds me of downtown West Chester, which was by far the worst place I’ve ever lived in my life.

Then again, I have to thank West Chester too. If it wasn’t for its godawful lameness, I wouldn’t have spent so much time studying trash and might have wasted my time partying like nearly everyone else instead.

I guess now it’s a good time to plug West Chester University’s Environmental Health program… loved it.  Dr. Sheehan, Dr. Shorten: thank you.

Anyway, this appears to be a normal waste receptacle… one side for trash (which doesn’t encompass much these days, does it?), the other for recycling.  Did the City get wire mesh cans that are split in half now?  Let’s take a look:

Doesn’t look that way, does it?  Let’s see here… we ask the disposer to segregate their materials into either hole, but it goes into the same can anyway.  This is a great example of how to make the public uncertain of what happens to their waste.  “I don’t recycle anymore, it all gets trashed anyway.  What’s the point?  Waste of time.”

If you are employed in the field of waste handling, you know that this is pure hell.  Nothing is worse than developing a recycling program, only to have your coworkers hear the great things your department is doing and then see evidence pointing to the contrary, falsely or not.  In other words, teach others about what goes on internally behind the scenes…most people won’t care, but those who listen will appreciate it and reinforce the mission.

The situation above makes people feel powerless and indifferent…all zero people that opened the lid and looked in, that is.  I know I tend to feel that way from time to time.  If 100 people disposed of their plastic bottles into a can labeled recycling, and then whoever services the can trashes it, they just deceived 100 people.

However, if the contents of this can are sent to a material recovery facility, hopefully the material will stand a shot and get separated and sold back to manufacturers.

This can clearly suffers from the Big Belly dilemma, as I like to call it (I need to register that phrase on Urban Dictionary or something).  If you know what Big Belly compactors in action look like, then you know what I mean already.

There’s a cutout for the “Recyclables”, but no hole on the “Dechets/Trash” side.  No one (myself included) wants to grab the Big Belly handle to put waste in the trash compactor, but they’ll gladly put it into the open hole on the Recycling side.  Same applies here.

Any guesses where the waste is going that’s placed in this can?

One thought on “Waste of the Week #15”

  1. Love this new post Tyler- great point that examples like these erode trust in the City’s program and undermines success in recycling. If they were sending it to a dirty murph, I would hope that there would at least be some attempt at educating the public…. hope that the architect of this program makes an effort to audit their own efforts.

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