October 28, 2014: Garbology News

Ebola: The story of the spread of ebola shines a light on the issue of medical waste management. A viral video of a New York Police Office tossing away gloves in a public trash can made the rounds bringing shame and ridicule on police and caregivers even after it was found that the police officer had no contact with patient. News agencies are now questioning how medical waste is handled and how the public is protected from Ebola-associated waste.

In Texas, a judge blocked disposal of the Ebola victim’s belongings in Louisiana where “six truckloads” were in planned to be transported from Dallas, Texas, across state lines. The State Attorney General, Buddy Caldwell, said he was concerned that the ashes from the Ebola patient could pose a danger to Louisiana’s population.

The Insurance Journal reported that Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, the first treating Ebola patients in the US, was caught off-guard when the company handling their waste refused to touch the Ebola-related waste.

Ebola symptoms can include copious amounts of vomiting and diarrhea, and nurses and doctors at Emory donned full hazmat suits to protect themselves. Bags of waste quickly began to pile up.

“At its peak, we were up to 40 bags a day of medical waste, which took a huge tax on our waste management system,” Emory’s Dr. Aneesh Mehta told colleagues at a medical meeting earlier this month.

Emory sent staff to Home Depot to buy as many 32-gallon rubber waste containers with lids that they could get their hands on. Emory kept the waste in a special containment area for six days until its Atlanta neighbor, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helped broker an agreement with Stericycle.

While U.S. hospitals may be prepared clinically to care for a patient with Ebola, Emory’s experience shows that logistically they are far from ready, biosafety experts said.

Ebola waste disposal became a hot topic in the US House of Representatives last week. In that article, they offered the following statistics:

Hospitals ultimately dispose of about 7,000 tons of waste each day, and across the industry spend nearly $10 billion annually to dispose of it.

According to reports to the Washington Post, bed linens, carpet, and other soiled items must be burned in a high-temperature incinerator at 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit to destroy the virus.

Here is more news about bio-waste issues related to Ebola.

Marysville Anti-Garbage Can Resident Followup: An article in the North County Outlook reports on the legality of the city to force a Marysville woman to use and pay for unwanted garbage and recycling services, with the city citing they have the right to require all residents to pay for such services as it is a health and safety concern.

“These codes encourage irresponsibility and mismanagement of natural resources by increasing additional waste to our landfills. They penalize our long-time city residents, or newly annexed-in residents like myself, who have been practicing being green and reducing our carbon footprint,” said Marysville resident Vonna Posey at a Sept. 22 city council meeting.

Posey has been practicing “green” living for 38 years. What little garbage she has is taken away by her son.

She has received media attention in recent weeks because, in an act of civil disobedience, she has refused to pay her garbage bill, even in the face of fines and cut-off services.

The municipal code includes enforcement up to jail time, however public works director Kevin Nielsen said that “nobody’s going to jail” over this matter.

“We have no need, want or use of the garbage service the city provides. Your compulsion takes away our freedom of choice to be responsible for ourselves. It discourages our continued efforts to maintain a healthy environment for our children and grandchildren,” she said.

Some other residents were concerned about the legality of forcing residents to purchase garbage service, however similar ordinances have consistently stood up to challenges in courts everywhere in the U.S.

“Our courts in the state of Washington, and almost universally across the nation, have consistently held with respect to solid waste and garbage and utilities like stormwater. Cities have the authority to require all persons within the city limits to subscribe to the service,” said city attorney Grant Weed.

The following is a summary of the news in and around the subject of garbology, our regular attempt to collect more resources, references, and information you may use in your classroom discussions.

Reminders and Nags

On the Radio: Diane Rehm’s show will cover the impact of garbage in the world’s ocean on November 4, 2014, with Callum Roberts marine scientist and conservationist, University of York (England) and author of “The Unnatural History of the Sea” (2007), and Charles Moore a sea captain, pollution expert, activist and founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

Student Garbology Site – Wordless Wednesday: The student site for Garbology Common Read Project is looking for images for the Wordless Wednesday meme for students and teachers. If you would like to offer or recommend images to this project for the student site or for your class, please contact us.

Book Club Meeting: Please add Friday, November 21, from 12-1:30PM to your calendar for the next Garbology Book Club Meeting in the Cannell Library (LIB 101). It is open to faculty and students.

Discussions: We have numerous discussions on the site for you to participate in to learn more about garbology and how to incorporate it into the classroom. See the Discussions category.

Ideas: If your class has incorporated any or all of the Garbology book into your curriculum, we’d love to hear about it. If not, are you wondering how to incorporate garbology into your curriculum? Check out the list created by the brainstorming sessions from the Faculty Focus event on Clark Faculty Ideas for Garbology Projects.

