(photo: Sam Jean)
07.12.2020, 19:28

Mitigating Waste in Public Spaces

Cleaning & Waste Management, Health, Safety, Security & Environment, Public Sector, Environmental Management

Covid-19 concerns about food waste in public spaces and environmental concerns over single-use plastic packaging are prompting many public sector organisations to rethink environmental management.

Local government organizations are addressing these concerns via a variety of methods, with the goal of achieving sustainable public spaces free from individual and communal waste.

Every year, a seemingly unending amount of trash piles up in public parks, in and along rivers, and throughout streets and other public spaces. While some locales around the world cannot afford to properly remove and dispose of this waste, most governments in the US and elsewhere have ample resources to reduce this problem.


Source reduction is a major component in reducing the amount of trash that accumulates in parks, bodies of water and other public spaces. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), source reduction is the most preferred method for reducing waste build-up in general.


The use of on-site trash receptacles is one such example of source reduction, helping to prevent accumulation of waste in public environments. Manufacturers of trash receptacles like UltraSite create a variety of aesthetically-appealing options that not only look great in public spaces, but encourage visitors to use them. These trash receptacles can be further customized based on shape, color and capacity.

Creating a Sense of Community

As a general rule of thumb, people tend not to dispose of rubbish or waste where they themselves live. Building a meaningful sense of community and shared responsibility is a primary goal of local governments, if only because the outcome in public spaces is a reduction in the overall amount of pollution and waste.


When individuals are disconnected from their local surroundings and feel no ownership or sense of community, they become far more likely to engage in habits that are not environmentally sustainable. Whether this be the disposal of dangerous chemicals such as motor oil or simply leaving rubbish, one key component of increasing environmental responsibility among the public is to build a sense of community.

Encouraging Proactive Behaviors

Shared responsibility in public spaces is difficult to generate, but local leaders see proactive behaviors as being the final piece of the sustainability puzzle. The simplest solution for maximizing environmental responsibility in public spaces is to encourage individuals to act when they see something amiss. This includes social pressure on those who may engage in acts not favorable to the environment, as well as proactively picking up the trash left behind by others and disposing of it.


Local governments and organizations have a variety of potential actions to consider for encouraging this trend, but the reasons for picking up litter are often personalized based on the individual’s motivations.


As governments, organizations and charities seek better behaviors and increased sustainability in public spaces, taking ownership of the problem is essential. The end result: cleaner spaces with improved environmental contributions.


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