Waste not, want not. 5 parks that are changing the way we look at waste

Five of the 50 anti-pollution actions listed in a recent UN Environment report touch on solid waste. One of them emphasises that carefully crafted regulation and policies at the national level are pivotal to moving economies to be more sustainable.

On a practical level, some clever waste management projects are proving that parks can have a pivotal (and clever) role in urban sustainability and environmental protection.

1. NYC’s new “eco-park”

Pier 35 is the newest eco-park in New York City located along the East River and facing Brooklyn. It features several landscaped lawns, and an inclined, plant-covered folded screen. It also includes a beach that will act as a habitat for mussels.

The park’s primary goal was to offer the much-needed outdoor space by residents, but it also serves as a habitat restoration area. It also raises public awareness of environmental rehabilitation.

2. Trade dog poop for Wi-Fi

Cleaning up in public places is never easy. A Mexican internet company called Terra partnered with an ad agency, DDB, to get people to clean up their dog poop. Since May 2012, dog owners who deposited dog poop in special bins around 10 parks within Mexico City would be rewarded with free Wi-Fi. This is one of the ways of encouraging people to be mindful of waste and motivate them to keep public spaces cleaner.

3. Recycled shipping container bridge

On the outskirts of Tel Aviv, Israel, is a recycled park project that rehabilitated Hiriya which once brimmed with over 25 million tonnes of waste following decades of continuous landfill. The project recycles different types of waste into electricity, fertiliser, fuel and water for irrigation. The project managers also suggested using discarded shipping containers as the key building material for the project. Finally, in February 2013, the architects created a 160m long bridge that connected Lod road and Ariel Sharon Park.

4. Floating parks

The Recycled Park Project in Rotterdam, Netherlands, was launched in 2014 to catch plastic waste in the New Meuse River before it got into the North Sea. Retrieved plastics are converted into building blocks and continue to be used in constructing a recycled plastic floating park.

5. Recycled water

The Sydney Park Water Re-Use Project used a former landfill site to improve green amenities in a densifying built environment. Located in Alexandria, a suburb in Sydney, the project was completed in 2015 and is the largest water harvesting project in Sydney. It succeeded in collecting stormwater for treatment and reuse, circulating water through wetlands and ponds, creating greener amenities and renewing ecosystems.

Practical tips

While you may not be able to install a shipping container bridge, there are simple steps to making parks more sustainable.

  • The right public litter bins help to maintain a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable place to live. Litter is not only an eyesore: it can damage waterways, wildlife and marine life. Check out our Aero Recycling Litter Bin (a user-friendly solution for mixed wastes) or the cleverly designed Doggy Doo Bin.
  • Protect and promote native plants in the urban environment with our range of planters and tree protectors.
  • Encourage active travel (and fewer vehicles on the road) with bike and scooter racks. In particular, the Kiwi Z Scooter Rack offers a streamline design that integrates perfectly into urban areas.
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