It’s the year 2805. The earth is abandoned and covered with trash. There’s no sign of life apart from a cockroach and a robotic trash compactor dutifully organizing our centuries of waste.
Is this the future? No. It’s the opening scene of Pixar’s WALL-E. Pixar gets the future all wrong—that is, if the city of Kissimmee has anything to say about it.
“We’re bringing a cleaner, greener, safer, healthier alternative to solid waste containment and collection to the U.S.,” said Jay Wheeler, owner of Underground Refuse Systems and one of the many innovators bringing the future to a Florida town near you. In this case, it’s Kissimmee.
His futuristic trash system is no flying car. Still, it looks like something out of the Jetsons and it’s solving problems both minute and complex. It all started with space.
“We had an issue in our downtown area regarding space for dumpster enclosures,” said Kerrith Fiddler, Kissimmee’s director of Public Works and Engineering. Wheeler’s Underground Refuse System addressed that issue, he added.
Wheeler’s system replaces dumpsters with manufactured underground stationary containers, which saves the city valuable parking space. But the system also happens to beautify the city and renders trash stormproof. The crane automated procedure that trucks use to empty the containers saves labor. The sensor technology that monitors fill levels creates more efficient pick-up routes. Noxious odors? Neutralized. Animals? Locked out.
Wheeler also pointed out that underground refuse poses less of a health risk to homeless populations: “Contaminated dumpster food can send a homeless person to the Emergency Room at the expense of the city and taxpayer.”
If we’re going to save the world from Pixar’s dystopian vision of a planetary dumpster, we have to start somewhere. Why not locally? The city of Kissimmee is doing just that and according to Fiddler: “the residents and business owners who have seen or used the system, love it.”