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MIT Researchers Track Trash

7/17/2009 12:00:00 AM

Tags: Trash Track, MIT, reduce waste, landfills, research

When you throw it away, there is no away. 

We’ve heard that phrase about our garbage, in one iteration or another, for decades. I am aware that the stuff I can’t reuse or recycle ends up in a landfill, but I have to admit, I’ve been (kind of blissfully) ignorant about where my garbage goes. That’s about to change. 

Getting rid of your trash at the nearest receptable doesn't make it go away. Photo By wvs/Courtesy Flickr.  

MIT researchers just announced Trash Track, a project that will make it difficult to ignore just how much trash we create daily.

With the help of volunteers in New York and Seattle, Trash Track will electronically “tag” pieces of garbage with special wireless location markers. These markers, or “trash tags,” will follow the waste from volunteers’ homes to their final destinations. Throughout the journey, the tags will send location information about each trash piece to a central server, which will analyze the data in real time. By September, you'll be able to view the trash's journey through New York and Seattle’s disposal systems online. Trash Track plans to expand into London soon.

Trash Track's goal is to reveal the resources and energy it takes to dispose of trash, locate any inefficiencies in today’s recycling and waste disposal systems, and create awareness of trash’s negative effect on the environment. 

The project was inspired by the Green NYC Initiative, whose goal is to create nearly zero waste in New York (through recycling) by 2030. Today only about 30 percent of the city’s waste is recycled

How do you prevent unnecessary waste in your homes? Tell me your tips in the comment section.

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