People in metro regions across the United States are experiencing some subtle changes to their surroundings that may or may not be evident to the average passerby. They have to do with options in waste disposal.

Back when the American Dream was firmly in place behind the white picket fences of the suburbs, trash disposal consisted of tying up the family trash bags and leaving them on the curb for the garbage collectors — er, sanitation engineers — to come and remove. There weren’t very many rules and regulations about how, when, where, and what to throw away.

But necessity is the mother of legislation as well as invention. As our awareness of the larger effects of trash disposal has increased, so have our efforts to maximize the efficiency of addressing this need. Even technological advances have come into play, in seemingly small ways that have had a massive impact.

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Automated trash collection

Many neighborhoods and cities have a regulated “trash day/night” on which the residents are asked to place their waste at curbside for pickup the following day. However, more populated areas such as colleges and apartment complexes now have an automated trash collection system in operation.

These systems not only help to accommodate the larger volume of waste that’s generated in these areas, but they also reduce the costs of manpower, fuel/energy, and time required to remove the trash.

Homeland Security regulations that govern waste disposal

When we think of the agenda of the Department of Homeland Security, trash disposal might not be one of the things that comes immediately to mind. However, after enduring and studying a series of security emergencies, American regulators have noted the need for a system that will ensure a clean and efficient way to deal with trash cleanup and disposal.

With a now highly regulated hierarchy of how and where trash disposal should take place following a Homeland Security emergency situation, as well as rules that address high-traffic public trash disposal receptacle options, it appears that we have come to realize as a nation that proper waste disposal and cleanup is an important element of maintaining the our national security.

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Solar-powered trash compactors

A relatively recent innovation that’s being seen more and more in downtown urban areas is trash compactors on public streets. City waste disposal systems such as Philadelphia’s, which use “Big Belly Trash Cans” have supported a remarkably successful program that reduces the amount of litter on the streets while saving the city millions on trash removal costs.

The City of Brotherly Love has gone a step further and made these high-tech trash bins more environmentally friendly with the installation of solar energy cells to power these compactors.

Too often, we pay more attention to reducing the waste we make than we do to how to dispose of the garbage we generate in a safe and secure fashion. But with the technological innovations we’ve seen in recent decades, we’re finding ways to improve both our awareness of trash creation and the efficiency of our disposal options.

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