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    • First off from a design/user experience standpoint, those helpful colorful signs in your photo, which tell people what can be composted/recycled/land-filled, should be above the containers at eye level.

      Do they expect people to squat down to find out what’s what?!

      My favorite UX story is from a profile in the New Yorker of the architect of the Bilbao Museum in Spain. He was asked to redesign the main terminal for an airport. So at one point he’s wandering the terminal at night with a flashlight so that he can figure out the best user experience for the night watchmen. To me, that’s a master craftsman’s approach to good UX design.

    • "We can't trust that the general public or company employees will do a good job, so we will do it when we dump it, its nice that people care but most of the time it is just a waste of people's time or manpower." The driver responded

      Hmm, this town’s recycling center will obviously sort out trash that’s inadvertently been included, however, residents’ trash bins are emptied by garbage trucks and taken directly to the landfill. This is an investigation where they caught a truck dumping everything into it and then emptying trash and recycleables into the landfill.

      Cynical me says your friend caught them doing this and they made up their story to avoid getting reported to the city government.

    • We just have a single bin here for recycling but the big thing I'm trying to be mindful of now is that everything is clean and really belongs there because contamination is a big issue raising costs and even causing some places to stop taking it in.

    • Here in Germany, we typically have separate bins for compostables, paper, certain packaging materials and the rest, which is commonly sorted again and then burned instead of being sent to a landfill.

      These bins are collected on different schedules, meaning that no two types of waste are collected by the same truck.

      On top of that, there are often "recycling centers" nearby that allow dropping off certain types of waste for free (paper, metal, home appliances, fluorescent tubes, hazardous materials), and others for a very small fee.

      In my household, we additionally compost some of our kitchen waste (vegetable scraps only, no leftovers of prepared meals, no meat, no bread) in a garden compost ourselves, leading to less waste and a good amount of humus each gardening season.

    • Sounds familiar. In the early days of recycled waste collection in the UK, our particular county authority gave us bins for the following: paper/cardboard, glass, food waste and general. There was no green waste provision - a strange absence since we all mow the lawn, prune the roses etc.

      Many people were diligent in separating their waste this way. was discovered that all the types were being combined at the depot and sent to landfill. The whole thing was just a placebo so that ordinary folks could be satisfied that they were being environmentally friendly.

      Needless to say, it was a scandal. As a result, waste collection v2.0 was introduced with promises of proper process. Of course, we still don't really know what happens to the waste.

      It is a sad fact that every one of the UK's county councils has a different take on what to recycle and how. Some take food waste, for example, whilst others do not. Quite how this came to fall within local authority definition, and outside national edict, I cannot say. Until a common set of standards is imposed across the UK it looks like a recipe for failure.

      Of course, most councils sub contract waste collection and processing on long term contracts to private concerns, so this probably indicates that revolutionary change is a long way off for the UK....

    • I would expect the UK to be better in this department. I guess not?

      I do think what would help is if we can start using more biodegradable materials to make the products we use. That wouldn't solve all of our problems, but if we knew the products we were using could easily go back into the earth, that would be a huge step in the right direction.

      There have also been efforts to come up with plastic eating bacteria that can eat away at plastics and make them biodegradable as well. Steps like these are what it's going to take.

    • When you get into the technical aspects of recycling, you quickly realise the "common sense - quick fix" is not an option, and the real problem is the non-homogeneity of the packaging. Some of the plastic containers in which fruit is transported and sold is bio-degradable whilst some is not. Not only is this a feature between different products - it can occur within a single package of a particular product. This makes recycling difficult for the average consumer, who doesn't know which plastics they can recycle and which they cannot.

      Uniformity is the key, with all packaging of whatever sort being bio-degradable, as you say, and with no exceptions. The consumer does not, then have to analyse or sort their recycling; they just recycle everything.

      Importantly this also extends to the processors of waste material; they don't have to take the easy route to landfill because recycling would become far less onerous to process.

      But this cannot happen at the local level. I am not sure it would even happen at the national level. As it stands, the UK exports a lot of its waste to other parts of the world, such as China, As long as different countries have different recycling regimes, there would be a tendency to continue to do this rather than deal with the problem at home.

      No, some form of international accord is the only way forward....

    • As long as different countries have different recycling regimes, there would be a tendency to continue to do this rather than deal with the problem at home.

      No, some form of international accord is the only way forward....

      Oh, you mean like a trade deal that includes Climate Change actions that signing countries are required to implement?

      Tagging @Apocryphal 😉

    • Indeed. I realise how impossibly unrealistic that sounds, given the (very) limited success on climate change (e.g. USA never signing the original Kyoto protocol).

    • This is business problem that needs a business solution. The problem of waste has been around since at least the '70s, and there hasn't been any progress (in North America) because there isn't enough interest in it on the part of consumers. This is largely because consumers don't know or care what happens with their waste, so they don't make smart consumer choices when purchasing. And stores, and manufacturers, give the consumer what they (seem) to want.

      So, a product is made. It needs to be packaged to get it into the consumer stream. Consumers complain when their product arrives damaged, so it makes sense to over package things in order to protect them. This applies to everything from TVs (boxes, styrofoam inserts, plastic bags, twist ties, rubber bands, and cardboard) to apples (my wife likes the kind sold in bags rather than loose - they are shinier. The bag has a zip-lock which makes it impossible to recycle here).

      For the manufacturer, there's no consequence to over packaging. The package gets shipped to the store. The consumer takes it home. They put it in the municipal waste stream. The municipal waste stream ships it to South East Asia or somewhere. There's very little, if any, awareness in that stream of what comes next - the producers are too far removed from the end destination.

      Somehow, the cost of disposal needs to be passed back up the chain from the end to the beginning. Imagine, for example, what might happen if we all unpackaged our goods right there in the store and left the packaging behind for the store to deal with? I think that if we took steps like this, we'd start to see some actual change. We'd see more re-usable or biodegradable packaging, and less packaging in general.

    • My earth science self is distraught about plastics. I tell myself I never buy anything in plastic — no drinks, no produce in plastic, no plastic bags — but then I see articles like this from National Geographic that estimates 65% of plastics in the U.S. are from product packaging that is hard to avoid:

      The estimate is 5% of plastics in the U.S. get recycled.