The problem with garbage fundamentally is there just is too much of it.Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels
In a Seattle Times article back in 2007, Nickels summed up the problem around waste management as it affects U.S. cities. Though the comment may be nearly a decade old, it still rings true, perhaps now more than ever, at time when climate change and its effects are top of mind. Furthermore, a 2013 study from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that recycling rates are beginning to increase nationwide as governments begin to tackle this complex waste issue. Here’s a look at a few items that showed an increased recycling rate from 2012-2013:
For years, major municipalities and mid-size towns have been thinking of ways to reduce the amount of trash in hopes of levelling mountain-sized landfills to flat landscapes. To help them meet this monumental challenge they are considering new technologies and new approaches.
Encouraging Composting and Making a Profit
10 years ago Seattle began to talk about how to deal with too much garbage, now the city is leading the charge as the first city in the nation to legally require composting as well as being the first city to publically disclose and even fine homeowners for not properly sorting their garbage.
Waste management contractors should note that Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center shows that outside of Seattle, 66% of the nation’s cities and towns are also thinking about plans that encourage composting or reusing waste.
Onvia’s Project Center reveals that many government agencies recognize turning waste “green” can definitely be more than a good, earthly deed but can also help the local economy and become a profitable activity.
Innovating the Trash Bin
It may come as a surprise, but even trash bin design and engineering can be innovative; municipalities are employing new technologies to aid in managing waste. One example of this is solar-powered trash compactors that help to ease operations costs and reduce overflows of trash.
Onvia’s Project Center shows evidence that local governments and public authorities are beginning to catch on to this trend with 36 solicitations and 25 awards for solar trash compactors in 2013 and 2014.
Another emerging trend is cities are buying trash bins with radio frequency identification (RFID) devices to link trash and recycling cans to owners, cut collection costs and encourage recycling. A search in Project Center found 99 solicitations and 22 awards in 2014.
Converting Landfill Gas to Energy
Whether preserving the earth or finding funds in citizen’s trash cans, companies have innovated in fascinating ways that are transforming the waste management industry; cities are even beginning to convert gas created from landfills to a sustainable source of energy. In Project Center there are 48 solicitations in the past two years for landfill gas to energy (LFGE) projects. During the same period local governments announced 24 awards. Contractors should note that the majority of LFGE bids & RFPs have been issued from county-level agencies.
The Waste Management Industry is Changing
Cities are interested in new technologies that can turn their waste into money, reduce their environmental impact and track their trash cans. The reality is that waste won’t disappear while at the same time environmental concerns are growing. Companies and state and local agencies realize this and are innovating the industry. Companies in the construction industry can find new opportunities as can firms that offer services to support day-to-day waste management operations and maintenance services. As advanced technology improves city trash collection and recycling efforts, even telecommunications and wireless companies can find their niche in garbage.