Waste management technologies let companies, households, and municipalities track their trash from creation to its final resting place. As the world’s population swells, urbanizes, and comes to rely more heavily on disposable goods, waste management technology is growing increasingly important. Old systems are breaking down, but smart waste technology is leading to cleaner cities, improved commerce, and a healthier environment.
While some modern waste management technologies require economic and legislative power to take advantage of, others are simple enough for a single waste management company to put into practice. There are an increasing number of options for better waste management through modern IoT technologies.
Urban centers around the world are cutting environmental and budget costs by using fill-level sensors in waste containers, for example, and single stream recycling lets customers drop all their trash in one smart bin that can sort it for them. The Internet of Things (IoT) helps waste management companies optimize their pickup routes based on real-time data, and modern garbage dumps are using technology to convert certain types of waste into energy. Here are five of the best waste management technologies that improve efficiency:
1. Solar-Powered Trash Compactors
In 2011, several cities around the world set up solar-powered trash compactors on streets that received heavy traffic. The products serve as trash bins where pedestrians can toss apple cores, packaging, uneaten snacks, and used tissues, just like regular trashcans. Waste management companies have claimed that these trash compactors reduce trash collection costs by 80%, a figure high enough to make budget-conscious urban governments take notice. Similar products are now working in more than 100 cities around the world, including Melbourne, Baltimore, Dublin, Ibague, and Ghent.
While the engineering behind these products may be complex, the concept is simple. Sensors in the device let it know when the trash inside is about to reach the top. This triggers the compactor to crush the items inside. Users can get up to eight times more space from the compactor than from a regular bin. Buyers can also purchase graphic wraps, ad space, or wi-fi routers to place on the compactors to generate income from them.
2. Plasma Waste Disposal
Still mainly in the development and testing phase, plasma waste disposal is used to destroy hazardous waste. Innovators believe it will be able to incinerate all kinds of trash, even using it as fuel to generate electricity, powering water purifiers and battery cells. Experts believe the plasma system will be able convert between 10 and 500 tons of trash into clean, usable energy each day.
Plasma waste disposal is the only form of waste management technology that will be able to handle e-waste at scale since electronic items are not biodegradable. Singapore and the State of Madhya Pradesh, India are already experimenting with plasma gasification, and other governments could soon do the same. In the meantime, plasma waste disposal remains a potential solution to overfilled garbage disposal sites.
3. Electronics Recycling Kiosks
Almost 100% of electronic waste can be recycled, but only about 16% actually is. Electronic waste, or e-waste, makes up one of the fastest growing and most difficult to manage segments of global waste production. One company is using people’s desire for easy money to offer a solution. ecoATM devices pay customers for used electronics at more than 2,800 kiosks in malls, department stores, and grocery outlets across the U.S.
Like other waste management technologies, ecoATM works off a simple concept in which a customer brings his or her used handheld device to a kiosk and follows a series of electronic prompts. The ecoATM determines the value of the tablet or phone and offers it to the customer who can receive instant cash. ecoATM’s parent company Gazelle claims it is diverting more than 14 million tablets and smartphones from landfills each year with this system.
4. Self-Organizing Trash Bins
Waste management companies are now producing IoT-capable trash bins that recognize, sort, and compress trash so the customer doesn’t have to. They have been billed as “the world’s smartest wastebins.” By removing the need for busy human beings to go through the garbage, they make recycling more prevalent.
The benefits of the technology include saving time and money on waste management and enhancing sustainability by making recycling easier and less stressful. Like other smart containers, purchasers can customize the exteriors of these trash bins with advertisements, and many are capable of recording and delivering information about their contents in real time using the IoT.
5. Sensa Networks’ Fullness Monitoring
Sensa Networks’ fullness monitoring sensors are some of the best waste management technologies for improving efficiency and saving money. This company’s IoT solution uses fullness sensors in large rubbish containers to signal for pickups and issue purchase orders only when the container has reached maximum capacity. The system employs machine-to-machine (M2M) wireless communications that automate and optimize waste management operations.
Sensa works at a high-volume scale to help waste management companies forecast pickups, track performance trends, and optimize their routes, saving money on staff, fuel, maintenance, and insurance. Sensa’s customers can improve their environmental score by reducing time on the road. In fact, a waste management company using Sensa to develop efficient approaches to pickups can slash road time by as much as 50%. Learn more about Sensa Networks’ fullness monitoring on their website.