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Waste management - how it might be done in the future

These days waste disposal is a labour intensive and messy business. Any future improvements to waste disposal will need to reduce the man-power involved in this process in place of a more automated system. This process has already begun with waste disposal trucks that tip the bins over the top of the truck and bring them back to earth empty again by means of machinery. But what's the next step? Presently several operators are required to load the bins into the mechanism and ensure its correct operation. Perhaps in the future a bin man will do no more than drive the truck, as specialised cameras scan for codes found on the bins, lifting, emptying and returning the appropriate bins to their original position in a fully automated way.

Perhaps instead of bin lorries getting smarter, bins themselves will get smarter. Bins capable of compressing material into a compact cube would eliminate the need for emptying all together. A bin with a built in compressor, such as those seen in city centres all around the world today, may become the standard for waste disposal with a common duct for a terrace row or a street allowing collection of many resident's waste from a centralised point. The tightly packaged cubes themselves will make waste collection easier than ever. Different ducts for each of the major types of waste (general waste, food stuffs, plastics, paper and glass) could vastly increase the efficiency of waste management in our towns and cities.

But why stop there? With four or more different types of waste acceptors at the bottom of our garden, all running to a central duct system, we could place our general waste into a compressor making handy cubes, while plastics could be melted down and piped as a liquid straight from our homes to a processing plant. Glass ground into a fine powder could be transported in a similar way, as well as paper turned to mulch with the aid of rainwater collected by our new smart waste disposal systems. Not only would this system dramatically increase the amount of recycling undertaken by our households, but it would revolutionise the way we think about disposing of our waste.

With a centralised system in place and the constituents of our waste piped to processing plants, our lives could become more sustainable, and our waste disposal effortless as we wave goodbye to the old faithful bin lorry for the last time.

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