Trash Track, a super-cool new program launched by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, nicely caps off my recent post on the rubbish-obsessed documentary film, Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home. Like the film, Trash Track helps us understand that once we throw something out it doesn’t magically go poof! and disappear.

Here’s how Trash Track works: residents in two pilot cities, New York and Seattle, can voluntarily tag trash with a wireless electronic marker that records the location of each piece of refuse and how long it has been in the waste stream. Starting in September, the public will be able to view the “migration patterns” of tagged trash via exhibits at the Architectural League in New York and the Seattle Public Library.

Carlo Ratti from MIT’s SENSEable City Lab says about Trash Track says:

Our project aims to reveal the disposal process of our everyday objects, as well as to highlight potential inefficiencies in today's recycling and sanitation systems. The project could be considered the urban equivalent of nuclear medicine — when a tracer is injected and followed through the human body.
Project leader Musstanser Tinauli adds:  
We hope that Trash Track will also point the way to a possible urban future: that of a system where, thanks to the pervasive usage of smart tags, 100 percent recycling could become a reality. 
At this time, the program involves only Seattle and New York — two cities with considerably beefy recycling programs and waste diversion goals — but London will be brought into the fold in the near future. And although it’s not exactly clear how residents can acquire these “trash tags,” I’m hoping to somehow get my hands on one. So those of you who have always wondered what exactly happens to MNN blogger Matt's Thai take-out containers and spent razor cartridges, you may be in luck. 

[MIT] via [Earth911]

Photos: E Roon Kang/MIT SENSEable City Lab

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Talkin' Trash Track
Seattlites and New Yorkers can follow household garbage as it travels through the waste stream with MIT's Trash Track program.