With the rise of urban dwellers comes the rise of urban waste. And, although the hidden life of garbage is still ignored by many, there is no way of escaping one of modern societies most pressing issues: unsustainable waste management. Though many plausible and obvious solutions have already been suggested and are ready to be implemented, some experts are proposing radical solutions that may one day be a reality.
Cook County, Illinois, recently brought the elimination of construction waste to a new level by creating the first demolition debris ordinance in the Midwest. This groundbreaking ordinance requires most of the debris created from demolition to be recycled and reused instead of being sent to the landfill. The ordinance helps contribute to Cook County’s zero waste goal, part of the Solid Waste Plan Update.
The new law states that at least 7 percent of suburban construction and demolition debris must be recycled, and an additional 5 percent must be reused on residential properties. This new legislation will have a great impact as it affects about 2.5 million suburban Cook County residents.
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A small group of students and architect Tobias Holler of sLAB Costa Rica at the New York Institute of Technology, have teamed up to design and build a communal recycling center for Nosara, Costa Rica – a city that is facing grave problems with sanitation and illegal dumping of garbage on beaches and in wildlife areas. Construction started last summer after a Kickstarter campaign that raised $15,000 helped provide expenses and costs associated with housing the students that assisted with the construction. A relaunch of the Kickstarter campaign will provide the project with additional funds to bring the students back to accelerate the pace of construction. The funds also support the documentary by Ayana de Vos, whose film follows the progress of the project and features waste management and sustainability in Costa Rica.
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The motivation behind building a Communal Recycling Center is based in the severe problems that Nosara specifically, and Costa Rica in general, has in municipal waste management. Without appropriate infrastructure and policies, over 1400 tons of waste is deposited into unregulated dumps daily. A lot of the garbage makes its way into rivers and forests, pollutes ground water, threatens the health of local communities and destroys wildlife.