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One of the biggest global concerns currently is the environment, and waste management. The world generates 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste annually, with at least 33% of it not managed in an environmentally safe manner, per The World Bank report.
IoT is one technology that towns and communities can employ to better manage waste. This can be seen in the way IoT technologies are already mainstream for modern supply chains. IoT management systems have also proven their worth in optimising and automation processes in this industry.
The use of IoT is growing rapidly, along with smart devices and sensors and machine-to-machine connectivity. All of these technologies have the potential to reduce unnecessary expenses because of operational inefficiencies in waste collection processes. The urban waste collection process holds the key to it as it’s quite complex and time- as well as resource-consuming.
It is expected that close to 70 per cent of the global population will be living in urban areas by 2050(State of green). High levels of air pollution, which has been proven to have a negative effect on the health of millions of people worldwide, is currently being caused by solid waste landfills in and around cities. Another deterring factor is the rise of the global population growth and consumption of resources for material goods.
The goal for the future includes creating more urban waste collection. Urban waste provides a largely untapped source of recyclable materials for production, reusable goods as well as a source of both heat and electricity when properly utilised in efficient waste-to-energy plants.
As disposal units’ weight can vary by day, week and season, community people or waste management companies can attach a sensor to a dumpster to measure its fill level.
These “smart” dumpsters can then transmit their real-time fill level information to waste collectors. Using this data, the IoT enterprise solution can select optimum routes for waste collectors with areas in urgent need of cleanup on priority while avoiding disposal units that still have room. This results in an efficient pickup process, which doesn’t consider empty trash bins, saving fuel as well as manpower costs. The sensors of these “smart dumpsters” can collect location, temperature and fill ratio info, then send it to the main cloud servers. There, the data helps to optimize vehicle routes, or estimate the frequency of visits and fill levels.
The data gathered from the “smart” dumpsters also help in reducing the number of delayed or missed pickups. If the sensors detect that the dumpster is full, it will automatically alert the authorities. That way, IoT waste management system can schedule this location for the next pickup. This makes the waste management process efficient and eliminates the overflow of trash bins.
The increase in consumer electronic devices appearing in landfill means an increase in both harmful chemicals and valuable components they often contain. Even very small devices such as a smartphone may leak lithium from its battery into the groundwater.
Then there is the fact that such devices also present an opportunity to more easily reclaim rare materials like gold than the effort to mine them in the first place. IoT offers a whole new set of opportunities for businesses to use digital twins of sanitation systems to recycle e-waste for precious and finite resources.
IoT technology can be of benefit by helping categorize the waste. Sorting and segregating waste need not continue to require a lot of man-hours. The next-generation “digital bins” can automate the categorization of this waste.
A good example can be of a Polish company Bin-e. It combines unique AI-based object recognition, fill level control and data processing to make waste processing more efficient. Its “Smart Waste Bins” can identify and sort waste into up to four categories: glass, paper, plastic, and metal. The bins also compress the waste and notify sanitation workers of fill levels for each waste category.
The connected devices record the speed at which the bins fill up throughout the day. Additionally, these devices monitor how often they empty the bins in various locations.
The value of IoT management systems can be seen in how they connect with other smart city systems. This combined statistical power has the potential to uncover a greater scope of correlation and optimization data. This can result in great potential benefits, such as planning the better distribution of garbage bins, eliminating incorrect disposal practices, and even reducing waste going to the landfill.
A growing collection of interlinked IoT devices are managing everyday urban operations and improving both citizen experiences and carbon footprint. With support from the public sector, IoT can provide more benefits for waste management. This can be done by regulation and incentives and private sectors through innovation and engaging with various state agencies to use IoT applications to build a better and more sustainable future.
If you are want to learn more about the role IoT can play in waste management, you can speak to one of the team members at Davra to explain how IoT technology can ease your waste management worries. Contact us today!
Brian McGlynn, Davra, COO
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