Would seeing exactly where our trash goes change our consumer habits? That’s what a team of MIT researchers set to find out with Project Trash Track. The innovative system uses special electronic tags to track different types of waste in New York and Seattle as it journeys to its final resting place. The ultimate goal of the project will be to monitor the cost and patterns of urban disposal while creating awareness about the impact of trash on the environment.

Trash Tracker Prototype, MIT SENSEable City

“Trash is one of today’s most pressing issues – both directly and as a reflection of our attitudes and behaviors,” says Professor Carlo Ratti, head of the MIT’s SENSEable City Lab. “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 grew out of the Green NYC initiative who set a goal to increase the rate of recycling in New York to almost 100 percent by 2030. Considering that currently only 30% of the waste is diverted to recycling plants, Trash Track may provide answers that can make the initiative a reality.

Want to check Trash Track out for yourself? The culmination of the project will be on display starting September 2009 at the Architectural League in New York City and in the Seattle Public Library.

+ MIT SENSEable City Lab