Trash collection in Taiwan is music to the ears

 Trash collection in Taiwan is music to the ears

Visitors to Taiwan delight in vibrant food, history, culture and the magnificent beauty of its unspoiled countryside. In addition, the cities offer some of the cleanest streets of any developed country in either hemisphere. It wasn’t always so – as we learned from a a very interesting podcast.

99 Percent Invisible began as a collaboration between KALW Public Radio and the American Institute of Architects in San Francisco. According to the people involved, “99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.” Right up our alley! And as it turns out, the garbage in cities like Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, once piled up in all the alleys.

As part of its democratization and tourism-attraction efforts, Taiwan devised a system of garbage collection that in many ways is opposite to the American model. Citizens are responsible for bringing their own garbage to the street and depositing it directly into the truck. The trucks alert the citizens to their imminent arrival with the use of music, much like you’d expect from an ice cream truck. More than that, recycling and composting are meaningfully incentivized. Check out the “Separation Anxiety” podcast from 99 Percent Invisible to find out exactly how it works.

And here’s a video of the citizens of Taipei taking out their trash. As alien as it seems to Americans, we wonder what wisdom we can still take away from this approach.


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