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Pneumatic-Based Trash Disposal System Eyed in NYC

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GTOlover
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Neat idea, but quadruple the cost.
GTOlover   10/21/2013 10:38:33 AM
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This is actually a neat idea. Sort of reminds me of the little chutes you use at the drive up bank teller. Stick your money into the little transport shuttle, put it in the tube, and 'swoop' your money is gone! Sort of like this garbage idea.

Only thing I would change, this is NY politics so the cost estimate is probably quadruple the $10 to $11 million!

Elizabeth M
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Re: Neat idea, but quadruple the cost.
Elizabeth M   10/22/2013 5:05:44 AM
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That's exactly the idea behind the technology, GTOlover. It's exactly that sort of pneumatic system it's modeled on. You're probably right about the politics, but I think it's a pretty good idea.

apresher
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Logistics
apresher   10/21/2013 4:53:19 PM
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I can't even imagine the logistics in trying to make this happen in NYC. Not to mention to politics as well.

Charles Murray
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Re: Logistics
Charles Murray   10/21/2013 6:01:36 PM
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I agree, Al. Doing it in a crowded, highly-built-up city like New York is mind-boggling. Then again, it's been done previously in Barcelona, Paris and London, which must be equally complex.  

Elizabeth M
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Re: Logistics
Elizabeth M   10/22/2013 5:21:05 AM
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Yes, that was my previous point, Chuck. I didn't read your comment before I commented. I think it would be difficult and complex, but manageable if the right type of people were handling the logistics. But that could be a tall order when so much bureacracy is involved. Miller was quite knowledgeable, though, and well spoken, and seemed to have a good handle on the logistics having been the policy manager for the sanitation department already. If he thinks it could work, I would tend to agree with him.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Logistics
Elizabeth M   10/22/2013 5:10:58 AM
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Yes, Al, I'm sure it would be a big mess, but it has been done in other cities in an incremental way--even in London, near Wembley--so I think it could be possible. It would have to happen the way Miller describes, with different Lego-type branches the eventually will connect.

apresher
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System in NYC
apresher   10/21/2013 6:55:05 PM
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Chuck,  Since you're a Chicago guy, you know about all of the "systems" that are under the city of Chicago.  Can't imagine how to deal with that complexity.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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WOW! .... What a STUPENDOUS Idea!
OLD_CURMUDGEON   10/22/2013 10:36:56 AM
Having worked in the NYC metro area for several years, and continuing to hear of all the shenanigans that goes on in their local politics, I think the BEST place to "test" as system such as this would be to put the FIRST capture port @ the steps of City Hall.  The first load of garbage the system collects could be all the politicians who are exiting the chamber!!!!!

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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History shows "acceptance" is the challenge
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   10/22/2013 12:34:15 PM
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Every new idea or technology always has two hurdles to overcome: Feasibility and Acceptance.

This system is clearly feasible as evidenced by hundreds of thousands of drive-up banks and pharmacies. Only the scale has to change, as the pipe diameters and the back-pressure would be increased.

Acceptance (Politics) is almost always harder than Feasibility (Engineering), which has been shown to be true in countless examples in history; looking backward: cellular networks, Interstate highways, telephone lines, electricity grids, indoor plumbing. Why do people always show such resistance to obvious beneficial advancements-?

Elizabeth M
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Re: History shows "acceptance" is the challenge
Elizabeth M   10/23/2013 5:18:14 AM
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I think you're right, JimT, and as another reader pointed out, there would probably be a big backlash from labor unions on this worried about lost jobs--they would definitely try to find a way to either block or supplement jobs somehow, which would demand negotiations, compromises and definitely stall the project. I know what you mean about people showing resistance--it's a bit frustrating, but I guess I understand, since it's something new and unknown, and people often fear what they don't know. Also, it's not surprising people with sanitation jobs in the old system might worry about what would happen to them in a new system.

Tool_maker
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Cost Savings?
Tool_maker   10/22/2013 12:48:16 PM
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  I find it hard to believe the payback on something like this would ever be realized. As an earlier poster said, $10-$11 million wil probably be quadrupled." Then you have the sanatation workers union which would probably demand and get an observer at every inlet, discharge and junction along the way. How would that square with replacing a system that is already bought and paid for?

  Each system will require maintenance and I think it will be cheaper to work on a truck as opposed to finding someone willing to crawl through a network of tubes etc. I can see how people would abuse such a system and try and cram all matter of things down an inlet and bring the whole thing to a screaming halt.

GTOlover
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Re: Cost Savings?
GTOlover   10/22/2013 1:56:42 PM
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Tool_maker brings up a good point. How do you keep people from stuffing any thing they do not want into the system. My understanding is the garbage is placed into canisters that are then sent down the tubes. But has anyone noticed how dumpsters are some times stuffed with couches, televisions, or broken chairs? How is recycling handled? Seperate canisters that get routed down seperate tubes? Hazardous wastes?

To some degree, though they are far from perfect, the sanitation workers have the option to leave the crap that is not allowed on people's front door.

