Ooooooh, a robot will pick up the trash will? Waste management is automated so you don't need us, is it? Well, who maintains and repairs those robots, did you ever think of that? Who turns those automated systems on and off? Go ahead and try to fire us, see what happens
— Kuroda Ken'ichi, Waste Disposal Technician on Eiennohana
Waste management technicians handle the processes required to manage waste, starting at the toilet or trash can and ending with its final disposal or recycling. They control the collection, transport, treatment and disposal of biological and industrial waste, providing a critically important role for society. Early into the space age it was realized that carelessly discarding material into vacuum was both dangerous and absurdly expensive. The cost required to get any item into orbit meant it was too valuable to throw away, especially when it could easily be recycled on space stations. Additionally, waste on newly settled planets must be carefully sterilized. Not doing so runs the risk of spreading Earth diseases to local wildlife, or giving decaying matter for local bacteria to adapt to, leading to human infections.
Despite the absolute necessity of sophisticated waste disposal systems, societies tended to view waste disposal technicians as simple menials. It became especially common on neo-barbarian
planets for social outcasts to be forced into the role. However, on some planets the waste disposal industry became the source of political power for certain groups. On Eiennohana
, yakuza clans control waste management, making their organizations essential to society while also providing the tools to make bodies disappear. Some yakuza celebrate this profession, holding annual festivals venerating and warding against small yokai named Akaname
that infest filthy bathrooms.