Ballistic 2060

The 2060 series dives into BAM’s research on how our society will prevent runaway global warming, taken straight from the desks of BAMMERS hard at work on planning and infrastructure projects.


Wet trash, dry trash, recyclables... everyone is maddeningly aware that per capita trash production is rapidly increasing. Our post-pandemic groceries, meals, clothes, and cocktail deliveries have us all feeling guilty about the associated amounts of waste. What can you do as an individual to help? Our series will explore the steps that can be taken to treat waste, and how to reduce waste at the source (you).

ONE KILOGRAM Chances are this is how much trash you will produce today, if you live in a major city like Beijing or Shanghai. On an average day Shanghai produces about 33,000 tons of trash. To put this inperspective, the infamous ship which lodged itself in the Suez Canal weighs approximately 200,000 tons.

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It goes without saying that reducing our consumption and preventing our creation of trash is the first step we can all take to helpingthe planet. As we look towards the future we face a PARADIGM SHIFT in waste management. Since 1960 the landfill has been the mostwidely used waste management option, and avoiding trash altogether was the least used method. Looking to 2060, we clearly cannot do things the same way our parents did. Products, services, and our own lifestyles must undergo fundamental redesigns to eliminate unnecessary waste. As with any ‘disruption,’ old ways will suffer shocks and new opportunities will arise.

Although the paradigm shift is already underway, globally landfills are still the primary method for dealing with waste. In China more than half of all waste will end up in the landfill (about 58%). The United States is close (about 49%).

Yet land for landfills is expensive. In China land is VERY expensive. And landfills are essentially pits of extracted resources that are just lumped together and forgotten about. The embedded energy within the waste is...wasted.


The landfill is a living beast, an amorphous, settling shape with a complex and unique mixture of solids, liquids, and yes gas.

The bacteria breaking down the landfills release both Methane and Carbon Dioxide--LOTS of it. This is where global warming comes in. Methane is 28-36X more potent of a greenhouse gas than carbon. And landfills, the beasts, are some of the hugest emitters of Methane on the planet.

Landfills are also leaky. Percolated rainfall through the waste, collects in troughs surrounding today’s landfills. This landfill soup is called ‘leachate,’ and it can contain toxic ingredients which require a multi step treatment process to filter it to clean stream water.

The leachate begins flowing as the landfill is being filled, and continues to flow at high volumes for up to 30 years after the landfill is closed. Thus even in landfills that have been closed for decades you will still see leachate tanks hard at work.

While the best way to deal with landfills is to eliminate, reduce, or recycle our waste, we still have landfills for the foreseeable future. Clever solutions have evolved to optimize contemporary landfills.

To start with the leachate, today’s landfills are constructed on pads of impermeable materials and lined with porous pipes which can absorb the large volumes of leachate the landfill will produce over its active lifetime.

Methane, aside from being a potent greenhouse gas and the primary chemical of human farts, is also highly flammable. (Many landfills have caught fire as the methane seeping to the surface ignites and starts the adjacent waste material.) Landfills today utilize methane collection systems. In many landfills the extracted methane is processed and utilized for heating or electricity generation.

Methane collected from Landfill Gas is considered energy derived from a sustainable resource (garbage). Sales of heating gas or electricity by landfills creates considerable income which can be utilized by municipalities to improve waste infrastructure.

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Yet we can still do much better.

Landfills can be better planned not only to extract more energy from the waste, but to also repair the environmental damage caused by dedicating valuable land to store waste.

BAM has selected three cases below, which generally follow the same principles of decommissioning a landfill by building a protective outer cover, capturing the methane, channeling it to be purified and sold to consumers, or flared to decrease its green house gas potency.

HIRIYA TRASH MOUNTAIN, TEL AVIV Protecting Endangered Rivers

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As Tel Aviv expanded from the 1970’s to 1990’s almost all of its waste was sent inland, East of the urbanized zone. Over time the amount of trash became so immense that it became a ‘mountain’ visible from the city. Eventually, seabirds attracted to the trash pile interfered with flights to the Ben Gurion airport. ‘Trash Mountain’ had another disastrous problem: it was flanked by two rivers which would flood in the rainy season and flow through the town. The trash mountain’s leachate and blow-away trash were polluting the rivers and setting the stage for environmental destruction.

By the 1990’s the local city began to work with landscape architect Peter Latz on the problems of the trash mountain. Latz and his team developed an economical solution, rerouting the rivers into a floodplain and reinforcing the mountain.

Although most of the images of the project focus on the details of the top of the mountain, the icing on the cake, Latz's most understated piece of the plan is perhaps the most impactful: re-coursing of the rivers in a newly expanded flood plane.

