As Summer sets and Autumn creeps in, its time to reflect back on all those wasteful news stories that made us laugh, cry, or shrug in indifference. Without further ado, here is your August Waste & Recycling News Roundup:

The Future of Garbage Sucks


The island’s trash ends up in a facility on the north end where it is carried out by truck or railcar.

Plunked right in the middle of Manhattan’s East River is Roosevelt Island, a small 147 acre strip of land home to some 12,000 people. It looks just like any other corner of NYC, yet you won’t find any garbage trucks barreling down its streets. Instead, the island is hooked up to a sprawling subterranean system of pneumatic tubes that collects all the island’s trash into a central compaction unit. Residents of the island have only to drop their trash down a chute where it is then sucked away by the Automatic Vacuum Assisted Collections System’s 1,000 horsepower engine. If that sounds like some high-concept science fiction gadget, consider that this system has been in operation since 1976!

The Ocean is Very Salty About Being Dirty


The current design for one of Boyan Slat’s ocean filters.

Wunderkin Boyan Slat, whom you might remember as the guy who aims to clean up the Pacific (YouTube), has just
completed his Mega Expedition to map the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and the findings are less than stellar. The expedition’s fleet of 30 ships discovered far more pieces of large floating debris than previous estimates predicted, increasing the resolve of Slat’s Ocean Cleanup organization to deploy a massive filtration system in the ocean by 2020. But before that happens, the group must first deploy its coastal pilot system in the Tsushima Strait off the Japanese coast. With any luck, they’ll be able to find that pair of flip-flops I dropped in San Francisco Bay back in ’98.

No Trash Can for You!


A trash can-less station on the MTA subway.

This post is big enough for two stories out of NYC. Back in 2011, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
(MTA) launched a pilot program to explore the potential benefits of removing trash cans from both above ground and underground subway stations. Surprisingly, litter rates have barely gone up in pilot stations, while rodent activity and track fires have decreased compared to stations that retained their trash cans. Loose newspapers and other flammable materials are a serious fire hazard for subway systems, and even a small drop in track fires is seriously good news for New York’s subway. So the next time you’re non-fat soy cappafrappacino latte cup runs dry, hang onto it until the next stop. You’re fellow subway riders will thank you with a nod and a knowing smile (probably won’t be that explicit, but good on you anyways!).