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Where to put that coffee cup amid the row of recycling bins? High-powered researchers are here to help

January 6th, 2015 · 7 Comments

I am losing hours of my life these days, standing perplexed in front of rows of recycling bins, trying to figure out where to put the component parts of my garbage.

To make it more confusing, every place I go to seems to have a slightly different system. Just dumped off a bunch of papers at Langara College, where I teach, and which has a bin for ALL mixed paper, newspapers and regular paper. Just seems wrong to me, since I separate them at home, so I spend extra time studying the sign to make sure I have understood correctly. When I go to UBC, where I also teach, another system. When I go to a public festival or market, another system. (Fortunately, the Vancouver Folk Festival stations one or two volunteers at every row of recycling bins to help out with proper throwing away.)

All of that prompted me to start asking if anyone is trying to standardize the system or make it more coherent. And, to my amazement (my story ideas don’t always pan out like this), it turns out that very smart people are trying to figure this all out.

My story here in the Globe is all about how Metro Vancouver, Multi Material BC, and researchers/designers at UBC and Emily Carr are all trying to figure out how the best way to help people figure out, in split seconds, where to put there garbage. Pilots are coming to three communities — Penticton, Richmond, City of North Van — in the summer.

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