FRESHKILLS, NEW YORK Storm Surge Protection

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The site of Freshkills Landfill was formerly a swamp chosen by Robert Moses. Despite its importance as a thriving fish and bird habitat, Moses insisted to fill it with the goal to develop high rise apartments. But Freshkills landfilling far exceeded the original purpose of merely filling the low swamplands. By the 1980’s New York was producing as much trash as Tokyo and London combined. Freshkills would never become suitable for housing.

By the 2000’s New York started shipping its trash to other cities, and a designers were invited to propose solutions for the site. Landscape architect James Corner won the project with ananti-design approach: accordingto a Smithsonian Magazine article on the the project, “the landscape itselfis being designed by the the birds,squirrels, bees, trees, and breezes...”

Despite the anti-design rhetoric, the fact remains that the ongoing transformation of the landfill into a park has substantially reduced storm surge in the area. Statistics from Hurricane Sandy show a direct reduction of damage in the surrounding Staten Island neighborhoods compared to their surrounding areas. As landfills are often located on coastal zones, Freshkills provides a template for reducing future storm surge.


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Former landfills can also become important cultural elements of the City, to the point that people completely forget they were landfills.

The East Bay of Berkeley California was used as a disorganized dumping site throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s. Construction waste and all municipal waste was dumped into the Bay, creating a massive unplanned and uncontrolled landfill. Due to the lack of proper planning and no ecological protection, methane fires were very common. In the later 1960’s and into the 1970’s steps were taken by the City of Berkeley to cover the landfill. By the 1980’s Berkeley was able to acquire soil removed from under San Francisco through tunneling for the Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) system, and Cesar Chavez was created with soil zones from 2m to 10m in depth.

The landforms of Cesar Chavez Park are sculpted with gentle hills which give the sensation of a rolling meadow. The kingpin hill of the park has become known as Kite Hill. Every July the hill now holds an internationally famous Berkeley Kite Festival.


With an eye towards 2060, it is vitally important to understand how landfills are a critical part of our current waste infrastucture. We should also note that each of the aforementioned landfills were constructed BEFORE safe ecological practices were put in place. However through design and engineering each landfill can develop a masterplan which better protects the surrounding environment, and can transition between an open waste pit and an ecological park. The results can not only provide cultural park spaces, but play important ecological functions like water filtration and storm surge protection. Over time the landfills can transition from unpleasant infrastructure to valuable pieces of our future cities.

Coming up next in our 2060 series, BAM will look at the new technology allowing us to safely extract more embedded energy from our waste—and we will see why more countries are beginning to view trash as a resource.



湿垃圾、干垃圾、可回收物品……大家终于深刻地意识到,人均垃圾产量正在迅速增长。大流行后期的食杂百货、食物、衣服和鸡尾酒配送产生了大量的垃圾,无一不让我们对此感到愧疚。 但是,作为个体,我们为减少浪费可以做些什么呢?在接下来的系列文章中,我们将针对垃圾的处理的步骤及从源头(你)减少垃圾产生的方法进行探讨。




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Sources: BAM developed this graphic based on the European Union and the Zero Waste International Alliance models.




气体巨兽 垃圾填埋是一头活生生的巨兽,它没有具体的形态,是一种复杂而独特的固液气态混合物。 细菌分解垃圾时会释放出大量的甲烷和二氧化碳,同时,这两种气体也是全球变暖的源头。甲烷的温室效应比碳高28-36倍。垃圾填埋这头巨兽是地球上最大的甲烷排放者之一。

Alt text Source: “Global Methane Emissions and Mitigation Opportunities” (PDF). Global Methane Initiative. 2020.


垃圾填埋过程中,也会存在液体渗漏情况。雨水渗入垃圾,流入垃圾填埋场周围的沟槽处,这种液体被称为“渗滤液”,其中可能含有毒成分,需要经过多步处理才能净化。 渗滤液在填埋时开始流出,而且在填埋场关闭后30年的时间里,仍有大量的渗滤液继续产生。因此,在已经关闭了数十年的垃圾填埋场中,依然随处可见正在工作的渗滤液储罐。 想要处理垃圾填埋带来的一系列问题,最佳方法是消除、减少或循环再造我们产生的垃圾,但在可预见的将来,我们仍需要大量的填埋处理。目前,已经衍化出一些巧妙的解决方案,可以优化现代的垃圾填埋方法。

