recycling

SnapSpace Solutions: providing the “units” for dwelling units

A new company hailing from small-town Brewer, Maine (my home state) is creating value out of unused shipping containers in surprising ways.  ISO Shipping Containers, as they are called, have only a 20 year lifespan.  Because they are standardized, virtually all shippers in the world use the containers.  Once the 20 years are up, the growing supply of unusable containers could either go to the dump or be put to better use. That’s exactly what SnapSpace is doing.  They are serving as a middleman between the owners of obsolete ISBU modules and people who need housing, office space, storage space, or educational space.  SnapSpace procures the unit, retrofits it to the specifications of the buyer, and delivers the final product to the jobsite, leaving minimal construction to be completed on-site.

As if building a structure out of a recycled structure weren’t green enough, SnapSpace will further focus on sustainability by using as much recycled material as possible and converting the ISBUs into energy-efficient units.  They suggest uses as diverse as self-storage units, apartment buildings, temporary (or permanent) schoolrooms, and even disaster housing for FEMA.

Last but not least, the manufacturing jobs brought to the area as a result of this new company will help revive the local economy where some 400 jobs were lost with the closing of the ZF Lemforder plant in 2010.

SnapSpace acknowledges the following companies who are providing similar solutions: ISBU, ContainerCity, and Tempo Housing.

-Terra Curtis

SnapSpace Solutions: providing the “units” for dwelling units

A new company hailing from small-town Brewer, Maine (my home state) is creating value out of unused shipping containers in surprising ways.  ISO Shipping Containers, as they are called, have only a 20 year lifespan.  Because they are standardized, virtually all shippers in the world use the containers.  Once the 20 years are up, the growing supply of unusable containers could either go to the dump or be put to better use. That’s exactly what SnapSpace is doing.  They are serving as a middleman between the owners of obsolete ISBU modules and people who need housing, office space, storage space, or educational space.  SnapSpace procures the unit, retrofits it to the specifications of the buyer, and delivers the final product to the jobsite, leaving minimal construction to be completed on-site.

As if building a structure out of a recycled structure weren’t green enough, SnapSpace will further focus on sustainability by using as much recycled material as possible and converting the ISBUs into energy-efficient units.  They suggest uses as diverse as self-storage units, apartment buildings, temporary (or permanent) schoolrooms, and even disaster housing for FEMA.

Last but not least, the manufacturing jobs brought to the area as a result of this new company will help revive the local economy where some 400 jobs were lost with the closing of the ZF Lemforder plant in 2010.

SnapSpace acknowledges the following companies who are providing similar solutions: ISBU, ContainerCity, and Tempo Housing.

-Terra Curtis

More Garbage Collection

Here's an addendum to the previous trash post, take a look at this paper co-authored by Hai-Lang Yang of Iowa State University and Robert Innes of the University of Arizona in the Journal of Environmental and Resource Economics in 2007----In an accessible manner, the paper gets at three of the policies that have driven Taiwan's aggressive waste management program, namely, unit-pricing in Taipei, mandatory recycling in Kaohsiung, and a federally mandated plastic bag chare.  Although the paper is slightly outdated, it gives a worthwhile overview of the collective impact of policy initiatives and their impacts on behavior as indicated by the following metrics:  total waste, total recycling, and the recycling of four specific materials, all measured by weight per capita.

Taking out the Trash, the Taiwan Way

Beethoven’s “Für Elise” plays in the background. Neighbours brush shoulders, composting table scraps, separating out plastics into the accompanying recycling truck and ditch their own garbage, bags in hand, into the truck’s basin.

This is a daily scene in Taiwan.  This is not just some fab ‘permaculturist’s’ utopian dream. This is the way you take out the trash.  There is no curb-side checking on this small island.

Taiwan’s musical garbage trucks and aggressive waste management program, however, is more than a novel anecdote to the rest of the world’s sometimes slovenly, certainly more pedestrian systems.  It offers us an honest look at where we all might be heading.

Falling short just behind Monaco, Taiwan is the second most densely populated country in the world:  Some 23 million people crowd out 30,000 square kilometres, placing precious many demands on natural resources, forcing Taiwan’s federal government to be the most eager recyclers in Asia and early adopters in general; cycling through different payment systems and systems of penalization before arriving at the most recent permutation in garbage collection. For better or worse, Taiwan’s policies serve as a test bed or pilot for the rest of us.  They are making the hard decisions that the rest of us have delayed.

I am not the first foreigner to write about garbage collection in Taiwan---American students studying in Taiwan write about learning how to recycle, foreigners chat about the ice cream garbage truck, Taiwanese romanticize it as a community building exercise, a daily rite, an intersection of socio-economic classes; perhaps former community organizer, POTUS should have rallied around the trashcan?

Neither here nor there----For me, it’s like airing your dirty laundry. Taking out the trash says a lot about how you spend your days.

As usual, there’s room for improvement, and, um, novel solutions.  Stay tuned for more specifics on this policy.