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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
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