Resource management, despite complexities, is significantly improved by strategically providing public recycling bins on busy streets and intersections.
By Andrew Cech and Jonathan Lambert
Published July 30, 2013
While there have been great improvements in municipal environmental programs, waste disposal and resource management remain major issues for communities. For example, recent surveys investigated the distribution of public recycling bins in Montreal and Ottawa.
However, there is a general lack of recorded information about the placement of public recycling bins in Hamilton, Ontario.
Public recycling bins help bring diverse environmental, economic, and social benefits to communities. First, providing recycling bins in public spaces and on city streets can contribute to increasing the quantity of recycling, which can reduce the size of our problematic landfill sites. Second, recycling bins can save communities money in the long run, because many products, such as aluminium-based goods, are extremely costly to produce from raw material. Third, public recycling bins can enhance awareness of recycling and environmental issues, such as climate change and peak oil, so that we can move toward more sustainable living.
As described by scientists and activists such as David Suzuki and David R. Boyd in their book David Suzuki's Green Guide (Vancouver, Greystone Books), life on earth is dangerously close to environmental devastation and action must be taken now in order to reduce the ecological footprint of people living in wealthy industrialized nations.
Where are public recycling bins in Hamilton? Comparing the ratio of public garbage bins to public recycling bins on streets can provide insight into city public recycling bin distribution. On King Street in Hamilton, between John and Locke there were approximately 50 garbage bins and 15 public recycling bins. These recycling bins consist of three containers for paper, cans and bottles, and litter, as shown in the following photo:
Photo: Public recycling bin at Gore Park on the corner of King and James, July 2013
Along Main Street, from John to Dundurn there were approximately 16 public garbage bins and two public recycling bins.
These data suggest that public recycling bins are not uncommon in downtown Hamilton. However, public recycling bins are rarer further away from the city centre. For example, along Charlton Street (not far from Main and King) there were approximately nine public garbage bins and zero public recycling bins between John and Dundern.
Future studies may investigate more thoroughly the distribution pattern of public recycling bins on Hamilton streets and match these patterns with regions of high pedestrian traffic.
Although incomplete, this study has examined the distribution of public recycling bins in Hamilton. Resource management, despite complexities, is significantly improved by strategically providing public recycling bins on busy streets and intersections.
While the earth is facing urgent environmental problems often directly caused by human activity, we can also look forward to implementing healthy change, reducing our use of non-renewable resources, and supporting participation in recycling.
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