Filed Under Culture
The Eco Warrior Series

In Astro's ongoing efforts to educate ourselves on sustainable design, we sent a couple Astronauts to Recology, the west coast’s experts in waste management and recycling.

Our day started out by visiting Recology’s John A. Legnitto Environmental Learning Center and learning about how Recology collects, sorts, and processes the things we throw away here in SF through a video demonstration and an intensive Q&A session. We then suited up in our hardhats and vests and set off onto an on-site tour of the Learning Center’s resident artist studio, sorting hangar, and Pier 96 processing center.

One great low-tech solution that has been implemented is the use of falconers and their Hawks to scare seagulls away from the landfill. The goal of this is how to reduce plastics and other contaminants out of the food chain/ecosystem and reduce the trash carried away by the gulls.

We weren't actually allowed to take photos inside the sorting center but here is a fairly accurate illustration. One person described it as a larger than life MC Escher drawing. It was amazing to not only see the sheer amount of waste that circulates through the facility, but also the amount of man power it takes to sort it all. There are 2 new additions of sorting robots which were basically like very large teddy pickers. Their AI capabilities are able to recognize all sorts of objects in lightening speed and sort them appropriately. Recology is on a mission to tech-train their employees to use these machines and provide some professional growth-especially to relieve the older generations that are in their 60's or 70's from having to be at the sorting line.

There is definitely no shortage of waste and as designers, we have the responsibility to educate ourselves on new materials and processes. Here are few things some Astronauts are already doing:

Thanks to Bartlett Brands for putting together the Eco Warrior Design Series, an ongoing series of educational events with AIGA.

The next is on 11/13, Designing Durable Packaging and another on 12/4, Biodegradable & Compostable Materials. Hope to see you there!