Helping Urban Residents Collect and Recycle Solid Waste

Local Self-Reliance offers low technology programs to help urban residents collect and recycle solid waste.


| September/October 1977


Low technology programs to collect and recycle solid waste are a viable option for city dwellers.

Urban Programs to Collect and Recycle Solid Waste

For the past several years, the good folks at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Washington, D.C. have worked to help urban residents gain greater control over their lives through the use of low-technology, decentralist tools and concepts. We strongly believe that more people (city dwellers and country folk alike) should be exposed to the Institute's efforts . . . which is why we're now making this "what's happening where" report by ILLSR staffers a regular MOTHER feature. — The Editors.

The solid waste crisis in America is real . . . make no mistake. In a recent survey of mayors, solid waste disposal surfaced as the Number One municipal headache.

One reason is sheer cost: Garbage collection and disposal constitutes the single largest expenditure in most local budgets. Another (perhaps even greater) cause for concern, however, is simply the fact that, increasingly, there are fewer and fewer places to put trash once it's been collected. Experts predict that in two years' time, fully half our cities will run out of landfill area.

High-technology resource recovery plants — using complicated and expensive machinery — were supposed to have solved the country's waste disposal problem by now . . . but high-tech solutions have already failed in Baltimore and Nashville and have been canceled in Seattle and St. Louis. Many city officials are at a loss for what to do: They see no answer in sight.

Perfectly viable solid waste collection and recycling systems have been established, however, in over 100 cities and towns across the U.S. These systems — which are based on the presorting of recyclables and on curbside collection — not only reduce solid waste disposal costs, but are environmentally sound and maintain jobs threatened by high-technology solutions. Publicly owned, privately owned, subsidized, or profit-making, these innovative programs point the way toward permanent relief of the country's municipal waste disposal problem.





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