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Snapshots of "Designing Waste: Strategies for a Zero Waste City"

An exhibition in New York City highlighted waste management strategies that can help the city achieve its goal of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030.

Mallory Szczepanski

September 5, 2018

20 Slides

Achieving zero waste in a community or business requires a group effort. From government leaders, business operators and landlords to architects, designers and residents, participation from all parties is needed in order for waste reduction goals to be set and achieved.

And while many share the desire of wanting to achieve zero waste, it’s not a simple task. It’s a task that requires strategic thinking and effective and efficient action plans. In a city like New York City, for example, which is both dense and complex, out-of-the-box thinking and smart planning is a must.

New York City is currently working toward its goal of reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills by 90 percent by 2030. And to help designers, building operators, planners and others understand how waste is currently managed and learn how they can do their part in reducing waste and increasing diversion rates for recyclables, journalist and independent curator Andrew Blum and multidisciplinary design firm Wkshps teamed up to create “Designing Waste: Strategies for a Zero Waste City,” an exhibition that was recently on view at The Center for Architecture in New York City.

“Every single person in New York City touches the waste system every day—more than our schools, our transit system or even our sidewalks,” said Blum in a statement. “A close examination of the role of design in how we manage our waste—not only in landfills, but in the places we live and work—is long overdue.”

Based on the “Zero Waste Design Guidelines,” which state that “zero waste requires an integrated approach with architects, planners and building operators working in tandem to design a coherent system in which materials are easily separated, handled, stored and collected in their own streams,” the exhibition highlighted waste management strategies for achieving zero waste as well as explored how waste is managed in buildings and neighborhoods and how design can help reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills.

The exhibit was outfitted with an interactive waste calculator; infographics that featured typologies of waste management and its best practices; waste, recycling and organics bins; a breakdown of zero waste in numbers; information on the labor of waste management; a working zero waste sorting station; balers; and more.

Flip through this gallery to view a series of snapshots from the exhibition.

Feeling inspired? Submit a design for BetterBin, a design competition to reimagine the iconic New York City litter basket. Deadline is September 20 at 5 p.m. ET.

About the Author(s)

Mallory Szczepanski

Vice President of Member Relations and Publications, NWRA

Mallory Szczepanski was previously the editorial director for Waste360. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago, where her research focused on magazine journalism. She also has previously worked for Contract magazine, Restaurant Business magazine, FoodService Director magazine and Concrete Construction magazine.

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