Garbology, Garbage, Recycling, and Related News

Cairo, Egypt: Families living in “Garbage City” are worried about their livelihood being threatened by changes in the government and society’s attitude towards trash. An estimated 80,000 Zabbaleen, or “garbage people,” have been living among the garbage for nearly 100 years, several generations growing up among the trash from the nearly 25 million people living in Cairo.

Different families in Garbage City focus on different sorts of trash. Some deal in metals, some in plastic bottles, some in paper — sorting each group into “sellable” and “unsellable.” Anything that can be reused or recycled is saved. Carts pulled by donkeys ply the streets, stacked sometimes 10 feet high with recyclables.

These expert dumpster-divers are known as Zabbaleen, that’s “garbage people” in Egyptian Arabic, and they recycle an amazing 80 percent of the waste they collect, compared with a mere 25 percent among garbage companies in Western cities.

The Zabbaleen, who live mostly at the southern end of Manshiyat Naser ward, are consummate outsiders — and not just because they collect refuse for a living. They are Christians in a city of Muslims, and pig-farmers in a society that reviles swine.

International: A collection of images from around the world are on display on Business Insider showing photographs by international photographers of children playing in the garbage. (Photo Credit: Business Insider collection)

Two boys play in garbage dump in Afghanistan - Business Insider news.

Portland, Oregon: The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) announced the Sustainability Award winners for a several awards going to University of Hawaii/Kauai Community College, Austin Community College, University of San Diego, University of Louisville, San Diego State University, and others for their unique and outstanding work in sustainability projects.

Texas: Does your garbage can need a new pair of pants? Garbage Pantz, a startup by Ana and John Meyer in Dallas, Texas, creates decorative covers for trash cans, including blue jeans, camouflage pants, Halloween jack-o-lanterns, Christmas reindeer, and Easter bunnies.

Arab Emirates: A pillow manufacturing company has been shut down and the owner arrested in the Emirates for stuffing their pillows with garbage not “high-quality Turkish feathers.”

India: The growing garbage management and cleanup issues in India continue to plague the country and its citizens. Efforts in New Delhi are underway to achieve a “100 percent door-to-door collection of domestic garbage” explains officials after inaugurating two public toliets, part of a city project to provide 17 free public toilets to approximately 3,000 people, many of them living without santitation facilities, part of the government’s Housing for All by 2022 initiative. In Bangalore, there are reports that garbage dumps are causing eye infections for those living nearby. Other parts of the country are still facing garbage issues as sanitation workers refuse to work on holidays, allowing garbage to pile up. In another community, night squads have been established to monitor the streets to catch and fine people driving by and tossing their garbage in the streets instead of using the “bio-bins and Nirmal units” for garbage collection.

Texas: Trash Tickets will soon be handed out by inspectors in San Antonio, Texas. The city is spending $130,000 on mobile computers to track trash and fine those who put their garbage in the “wrong bin.”

Garbology Research, References, and Studies

Black Hawk College, Iowa: Black Hawk College students are sifting through the trash at the college, separating recyclables from trash to identify the types of waste generated on campus, and look for was to improve the procedures and policies. A campus-wide project, they found nearly 500 pounds of recyclables in the trash from the one day event.

TedX Talk: Ribhu Vohra offers a TedX Talk on Garbology 101, with a summary of the video and discussion on India Water Portal.

GLOBIO: GLOBIO is a consortium on modelling human impacts on biodiversity. The site offers extensive information and news on the impact of humans on nature and offers a tool to track and measure environmental drivers on land biodiversity through history and into the future. It includes land use, atmospheric nitrogen deposition, infrastructure, fragmentation, and climate change.

Garbology The Book

The IPKat is a site dedicated to covering copyright, patent, trademark, and other privacy and intellectual property issues in the UK. In 2006, they wrote about Garbology: Finding the Fakes that Refuse to Go Away on counterfeiting and the impact on garbage. While much of the article features commentary and links to discussions about counterfeit cigarettes, the legal, social, and political issues in and around fake merchandise and garbage in the industrial and commercial sectors might be worth revisiting in your class.

Garbology, Waste Management, Environment, Recycling, and Related Topic Videos

Garbage Dreams is an award-winning 2009 documentary about 3 teenage Zabbaleen (“garbage people”) living in Cario, Egypt, and surviving by picking up and recycling the trash of the city. Produced and directed by filmmaker Mai Iskander, an Egyptian-American, the film also includes “The Recycling School,” a business project by the Zabbaleen to teach at neighborhood schools and workshops. The Gates Foundation donated $1 million to the project, now called “The Spirit of Youth Association,” the group the 2 teens were involved with during the movie. The film won many international awards.

We need your input! If you have information, resources, references, or news items related to our campus-wide common read project, Garbology, please let us know. We’re working hard to bring you information to help you include the book and topic of garbology into your classrooms. Let us know how we can help, but we can’t do it without your help, too.