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Restatement problem definition technique

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Studies
Wordcount: 1484 words Published: 28th Apr 2017

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Task 1

The purpose of the task is to choose one of the scenarios and to apply the Present state/Desired state, Duncker Diagram and Statement/Restatement problem definition technique.

The scenario 1 is about the problem associated with the recycling of post-consumer waste. It has been observed that even in the most cooperative and environment conscious communities, bins of recyclable waste contains 10% of wrong recyclable or non-recyclable material. For disposing non-recyclable material present in recyclable bins, recycling company has to spend lot of money. The problem needs investigation from the recycling company CEO’s point of view.

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Summary of additional information gathered

Generation of waste is strongly associated to population and urbanization [1]. Improvement of existing waste management technique is a prime concern for developing countries. In past, the most inexpensive practice for disposing waste was to place it in landfills. Despite the fact that the landfills were used to manage the waste, the need for restitution of the landfills, release of toxic gases, limited accessibility of the land for the landfills etc., still remains a great challenges for metropolitan cities. The ever increasing post-consumer waste has many adverse effects on the health of people, such as pollution of underground water and soil, bad smell from landfills and release of green house gases like CO2 and CH4 [1].

The concept of 3R’s which says reduce, reuse and recycle has become a key notion for waste management. The finest way to manage waste is not to create it. Generation of waste should be minimized at household level by avoiding excess use of non-environmental friendly goods. Recycling is the also one of the best option for waste management as it offers several advantages like utilization of waste which would otherwise be dumped in landfills and also decrease in use of new resources [2].

Novel methods of sorting non-recyclable waste from recyclable should be brought in use. The production capacity of paper in Malaysia has reached up to 1,300,000 T/year [3] but it is still low as compared to the consumption of paper there. Paper mills in Malaysia are now relying on machines which can sort different grades of paper. After sorting, high quality paper can be recycled. Malaysian paper mills are saving lot of money, energy, reducing the amount of landfills, reducing incineration and above all conserving their natural resources [3].

Shutting down of Freshkills Landfills in Staten Island in 2001 has strained the city of New York to find other methods of waste management. To dispose huge amount of waste, New York City is exporting parts of its waste to Virginia and its neighboring state. Remarkable increase in disposal tipping fees in recent years has forced New York City to find other methods for waste management. Recycling provides a striking alternative as it helps in decreasing pollution, providing employments and preserving energy. Municipal Corporation in New York City is now relying on materials recovery facility (MRF). MRF collects waste, segregates wrong or non recyclable waste from recyclable waste, recycle the waste and stores it as raw material for manufacturing industry. By doing this, City of New York is saving nearly $46 million per year from the total amount it spends today for waste disposal [4].

Present state/Desired State Technique

Discussion: The present state talks about the presence of wrong or non-recyclable material whereas desired state talks about maximizing company’s profit by proper separation and disposal of non-recyclable waste. There is no match between the present state and the desired state. Further reworking of statements is required.

Discussion: These states are matched, but there is no clear difference between the present and the desired state. Desired state somewhat solves the issue in present state i.e. company has to spend money for disposing non-recyclable waste. Actual problem is not resolved yet therefore further reworking of solution is required.

Discussion There is perfect one to one mapping between present and desired state. The problem addressed in present state is completely resolved in desired state. The desired state focuses on attaining zero percent contamination in recyclable bins. Therefore, if there is no non-recyclable or wrong recyclable material in recyclable bin there is no point in disposing it and there is no cost for disposing it. These statements can therefore be considered as the best statements for actual problem.

Duncker Diagram

Statement-Restatement Technique

Original problem statement: Bins of recyclable material contain 10% of wrong or non-recyclable material and recycling company has to spend money for its disposal.

Trigger 1: Emphasizing on different words and phrases

  1. Bins of recyclable material contain 10% of wrong or non-recyclable material and recycling company has to spend money for its disposal.
  2. Is there any other way to collect waste?

  3. Bins of recyclable material contain 10% of wrong or non-recyclable material and recycling company has to spend money for its disposal.
  4. How can we reduce percentage of wrong or non-recyclable material?

  5. Bins of recyclable material contain 10% of wrong or non-recyclable material and recycling company has to spend money for its disposal.
  6. Can we make use of these wrong or non-recyclable materials?

    -Some materials like used polythene bags can be reused as trash bags in houses for trash cans. In this way consumer can reduce the use of non-recyclable material.

  7. Bins of recyclable material contain 10% of wrong or non-recyclable material and recycling company has to spend money for its disposal.

How can we reduce cost for disposing non-recyclable waste?

Trigger 2: Substituting the explicit definition

Containers of reusable materials are contaminated with non-reusable materials that are in fact, expensive to dump.

Trigger 3: Making opposite sentence

How to make bins of recyclable material contamination free, thus company has to spend no money for its disposal?

Trigger 4: Use relaxing constraints

Bins of recyclable material are never contaminated and there is no cost for its disposal.

This technique helps us to think in different way. It motivates to develop a method so that recycle bins never get any contamination.

Trigger 5: Replacing persuasive words

The problem statement implies that we obviously want zero contamination of recyclable waste so that company has to spend no money for its disposal.

Thus, if we could avoid contamination at source by marking the bins and classifying non-recyclable and recyclable waste for consumers.

Trigger 6: Expressing words in the form of equation

This statement can be expressed in equation form:

Contamination in recyclable bin is directly proportional to presence of non-recyclable material.


By replacing, proportionality sign (with proportionality constant (k).

This trigger helps us in thinking in alternative way. What factors affect the value of k?

How can we minimize the presence of non-recyclable material?

Proper tagging of bins, classification of non-recyclable materials and recyclable materials for consumers, reducing use of non-recyclable material etc. can help in reducing contamination of recycle bins.


  1. Moldes, Y. Cendon, M. T. Barral, “Evaluation of municipal solid waste compost as a plant growing media component, by applying mixture design,” Bioresource Technology, vol. 98, no. 16, November 2007.
  2. V. W. Y Tam, C. M. Tam, “A review on the viable technology for construction waste recycling,” Resources, Conservation and Recycling, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 209-221, June 2006.
  3. M. O. Rahman, M. A. Hannan, E. Scavino, A. Hussain, H. Basri, “An Efficient Paper Grade Identification Method for Automatic Recyclable Waste Paper Sorting,” European Journal of Scientific Research, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 96-103, 2009.
  4. A. J. Dubanowitz, “Design of a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) For Processing the Recyclable Materials of New York City’s Municipal Solid Waste,” M.S. thesis, Dept.Earth and Environmental Eng., Columbia Univ., May 2000 [online]. Available at http://www.seas.columbia.edu/earth/dubanmrf.pdf, retrieved on 09/29/09.


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