Tracking trash

Phithakkitnukoon, Santi; Wolf, Malima I.; Offenhuber, Dietmar; Lee, David; Biderman, Assaf and Ratti, Carlo (2013). Tracking trash. IEEE Pervasive Computing, 12(2) pp. 38–48.



Using active self reporting tags we were able to follow the journey of 2,000 objects through the waste management system of Seattle. We used this data to define measures of efficiency for what could be called the ‘removal chain’. We found that over 95% of the traces reached a compliant end destination. However, there were concerns with special categories of waste (cellphones, e-waste, and household hazardous waste) and specific geographic locations (trash from Bellevue and Redmond in particular did not follow the recommended best practices). We believe that similar studies may increase knowledge and systemic performance of waste management systems and, at a personal level, reduce the ‘out of sight out of mind’ attitude to trash.

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