Public Services Design (Rant)

If there’s one area in public services that would benefit from a bit more design input, it would, in my opinion be waste management!

Remember back in the day when you wanted rid of something, you put it in the bin and on the same day each week, the binmen collected the bins. Simples!

Now, we separate the cardboard, paper, glass, plastic, food-waste and unrecyclables into their respective containers in our kitchens, taking them out for collection on an alternate fortnightly cycle (after first checking the recycling timetable). Our gardens and pathways are full of wheelie bins, Food bins, Glass recycling crates and cardboard recycling bags.

The whole waste management burden has been passed from the landfill sites to the householder. God help you if you miss a waste-operative technicians collection date – this means you won’t have the waste collected for another fortnight! Four weeks of food waste would mount up and the collectors won’t take extra bags any more so with a feeling of guilt we throw it in the ‘unrecyclables’ bin.

I’m not for a minute suggesting we go back to the way we were before, throwing all rubbish into a hole in the ground or worse still, incinerating it, but I do feel that there is a great distance to go in simplifying the whole task both in how we sort and store the waste – this could be down to the design of the bins, right through to the waste collection and planning.

At the moment, each council has its own waste management policies but surely we can come up with a more coherent scheme so that the good ideas are put together. I’d hope that good design and common sense can get us out of the confusion we’re in now!

(Rant over :o)


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