2015-16 Essay Topic

Waste Not, Want Not 

Humans create a lot of trash. Each of the nearly 320 million citizens of the United States, for example, generates an average of 4.3 pounds of trash per person, per day. That makes solid waste management (the collection and processing of trash) one of the most important health, safety, and environmental services a city provides for its residents.

Over the years, cities and towns have managed their trash in a variety of ways, including dumping it into landfills, burning it in incinerators, or shipping it off to other states or countries in trucks and barges.

If improperly designed or managed, such waste management systems have the potential to contribute to air and water pollution and can be expensive and energy intensive. Today, engineers around the world are focused on the four R's of waste management (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot) in an effort to design new ways to deal with solid waste that treat it not as trash destined for landfills or incinerators but as a resource.

Your Challenge: Design an innovative citywide solid waste management system for your future city that is safe, environmentally sound, and energy efficient.