A good autonomous car has a trash compactor

Thoughts on Apple Car, Part 116

One part of the car sharing user experience that is mostly overlooked, is waste management and recycling.

Having people use a car rather than owning it, results in different behavior when keeping the car clean is concerned.

Of course, some people don’t even look after their own car, but still – in most countries, the car wash visit is a family event that has its own place in their Saturday schedules.

Self-driving cars need to self-clean

The new era of cars will basically be about fleet management, not unlike a fleet of planes. Every air travel company can sing a song of the cleaning cost involved with people who care more about their destination than what they leave behind on the way.

Until now, this issue has been handled by low-cost cleaning troops, who swoop in and out of trains and planes in minutes, getting the whole thing hygienic again.

That makes sense for synchronized travel, but not for asynchronous mobility like car sharing and autonomous vehicles.

Enter the compactor

I suspect that trash compactors will be huge for autonomous travel:

  • They solve the need to keep the space tidy.
  • They are already an American-dream product that let’s you forget about what happens to your trash after you put it in.
  • The self-driving car can dispose the compressed trash on its own, without anyone needing to hassle with the waste.

Imagine the experience: You put your trash in, like in a normal compactor. But it waits until you get out until it makes an noise. When it’s full, it loads off via some interface with a recycling company.

Why would Apple do that?

Apple has been vocal and hyperactive about its environmental initiatives for years. It’s one of the few companies who gets a 100% renewable energy stamp on all of its buildings and stores. Remember, Apple car will be just like a room, inspired by Apple retail design.

The woman leading this effort is Lisa Jackson:

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives.

Surprisingly but rightfully so, she’s one of the few Apple VPs who gets more air time in the media than others.

She recently published the Apple report on their environmental and social initiatives efforts. The section on waste starts with:

We’re committed to making sure all the waste created by our own facilities and in our supply chain is reused, recycled, composted, or when necessary, converted into energy.

Apple made its commitment to a cleaner environment tangible in all products. Also in what they choose not to do: Cheap plastic iPhone cases or screen protector films. They leave that to others. Most customers even keep the packaging, which is recyclable.

Back to trash:

At our corporate offices and retail stores, we’re creating robust recycling and composting programs to minimize the environmental impact of the waste we produce. In fiscal year 2017, we generated 53,800 metric tons of waste, of which we diverted from landfill about 71 percent through recycling and composting. We continue to find ways to reduce the waste we send to landfill – like expanding composting at our corporate campuses and pursuing a zero waste effort at over 500 retail stores and at our headquarters in Santa Clara Valley, which includes more than 200 buildings.

Have you seen any trash cans in Apple stores?

We complete regular audits of the Transportation, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (TSDF), where hazardous waste is ultimately sent to be treated, recycled, or incinerated.

Read all about it:

I think Lisa will play a bigger role in the development of Apple Car, because environment, policy and social initiatives are key to making the car a success in society.

She also got the drive.