Managing waste through design
While the percentage of people residing in cities and towns is continually rising, with an estimated 80 percent of the world’s population living in urban areas in the years to come, the dilemma of urban waste persists and is not being addressed (Rynska, et al., 2016, pp.199).
Concurrently, increased standards of living imply increased rates of resource use, with severe consequences for the urban environment and its environs. Possibly the most pressing concern is the unending production of waste, which exceeds the capacity of local governments to handle. Even the wealthiest and most powerful governments are actively attempting to address the issues of large quantity of waste, and the expenses associated with developing technologies and procedures to address these (Zhou et al., 2020).
So, what strategies can be used from an urban designer’s perspective to manage waste?
It is important to think about waste management as a communal commodity. If considered so, then its accessibility becomes critical, as this will allow for appropriate disposal and recycling. It is therefore crucial that communal waste receptacles, or submerged receptacles, are scattered evenly on the public realm. It is also important that these are recognizable and accessible from the curb, to allow for their unloading (K+C et al., 2017). To motivate residents as well as tourists to take responsibility of waste management, it is also important to incentivise them to play their role through ways of making garbage disposal an opportunity, rather than a crisis. Designers have come up with a variety of ways to make the mundane task of throwing something away into something playful, encouraging and reminding people of all ages the importance of not littering. Ikea, for instance, has developed some exciting and playful schemes to do just that.
To establish waste managing strategies at a local level, there are several ways this can be done. For instance, communities could establish a loading zone at the foot of properties that can also be used by neighbouring infrastructure. Similarly, another option could be to set up a central collection station with many compactor receptacles that are used among users of numerous buildings (Vallero, 2011). A pneumatic tube system, that connects properties to a central hub is another similar, but equally as efficient, way to manage waste in a neighbourhood (K+C et al., 2017) (Zhou et al., 2020).
Although waste may sound like a trivial issue, it is an important product of our day to day lives that we must not overlook when designing urban spaces.
– K+C, ClosedLoops and Foodprint Group (2017) Policy, Research and Implmentation Recommendations. Zero Waste Design Guidelines. Available at: https://www.zerowastedesign.org/03-collection-and-urban-design/b-collection-urban-design-best-practice-strategies/ (accessed 08/04/22)
– Rynska, E., Oniszk-Poplawska, A. & Kozminska, U. (2016) Quality of Resilient Cities, the Issue of Urban Waste: Waste Management as Part of Urban Metabolism. IGI Global: Publisher of Timely Knowledge.
– Vallero, D. (2011) ‘Risk Assessment, Management, and Accountability’ in (ed.) Letcher, M. & Vallero, D. Waste: A Handbook for Management. Academic Press.
– Zhou, X., Wang, M., Deng, D & Li, X. (2020) Design and Construction of Urban Waste Intelligent Treatment System.Web of Conferences.