By Greenville Journal Staff
Once upon a time, the outhouse was an afterthought – a utilitarian structure hidden from view.
These days bathrooms are a thing of beauty and source of pride within the home. Bernie Melloul believes this mindset – moving from a place of hiding waste to one of respecting it – should, and soon will, be applied to the way we handle our trash.
His company, SUTERA USA, is counting on it. SUTERA is focused on bringing semi-underground waste containment – an idea that has been popular in Europe for a generation – to the United States. A native of Canada and president of a Canadian-based construction company with offices in Greenville, Melloul has watched this idea proliferate in his home country and believes Greenville is the perfect place to start the American underground revolution.
“Greenville has a strong European influence with all the companies located here,” Melloul explains, citing examples such as BMW, Michelin and Bosch. “This is a European idea that has been turned into an American solution.”
The idea is fairly simple – replace the ubiquitous and unsightly dumpster with an underground well – but the benefits are many. Because the waste is stored vertically the units are self-compacting, which allows more trash to be accumulated before the unit needs to be emptied. This means fewer garbage trucks on the road less often, saving fuel, tires and carbon emissions.
Melloul says the units have both residential and commercial applications and sees neighborhoods of the future carving out a shared space for community waste disposal, thus eliminating the daily parade of trash and recycling trucks picking up from individual houses.
Commercial property owners can devote more space to revenue generating activities without having to allot the 90 feet of paved clearance required for traditional dumpsters. Storing waste underground also removes the risk of contaminated stormwater runoff. And because the portion of the unit that sits above ground can be covered with a decorative wrap, there’s even the potential for advertising revenue.
Melloul’s enthusiasm for semi-underground waste containment is contagious and the SUTERA team is working hard to spread it around. They’re currently in talks with a few forward-thinking municipalities and institutes of higher learning interested in leading the charge to take control of our trash.
“We generate waste – that’s not going to stop,” Melloul says. “It’s time to be responsible and come up with a solution.”