As far as maintenance, Design News has covered a lot of robots that can fit into tubes and pipes. These would be the tools used for tube checking and un-clogging duty.

mrdon
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Re: Cost Savings?
mrdon   10/23/2013 1:08:06 AM
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GTOlover

I like the concept of using robots to unclogged the pipes. Design News has written many articles on snake like robots that could easily manuever and clean the inside of pipes. Seems like a new industry for waste disposal and management systems might be born with this proposed New York system.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Cost Savings?
Elizabeth M   10/23/2013 5:06:23 AM
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That's a good idea, mrdon, and you're right, there are robots capable of this. I think one thing at a time, though! It might be difficult enough to get the pneumatic trash system in place, let alone introduce robots into it! But it's good to be thinking ahead like this.

mrdon
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Re: Cost Savings?
mrdon   10/23/2013 12:49:58 PM
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Elizabeth M

Thanks for the feedback. Yes, your absolutely correct about taking continuous improvement steps for the Pneumatic Based Trash Disposal System. Its better to develop the system in chucks(subsystems) as opposed to the complete build. It minimizes systems errors as well as NRE (Non-Recurring Enginering) costs.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Cost Savings?
Elizabeth M   10/23/2013 5:14:56 AM
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I see your point, GTOLover, but I think maybe the size of the bins would preclude anyone from stuffing unwanted items down there. But I'm not sure. And as I said in a previous comment, the robot search teams are a great idea if this system was put into place.

Tool_maker
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Re: Cost Savings?
Tool_maker   10/23/2013 10:57:31 AM
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@GTOlover: Of course you are correct about the robotic maintenance and I am embarassed that I did not think of that. There are millions of miles of pipe lines that are maintained thusly.

  Your point about recycling is a good one. Today many people do not recycle because it is too much trouble. Another problem could be, "Yard Waste". We have to keep it separate in the St. Louis area and when leaves are falling or spring grass is being cut, my yard waste outnumbers regular trash cans 8-1. I have a big yard and that may not be an issue in New York.

William K.
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Re: Cost Savings?
William K.   10/23/2013 9:41:51 PM
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GTO, sorting waste would be fairly simple, since each type of refuse would have a specific bin. Then the master control station could select dumping all of the glass bottle bins at one time, all of the plastic trash bins at another time, and even yard waste at a specific time. It would be similar to the pipelines used for the transport of different materials. It would not be 100% perfect but it could certainly  provide a good amount of separation quite easily.  And why use a robot to unclog the pipes when there are already in existance all kinds of pipe unclogging technologies. It is not a new science, you know.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Cost Savings?
Elizabeth M   10/29/2013 11:26:09 AM
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Thanks for explaining that so succinctly, William K. That is exactly how the system would work, to my understanding. As with all things, of course it wouldn't be perfect, as you point out, but I bet in the end it would be a lot more accurate--if people put trash in the proper bins--than the system that's in place now in terms of separating garbage and recycling.

William K.
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Re: Cost Savings?
William K.   10/29/2013 9:43:03 PM
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Elizabeth, yes, the system could be quite efficient. BUT the system that I advocate has a better return on investment, which is to let individuals collect the trash, sort it, and sell it to whoever would pay for recycling.  The two main advantages of this concept are that it would provide employment for a lot of folks who can't keep any other sort of job, providing them with a source of income that would be a direct reward for the effort they applied to the work, and second, it would require very little government effort and not much infrastructure changes. And it would be quite reliable, not having any high powered anything to fail, and also being a widely distributed system. Those two characteristics tend to promote reliability. One more unanticipated benefit is that it could include a lost item recovery function, which a central pneumatic collection system could not have. 

I would be willing to discuss this concept in more detail if any are interested.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Cost Savings?
Elizabeth M   10/30/2013 7:22:52 AM
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Well that is certainly an interesting proposal, William K. I can see the benefits of such a system but I think it's a bit tricky when it depends on pure motivation of people to collect the recycling money. While it would certainly pay for jobs, and people are certainly motivated by money, I would be hesitant to depend on this for trash collection. Although I suppose as you point out people could make lucrative businesses from it.

William K.
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Re: Cost Savings?
William K.   10/30/2013 8:50:26 AM
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Elizabeth, in this area of Michigan, a few miles north of Detroit city limits, such a system is already working, despite the local governments giving a lot of the recyclers a hard time about it. If I am disposing of a bunch of metal trash all I need to do is dump it on the ground by my street on the day prior to collection day. Usually it is gone by the time I can carry out a second load. If the weather is really nasty it may sit there for an hour or two, but it is always gone before sunset. And I am certain that all of it is collected in expectation of monetary recovery, which is how those poor folks make their living. Some assert that the city government is entitled to that profit, but I don't like the concept of highly paid city collectors doing what others do for free, and better as well.

Of course there is room for improvement in the program, since nobody wants to collect the plastic or glass currently, but metal and paper would all vanish quickly if the city watchdogs were assigned to more important tasks, such as crimefighting.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Cost Savings?
Ann R. Thryft   10/23/2013 7:51:17 PM
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While at first this sounds fascinating, like Tool_maker I also have concerns about cost/payback, as well as maintenance and just plain practicality. In some places, like highly urbanized NYC, it might make more sense than others. It's true we've covered many snake-like robots that could do the maintenance, but they're not at all cheap: quite the opposite. They're also not past prototypes in most cases. In any event, adding robots to this system seems to me like unnecessary complexity.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Cost Savings?
Elizabeth M   10/28/2013 8:51:28 AM
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I agree with most of what you're saying, Ann. I hear what everyone else is saying about concerns, too, but I think it is workable, but one thing at a time, like I said before. Let's see if the system can work incrementally and then maybe someday robots can get in there. But you're right, it would all be too complex all at once to introduce such a big idea.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Cost Savings?
Ann R. Thryft   10/28/2013 12:10:39 PM
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That sounds like a good idea, Elizabeth: a demo or pilot project on a small scale.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Cost Savings?
Elizabeth M   10/29/2013 10:21:31 AM
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Yes, Ann, that's exactly what's been examined and proposed here. I think it would be the only way this would work on a larger scale.

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