Public space recycling : the study of a Capital Metro pilot program for transit stop recycling
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Over the course of the last several decades, an increase in the level of concern surrounding the various health and environmental consequences of current, popular waste disposal methods, including landfilling and incineration, have resulted in an increase in municipal recycling efforts. These efforts take place primarily at the residential and commercial levels, while the availability of recycling in public spaces like sidewalks, transit stops, parks and other areas is not something that is often encountered in cities around the United States. This thesis studies the implications and opportunities for public space recycling through the action research process during which I conducted case study research of existing public space recycling programs in Portland, Oregon, and New York, New York, alongside the planning and implementation of a pilot program for transit stop recycling in Austin, Texas. The aim of this thesis is to examine and establish various goals and common strategies for the implementation of public space recycling programs and ultimately make a case for this arguably invaluable, yet often overlooked, recycling initiative. Working under the theoretical framework of the urban metabolism and Karl Marx’s theory of the metabolic rift, the reimagining of waste disposal practices to include widespread materials recycling is one avenue for the restructuring of the relationship between the city and the natural environment. The expansion of recycling practices into public spaces forwards the overall mission to make recycling an integral part of daily life. If implemented properly, the widespread implementation of recycling programs like public space recycling could begin to heal the fragmented urban metabolism and ensure the longevity of the ever-evolving urban and natural environments. The conclusions of this research revolve around the importance of context for public space (and other) recycling practices. This research shows that for public space recycling to succeed as a strategy for the mainstreaming of recycling practices and the reparation of the metabolic rift, the unique characteristics of each individual public space must be taken into consideration upon the implementation of a public space recycling program.
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