Sustainability Through Smarter City Waste Management

Lyn Church -
Sustainability Through Smarter City Waste Management
Illustration: © IoT For All

Did you know according to data from the World Bank, the global urban population produces over 2.01 billion tons of solid waste annually?

The same report states that if this trend were to continue, the amount of garbage produced is on track to reach 3.40 billion tons by 2050! This translates to a staggering increase in waste disposal expenses, with global garbage collection costs expected to top $375 billion by 2030.  

Fortunately, smart city initiatives drive innovation in the waste management sector to help alleviate this issue.

For instance, a fast-growing use case is the adoption of smart waste sensors in smart bins.

But what exactly are smart waste bins and how can Internet of Things (IoT) technology improve current waste management practices?

Smart Waste Bins 

Unlike their traditional counterparts, smart waste bins are often equipped with various sensors, connectivity features, and data analytics capabilities.

This is to improve city waste management and recycling efforts and make the process smarter and more sustainable for both businesses and consumers. Once the containers are full, the smart bin can be emptied, and waste streams easily diverted to the correct recycling facility.   

Adoption of smart bin technology is on the rise. According to the latest research from Frost & Sullivan, the installation of smart waste bins is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 64.1%, with a market valuation of US$5.42 billion in 2025.

Currently, three vital areas are driving this growth.

Data Analysis 

More data translates into better insights. Smart bins can record a host of data including the pace at which they fill up, how often they are emptied, and even what the bins contain.  

This real-time data unlocks endless possibilities. Essentially, richer data leads to better distribution of bins and eliminates incorrect disposal practices.

Assessing trends can improve the planning of collection and disposal processes, leading to a more effective allocation of waste management resources.

These smart bins can even be integrated with a mobile application. This means that citizens can get involved in improving waste management practices in their area by providing additional feedback. For example, if a bin is overflowing or damaged, feedback can be immediately sent to the waste management company or the city to optimize processes further. 

Route Optimization 

One process that can benefit from further optimization is route planning.

Traditionally, waste management systems have used a predefined route base. These are largely based on prior historical patterns to schedule waste collection, regardless of whether they are full or not.

This results in inefficient and costly rollouts in areas where waste collection is not needed, while overlooking areas that do.

Smart bins break this model by using data on fill level in real time. This allows operators to plan optimal collection routes and make pickup processes more efficient. As a result, waste management companies can save on both fuel as well as manpower.  

If a sensor detects that a bin is almost full, an automatic alert can also be sent to the waste management team to schedule an extra pickup before it overflows.  

It also helps with long-term planning of bin locations where more might be needed or reduced. Furthermore, cities can proactively plan around holidays and events where bin usage might increase significantly. 

Smart Recycling 

According to a report from the UN, a staggering 50 million tons of electronic waste is generated annually.

Discarded electronic devices often contain harmful chemicals, such as lithium from smart product batteries which can leach into groundwater. Not only is the disposal of electronic waste harmful to the environment, but it also sustains the informal recycling market.

These informal markets involve more than 18 million children and adolescents, some as young as five years of age. It not only puts them in hazardous conditions, but long-term chemical exposure also causes severe health issues.

Smart recycling initiatives powered by IoT can ensure safety standards are met at every stage of the reusable battery industry – from design and manufacturing to end-of-life. Once a battery is depleted, an alert can be sent to the manufacturer for pick up and recycling.

It will also ensure waste management companies adhere to new regulatory frameworks. For example, the upcoming EU battery regulation will replace the current batteries directive of 2006.

In Conclusion

If you’re looking at a smart bin solution, cellular connectivity offers cost and power-efficiency options that leverage existing networks while also having strong built-in security. These are ideal for smart city applications. 

Existing units can easily be retrofitted to reduce expenditures or wireless sensors can be pre-integrated into waste bins during production.

Wait no more – take the necessary steps toward creating long-lasting, positive change today.

Lyn Church - Project Manager, ZARIOT

ZARIOT is an award-winning cellular IoT connectivity provider that creates dynamic and secure solutions, delivered through unwavering partnerships. As an IoT Mobile Virtual Network Operator, we provide the best possible coverage in over 650+ local...
ZARIOT is an award-winning cellular IoT connectivity provider that creates dynamic and secure solutions, delivered through unwavering partnerships. As an IoT Mobile Virtual Network Operator, we provide the best possible coverage in over 650+ local...