Solid waste district seeks innovation of receptacles
By Jason Starr
The Essex Reporter
It may seem like we have this recycling thing figured out.
Bins are easy to find, and we enjoy zero-sort service in Chittenden County. Composting opportunities are on the rise as well, a trend that will accelerate as the state moves toward mandatory recycling and composting by 2020 under Act 148.
But for the Chittenden Solid Waste District, persuading people to put the right item in the right bin is a work in progress. Last week, waste district spokeswoman Robin Orr presented the problem to the innovators, thinkers and tinkerers at the Generator maker-space in Burlington. Lacking its own research and development budget, the waste district put a call out during Generator’s monthly mixer for a better design of the bins and signage that guide people through the recycling/composting process — especially at events and festivals.
Orr explained the deficiencies of current setups. They are heavy and awkward to transport, difficult to attach signs to, and are not unified as a recycling, trash and composting unit, she said. It is easy for people to separate trash and recycling bins at events, which leads to people throwing recyclables in the trash.
“We’d like to have a system we can give to people for small events and also something we can use at large events to at least give people the opportunity to get things in the right place,” Orr said.
A new bin setup would have to be weatherproof, easy to place, lightweight and portable. Ideally, it would be designed as one unit serving composting, recycling and trash needs.
“That’s our design problem,” said Orr, who heads the Waste Warriors team of volunteers that helps manage waste at events and festivals. “We are hoping one of you folks can help us figure it out.”
About 50 people were on hand to help brainstorm possible solutions. Preliminary ideas included signing the bins with balloons and using a color code system to differentiate composting, recycling and trash receptacles.
“We are hoping somebody can come up with a brilliantly simple idea,” solid waste district Marketing and Communications Coordinator Clare Innes said. “This is a good first step. We are hoping the gears start turning.”
The Generator is in its second year occupying the basement at Burlington’s Memorial Auditorium as a member-supported maker community. It offers classes and workshops on woodworking, welding, 3-D printing and other hands-on disciplines. Thursday’s event was one in a series of monthly mixers and was focused on waste stream innovations.
More information is available www.generatorvt.com and at cswd.net.