Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, recently began a study regarding where the trash you throw away actually ends up. MIT researchers have teamed up with volunteers in Seattle to track approximately 3,000 pieces of trash.
Seattle was chosen due in part to the large amount of recycling that occurs in the city. In five years, the average amount of trash recycled in the city went from 38 percent to approximately 50 percent. The city is also hoping to increase that to 60 percent in the next couple years. The U.S. national average is 32 percent. Nearly 800,000 tons of trash is either sent to landfill or recycled in some capacity in Seattle each year.
In terms of the trash the researchers at MIT are tracking, it is rather varied. The trash tagged includes Styrofoam cups, pizza boxes, wine bottles, printer cartridges, plastic bags and even scrap metal. The volunteers will be throwing the selected trash away as they normally would, whether that be in the recycling bin or the garbage can.
The trash will be tracked with electronic devices which are battery operated. The tags will be using cell phone technology to relay information to the MIT researchers via computers. The trash will actually be able to be tracked in real-time.
Starting on September 18th, Seattle’s Central Library will be showcasing the study in the library. The hope is that the trash tracking will cause people to think more about what actually occurs when you throw an item away. In addition, the study is expected to help the trash collection agencies in the city of Seattle in order to improve their systems.