“When we talk about urban mining, we’re talking about mining what we have already made and brought into an urban context.”
Grassroots organizations in Mexico are promoting inclusive recycling by helping usher trash pickers, or pepenadores, into the salaried workforce. In the endeavor, they draw on positive experiences around the developing world.
By collecting and separating reusable or recyclable materials of their own accord, unsalaried waste pickers relieve the growing burden of mismanaged municipal solid waste.
When we learn from the way nutrients are constantly broken down and repurposed in natural systems, we find opportunities for a circular economy everywhere.
Why not make the economy circular, with waste from one process feeding into other production processes, thus dramatically reducing the need both for resource extraction and for the dumping of rubbish? We should mimic nature: it’s a central ideal of the ecology movement, with roots in indigenous wisdom worldwide.
But the solar panels generating that power don’t last forever. The industry standard life span is about 25 to 30 years, and that means that some of the panels installed at the early end of the current boom aren’t long from being retired.
What does it take to upcycle any waste material into a product that is beautiful, serves a basic function and will prevent that material from ending up in a landfill for a few more years?
In Montreuil, the Collecterie resource center is fighting waste by recycling trash—and generating jobs.
Individualized recycling is a start but it is not doing nearly enough.
In Germany only about 1 percent of all municipal waste goes into landfills. This compares with about 68 percent in the United States. The U.S. could recycle more and turn much more of the residual waste into energy.
San Francisco, the first urban area in the nation to mandate recycling and composting and begin outlawing items like Styrofoam food containers, aims to completely eliminate the trash it sends to landfills by 2020.
While technological innovation is often seen as the answer to modern waste problems, what can we learn from the historical methods used by great ancient societies such as the Aztecs of Mexico?