26 November 2009

Trash Compactor Is Blingin’


Aesthetics of Survival ∕ Urban Environment

I have the feeling that Christmas has come early for the BSR, Berlin’s rad, bad, municipal sanitation department. Recently I saw one of their regular, box-shaped trash compactors munching away on some stinking neighborhood junk on the street outside my office. The orange and white company livery was looking particular fresh and buffed. The white bits were still super white, and the chrome exhaust pipe looked as though it had been polished by a team of NASA telescope engineers.

Then a few days back I caught sight of this thing:

Isn’t that a thing of awesome beauty? When did waste management get so darn æsthetic? All those orderly perpendicular lines converging into a rotating orange checker board pattern just have me dazzled. And just think about how far removed the pattern is from the fetid mass of refuse blending away in the pitch black interior. And the detailing: are those really day-glo pink bristles on the tank-mounted brooms?

Well it’s obvious that I need to know more. A quick search for the company name Faun turns up a super-nerdy, German language, vehicle-spotting site, dedicated to amassing thousands of amateur photos of every conceivable form of transport. There’s even a whole page dedicated to waste disposal vehicles, God bless them, on which we read that this is most probably a Mercedes Benz ECONIC 2629 with Faun trash compactor. Sorry, guys, but that’s not nearly specific enough. If you’ve got a nerdy-need-to-know vibe going, then you’ve got to drill deeper. I’m after serial numbers and payload specifications. I’ve sent out an email to the BSR’s press department requesting more information, so, watch this space.

*** Update 27.11.09 ***

So, just had a chat with Dr. Thomas Klöckner of the BSR’s executive affairs office for public relations, and it seems that the vehicle above is something of a rarity. Asked whether the BSR just took delivery of some new equipment, he quipped that the BSR are continuously right up to date with the latest hot-shit kit in waste disposal technology. But the machine in question, the Trommelpresse (drum press) shown above, is currently undergoing field testing and is not yet in citywide operation.

Dr. Klöckner explained that these machines are basically trash compactors on wheels, and that 60% of the fuel used by a traditional rubbish truck goes into the press, and not into the engine. The cylindrical drum press, though, has a big screw on the inside, which continually pushes the rubbish to the back. To empty itself, it simply turns in the opposite direction. The æsthetic economy of the drum is also matched by a real economy of material: less machine means more trash per truck, which means lower overheads.

So that’s basically the low-down on the Faun Trommelpressausatz. Thanks to Dr. Thomas Klöckner.

*** Update 28.11.09 ***

Dr. Klöckner got back in touch to say that the truck I filmed actually belongs to the BSR daughter company Berlin Recycling, and is being fed with paper.