Jul 30.2021

How Can Smart Waste Management Solutions Improve Waste Collection?

How Can Smart Waste Management Solutions Improve Waste Collection?

Costly inefficiencies undermine urban waste collection. With IoT solutions, cities and waste management companies can improve operations, reduce costs, and enhance customer satisfaction.

Waste management is a global concern. According to a World Bank report, humans generate more than two billion tonnes of municipal solid waste every year, 33% of which is not managed in a manner that protects the environment. The same report projects waste production to grow by 70% in the next 40 years.

Fortunately, the world has begun looking into technology for the most efficient ways of dealing with everyday waste. The Internet of Things can significantly optimize collection services and reduce clean-up costs for cities worldwide. With IoT, municipal authorities and garbage collection companies can transition waste management into a sustainable, data-driven process.

Leveraging The Internet of Things for Waste Management

IoT-based waste management solutions are developed to improve end-to-end collection and recycling. These systems use connected sensors, gateways, and end-user applications to derive information like waste sources, waste types, disposal in bins, collection trips, and other relevant points along the waste chain.

Sensors can be used for different tasks. For example, ultrasonic sensors monitor bin fill levels, while thermal sensors check decay rates in organic waste bins. Waste collection agencies can also deploy motion and GPS sensors to track bin and truck locations.

The most prevalent IoT use case in waste management is collection optimization through real-time bin monitoring. In this model, a sensor is attached to a trash bin to measure its fill level and send a signal to the collecting personnel when the bin is full. That way, collectors can optimize their routes to minimize trips and fuel consumption.

How Can IoT Improve Waste Management?

The ballooning use of sensors, intelligent devices, and digital connectivity can potentially revolutionize the complicated, expensive, and time-consuming waste management process. Below are four remarkable ways that IoT can transform this sensitive sector.

1. On-Time Collection
Today, the typical waste collection process entails companies setting up fixed schedules and driving around predetermined routes. While this model minimizes the chances of missing a dumpster, it does not account for fill-level variations between trips. Therefore, many trash bins are found either underutilized or overflowing with waste.

With IoT monitoring, waste managers can implement a just-in-time collection process, where routes are updated daily, depending on currently full dumpsters. When a bin is almost full, sensors send alerts to collectors, who include it in their next trip.

2. Lower Costs
Smart dumpsters can transmit their real-time fill level data to waste collectors. An IoT platform can then use this information to determine optimum routes for collection trucks, which exclude bins that are still empty. Shorter trips lead to lower fuel consumption and workforce costs.

3. Data analysis
Smart waste management is more than just monitoring and route optimization. After all, the real value of IoT is the data it collects. Most IoT solutions come with data analytics features to help users make the best use of collected information.

For waste managers, analytics can help determine future waste generation trends for predictive decision-making. Data collected from garbage bins can also inform clean-up teams about the most polluted areas and help tackle waste more proactively from the sources.

4. Efficient Recycling
Recycling can be a much better way to manage waste than streamlining waste collection. For example, finding ways to recycle electronic parts can help to minimize landfills to a much greater extent than garbage collectors would achieve. Electronic manufacturers can set up digital records of components like the battery and display. Once a device dies, the user can use their phone to scan a QR code and activate the IoT record. The manufacturer can then organize a pick-up of the old device for recycling.

Data collected from IoT systems can also give waste managers an accurate view of the type of waste specific areas produce. That way, they can know which demographics require more resources or education for recycling.

Existing IoT-powered Waste Management Solutions

Despite being relatively new in the waste management scene, IoT is already manifesting itself in intriguing ways.

Sensoneo, a Slovakia-based smart waste management solution provider, develops waste monitoring solutions that enable cities to understand the complexities of waste production better. By combining sensors, the cloud, and a mobile app, the monitoring system can deliver accurate data about bin fill levels, ensuring that garbage collectors only collect full bins. Better fill level visibility also helps collectors optimize waste collection routes, vehicle loads, trip frequencies, and bin distribution.

Another groundbreaking solution, the CleanCUBE, utilizes solar energy to compact waste, enabling bins to hold up to eight times more waste than usual. As waste fills up the CleanCUBE, its sensors monitor the fill level and activate compaction when the bin is full. The collected data is sent to a cloud-based platform, where analytics can reveal valuable patterns regarding waste collection.

In the U.S., states are embracing Bigbelly’s smart city applications as effective add-ons to their waste management systems. Bigbelly offers a wide range of solutions, from solar-powered trash compacting bins to comprehensive bin monitoring systems that provide real-time collection notifications and insights for improving waste operations.

Since 2009, the Netherlands has been installing underground trash bins in major cities to collect larger waste quantities in one go. Today, over 10,000 units have been installed below sidewalks. Most of these bins are sensor-equipped, enabling waste management officials to monitor their fill levels remotely and set up dynamic schedules to empty them.

The Future of IoT-Powered Waste Management

Thanks to a rapidly growing community of conscious developers, more and more IoT solutions are cropping up to answer pressing sustainability questions. For waste management, IoT marketplaces are swarming with products that companies and authorities can deploy to clean up the streets with the best possible use of resources. Here at IoT2Market, you can find a myriad of solutions to transform your waste management process.

However, IoT can make deeper inroads into waste management with more support from the public and private sectors. Authorities and regulators can drive adoption through incentives and regulations, while communities can contribute with innovation and engagement. With this support, IoT waste management solutions will only multiply and improve down the road.

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