It’s Time to Deal With Trash! Rethinking Waste Management

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Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the methods of waste management currently deployed in New York, the challenges and strains they put on city infrastructure and resources, and the means to overcome the challenges.
  • Grasp the key components of urban waste management and how systems can be overhauled by applying best practices based on research from global case studies.
  • Memorize the three C's of urban waste management: Circulate, Contain, and Compost.

More Course Details

New York City's outdated and inefficient management of an ever-increasing volume of trash is a major obstacle to a vibrant public realm. The Center for Zero Waste Design and WXY have outlined a plan — Put Waste to Work: For Vibrant Streetscapes, Green Jobs, and Healthy Neighborhoods — to get trash bags off sidewalks and compost into soils. It contains strategies for circulating materials so reuse and repair precede disposal; compacting and containing waste so sidewalks are clean, with fewer rodents and trucks; and composting organic waste to regenerate soils and support green spaces and urban agriculture.

"Trash equity" is real. Under-resourced communities suffer most from litter and pests that contribute to asthma and undermine mental health. Waste infrastructure is disproportionately located in lower-income, nonwhite communities. Planning for better waste management, reuse, and composting can reduce strain and make communities more resilient.

Learn about the most successful strategies from global cities and see how they fit in with best practices for streetscape design and management. Most cities were designed for linear resource flows: goods in, and garbage out. What will it take to redesign them for distributed and circular resource flows and promote equity, climate, livability, and resiliency goals?