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首先从渗滤液开始,现在的垃圾填埋场建造在防渗层上的,排列着一些多孔渗水管,可以吸收垃圾填埋场使用期间内产生的大量渗滤液。 其次针对废气,甲烷是主要的温室气体,同时也是人类屁中的主要化学物质,除此之外它还具有高度易燃的特性(很多垃圾填埋场着火,都是因为甲烷渗出地表点燃了附近垃圾。)。现在,很多填埋场使用了甲烷收集系统,提取出的甲烷经过处理后可以用于供热或发电。 从垃圾填埋的废气中收集的甲烷属于来自可再生资源(垃圾)中的能源。垃圾填埋场产生的热力和电力可以创造可观的资源价值、经济价值,同时有助于固废处置设施的二次投资提升。


然而,我们可以做得更好。 对垃圾填埋进行更好的规划,不仅可以从废弃物中提取更多的能源,也可以修复将垃圾储存在宝贵的土地上而带来的一系列环境破坏。

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HIRIYA 垃圾山, 特拉维夫 保护濒危河流

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1970年代到1990年代城市扩张过程中,特拉维夫(Tel Aviv)几乎所有的垃圾都被运送到了市区东部的内陆区域。随着时间的流逝,垃圾的数量日趋巨大,以至于堆积成了城市中肉眼可见的“山”。更为甚之,被垃圾堆吸引的海鸟还干扰到了飞往本古里安机场的航班。 “垃圾山”还有另一个灾难性问题:它的两侧是两条河流,河水常在雨季泛滥,有时还会流经附近镇区。垃圾山的渗滤液和吹散的垃圾污染了河流,为环境破坏埋下了隐患。 到了20世纪90年代,当地城市开始与景观设计师彼得·拉兹(Peter Latz)合作,希望能够解决垃圾山的问题。拉兹和他的团队提出了一种经济的解决方案:将河流改道进河漫滩,并加固了山体。 虽然对该项目大多数的关注都是聚焦在山顶那些锦上添花的细节上,但在拉兹的规划中,最低调的部分才是最有影响力的——在新扩大的漫滩上重新引导了河流。

FRESHKILLS填埋场, 纽约 风暴保护

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到2000年,纽约开始将其垃圾运送到其他城市,并邀请设计师为该区域提供解决方案。景观设计师詹姆斯·科纳(James Corner)以“反设计”的理念赢得了该项目。史密森尼杂志(Smithsonian Magazine)关于该项目的文章中提到,“景观本身是由鸟类,松鼠,蜜蜂,树木和微风设计的……”

不管 “反设计”理论如何,实际项目发展态势良好,随着垃圾填埋场向公园的不断改造,该地区遭受风暴的次数锐减。据桑迪飓风的统计数据,史泰登岛(Staten Island)附近社区遭受风暴袭击的次数比周边区域都要少。由于大多数垃圾填埋场都位于沿海地区,Freshkills案例为环境优化、减少未来风暴潮提供了一个可供参考的示范。

CESAR CHAVEZ 公园, 伯克利 为居民所设计的公园

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废弃的垃圾填埋场也可以成为城市的重要文化元素,精巧的设计会使人们会完全忘记那里的原貌。 在整个1950年代和1960年代,加州伯克利东湾都被用作杂乱无章的垃圾倾倒场。建筑垃圾和所有城市垃圾都被倒入海湾,形成了一个巨大的无规划、无控制的垃圾场。由于缺乏合理的规划和生态保护,甲烷引起的火灾屡见不鲜。在1960年代后期到1970年代,伯克利采取了措施覆盖了整个垃圾填埋场。到了1980年代,伯克利通过海湾地区快速运输(BART)系统的隧道运来了旧金山下的土壤,在覆土深度达2m至10m区域上创造了CesarChavez公园。 Cesar Chavez公园的地形被设计为平缓的山丘,给人以绵延起伏的草地的感觉,公园的主峰山被称为风筝山,现在每年的七月,这座山都会举行国际著名的伯克利风筝节。


着眼于2060年,我们必须了解垃圾填埋在废弃物处理基础架构中所处的关键位置。同时,我们也应该注意到,尽管上述案例中所有垃圾填埋场都是在实施安全生态措施之前建造的,但是通过后来的设计和工程,每个垃圾填埋场都制定出了一个总体规划,可以更好保护周边环境,也从露天垃圾场完美转型为生态公园。这不仅提供了文化公园空间,还可以发挥重要的生态功能,例如水质净化、防风暴潮等。随着时间的推移,垃圾填埋场将会从令人不快的基础设施转变为未来城市中宝贵的一部分。 在“2060系列”下一板块中,BAM将着眼于探讨新技术-如何安全的从废弃物中提取蕴藏的资源,而且将深入剖析越来越多的国家将废弃物视为资源的原因。