Beyond the Bin - The Bigbelly Blog

Bigbelly Blog - Beyond the Bin

Measuring the Success of Public Space Recycling Programs

Posted by Leila Dillon on 11/16/15 12:41 PM

Your town or city recently implemented a public space recycling program. After much planning, how will town officials know if it needs adjustment? If it is ready for expansion? If it is working as efficiently and effectively as planned?

Measurement of course will help to determine the program’s impact. The measurements extend well beyond knowing the location and number of recycling containers in public spaces. It requires data turned into information used by all parties involved – Department of Public Works, neighborhood or district improvement groups, waste and recycling haulers, and town and city officials.

Knowing how the overall program performs as well as metrics about the efficacy of each container helps demonstrate the program’s benefits and aids in strengthening community support.

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Topics: Urban Waste Management, Community, Recycling, Municipality, Core City Services

Public Space Recycling Programs On the Rise

Posted by Leila Dillon on 10/16/15 2:24 PM

What are public spaces? They are indoor/outdoor attraction centers, and highly visible commerce areas that have unique features that add to city livability. They are diverse and can be found in downtown areas, on the outskirts, or as a feature of a specific neighborhood. Wherever they are, they attract the public. When linked to city infrastructure, public spaces are promoted by tourism departments as valuable enhancements to the town: from transit hubs, airports, and recreation centers to parks, playgrounds, and sidewalks.

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Topics: Urban Waste Management, Community, Recycling, Municipality

Refuse Haulers are Doing More than Cleaning Streets

Posted by Leila Dillon on 8/12/15 2:09 PM

We have all been there at some point…stuck in our car behind a garbage truck as it makes frequent stops to collect waste and recycling. We see and smell the dark plumes of exhaust released from these loud, diesel-powered trucks. We might even wonder if there is a more environmentally friendly way to collect garbage.

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Topics: Urban Waste Management, Resiliency, Recycling, Municipality

Every Month is Plastic Free Month

Posted by Leila Dillon on 7/23/15 10:34 AM

Did you know it’s Plastic Free July? Have you taken the challenge to reduce the amount of plastic you use, specifically single-use plastic? If not, a few weeks remain in the challenge. However, there’s little reason to not continue to adopt changes for the long term. It’s an effort many cities would applaud!

Cities and towns worldwide are banning plastic – from plastic bags to single-use plastic and Styrofoam containers. The reasons vary from sustainability inaititives to cutting waste management costs. A recent example that you may have heard in the media was New York City's ban of expanded polystyrene foam which cannot be recycled and cause environemntal harm.

There’s a groundswell of effort focused on educating and raising awareness of the amount of single-use disposable plastic in daily life. Organizations like Plastic Free July are also challenging people to do something about it by simply reducing their use of single-use plastic. For many people, the first step – a rather easy one – is to avoid plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups, and straws. 

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Topics: Urban Waste Management, Community, Recycling

Urban Organic Waste – Diamond in the Rough

Posted by Leila Dillon on 7/6/15 10:02 AM

Recycling organic products and materials reduces the accumulation of organics in the city. Think that ripe not so sweet smell wafting through city alleyways or trash bins...

By separating organics from landfill garbage, cities can recycle those nutrients to create a ‘fertilizer’ waste stream that can be used by urban victory gardeners and commercial farmers who grow larger scale volumes of produce. Urban public space composting embodies our favorite 3 R's - reduce, reuse, recycle. Some communities are creating public composting sites and offering organic waste bins on sidewalks and in parks to encourage organic waste recycling. In turn, this organic matter can be converted to commercial products while decreasing landfill waste and boosting the economic gain.

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Topics: Urban Waste Management, Community, Recycling, Municipality

Public Space Waste: From Eyesore To Amenity

Posted by Arthur Braunstein on 7/2/15 10:12 AM

A few days ago, a customer turned a phrase that embodies what Bigbelly does with surgical precision and profound understanding.

I was relating to her a personal experience. To celebrate a family milestone, we and our close friends visited a local restaurant with streetside dining. At the restaurant, we selected the perfect outdoor table to enjoy the warming spring weather. Halfway through the meal, one of our friends pointed towards the street and joyfully asked: isn't that one of your Bigbellys? In fact, we were sitting less than ten feet from a Bigbelly waste and recycling station. And people were using it.

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Topics: From Arthur's Laptop, Urban Waste Management, Community

14 Ways to Improve Community Recycling Rates

Posted by Leila Dillon on 7/1/15 5:56 PM

There’s a lot to be said about improving municipal recycling efforts. It helps to keep public spaces clean, eradicate pest problems, and provide measurable environmental benefits by waste diversion from landfills. Towns can also reduce tipping costs and other expenses related to waste disposal, and increase credits recycling incentive programs.

"Even in small cities, the returns from an efficient recycling program can have quite an impact," according to the EPA. Participation in urban recycling can be challenging but it’s often due in part to the programs in place. We know that city recycling programs need to appeal to a large and diverse population. Programs focused on increasing participating help to improve recycling rates. Below are a few interesting recycling stats from the EPA's latest national survey in 2009, as reported by our friends at Keep America Beautiful:

  • Americans recovered 34% of waste generated in 2009.
  • About 9,000 curbside residential recycling programs existed in the US that year.
  • The 34% diverted waste equaled 82 million tons of recycled material.
  • This national wide recycling behavior reduced CO2 emissions in a mass equal to removing 33 million passenger vehicles from the roads.
  • The US recycling industry workforce is comprised of 1.1 million employees, generating over $236 billion in annual revenue.
  • The recyclable materials left in the US landfill waste stream would have amounted to over $7 billion if properly recycled.
  • There was 3 pounds of trash per person per day thrown away into the landfill waste stream; that is enough trash to circle the earth 24 times.

(Statistics sourced from Keep America Beautiful.)

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Topics: Urban Waste Management, Community, Recycling, Municipality

Urban Waste Management is No Laughing Matter

Posted by Leila Dillon on 6/24/15 2:25 PM

Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus were laughing it up during a recent episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Their banter was not at all focused on urban blight but as they walked the streets you cannot help but notice how clean the streets were. Beautification and keeping public spaces clean is a top priority for most cities and towns. However, it is not always an easy task. The conditions and issues of urban waste management vary from one municipality to the next and often from one neighborhood to another just down the block.

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Topics: Urban Waste Management, Community, Recycling, Municipality

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