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Data Science for Social Good: Recycling in Nashville

Posted by on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 in DSSG, Ongoing Research.

Would Nashville even be Nashville without the scores of construction cranes dotting the skyline of the city? Nashville is a rapidly growing and evolving city, in both population and infrastructure. With growth comes construction, renovation, remodeling, and demolition – generating tons of waste which can be responsibly recycled and reused. In 2017, Nashville Public Works initiated a Zero Waste plan to minimize the amount of waste generated in Nashville and maximize the recycling and reuse of recyclable materials. “Zero waste” refers to the objective of diverting 90% of materials from landfills, and instead, viewing waste as a resource to be recycled, reduced, reused, composted, or converted to other biomaterials such as fuel. Nashville’s positive growth introduces an opportunity to positively affect the zero waste objective by forming policies to facilitate recycling and reuse during these activities.

But – how much waste is expected to be generated, and of what types? How much of it can be recycled, and what policies and strategies can be employed to encourage recycling and reuse? This joint collaboration between Nashville Metro Public Waste and the DSI explores modeling and estimating future construction and demolition waste and provides a quantitative model which can simulate the effect of enacting policies. Using data science, this partnership will form the foundation for elucidating good policies to help Nashville meet the objective of zero waste by 2050.




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