Linear to circular waste : reimagining Austin’s waste economy




Atkinson, Oliver Lewis

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The United States currently trails the rest of the developed world regarding waste infrastructure. While other countries and regions are focused on implementing sustainable technologies such as advanced waste infrastructure and on-site renewable energy, rapidly developing cities, such as Austin, Texas, still rely on infrastructure designed and built decades ago. This lack of effective infrastructure is not unique to American cities, yet other cities have already taken the first steps into creating a city- wide waste infrastructure that successfully sorts, processes, and reuses waste in a sustainable, closed loop method. There are two crucial steps involved in sustainable waste management: collecting/sorting and processing/repurposing. In terms of collecting and sorting waste, ENVAC, a company based in Sweden, has invented a vacuum waste collection system in 1961, and has since gone on to install over 1,000 vacuum waste collection infrastructure systems worldwide. These systems facilitate the correct sorting of waste and utilizes pneumatic tubes to ensure that the waste is transported to the correct facility. Combined heating and power plants (CHP plants), commonly used throughout Northern Europe, incinerate municipal waste, recovering the latent energy and repurposing it as heat or power. This research will draw from these examples to propose a possible solution for the Mueller District in Austin, Texas, USA. The design phases proposed will look at both the physical requirements of installing such a system as well as the possible cultural and social benefits and the possible barriers to its implementation


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