Americans generate roughly 250 million tons of trash every single year and only 34% of it is being recycled. There are several other stats that reveal shocking trash tendencies despite the environmental awareness. The complexity of waste management has never been so extreme before, which is why today this industry employs nearly half a million people who undertake the gigantic task of disposing of at least 4.4 pounds of waste for every single American day in and day out.

To overcome these challenges and to counteract the negative impacts of landfill waste on the environment, the waste management industry is rethinking strategies and revamping waste handling and disposal systems for superior efficiency and enhanced environmental protection. Hence, smart waste management technology comes into the picture!

This post contains vital information about smart waste management and how it works. You will also come across the benefits of smart waste management and its disadvantages! The post wraps with the various applications of smart waste management. But first of all, let’s understand how cities currently manage waste.

What are the Current Waste Management Practices?

The collection services currently work on auto mode for collecting and emptying trash. This system increases the chances of emptying a half bin resulting in a waste of fuel and other resources.

What is Smart Waste Management?

Smart waste management is efficient and economical waste management using technology to better the environment. This innovation in waste management is equipped with the internet of things. It collects real-time data and monitors the process to optimize it.

Why is Smart Waste Management Crucial?

Currently, only 30% of recyclable material gets recycled in America. The 70% is being wasted in landfills and waterways. This shows the non-capacity of conventional waste management systems in dealing with an increasing amount of trash produced by the growing population.

There is a need to adopt a modern and smart waste management system to bridge this gap of efficiency and cost-effectiveness and minimize the trash in landfills.

How does Smart Waste Management Technology Work?

Smart waste management technology tracks the bin level when it is ready to be emptied. The quickest route to collect the garbage is also derived. So the concern of littering and fuel wastage is taken care of. More information on various tools and applications to attain these results is coming up in this post.

What are the Benefits of Smart Waste Management?

Below are 10 key areas that are undergoing a massive transformation in the waste management industry

  • Improved Recycling Rates

    Recycling and waste management companies are investing in improving their tools and techniques. The recent development in single-stream recycling where people can dump all the trash in one bin has reduced the sorting burden on people and drastically improved the rate of recycling. This has also reduced the truck count and ultimately the emissions as well.

  • Automated Waste Collection

    Technology has transformed the way waste management works with automated sensors that trigger instant alerts every time a container is full and needs service. Other innovative tools that are making the sorting process fast and easy include optical sorters, magnets and advanced disk screens. The trucks have also switched from diesel to natural gas for quieter and cost-effective operations. The use of logistics software, in-vehicle monitors, and mobile apps has further simplified the waste management process while ensuring driver safety.

  • Route Optimization

    Optimal routing is essential to protecting the environment and reducing hazardous emissions which is why companies are investing in advanced systems and optimization software. They are now employing automated trucks that are installed with robotic arms for saving time and effort along existing routes. Technology has made point-to-point pickups eco-friendly and financially viable while improving energy-efficiency.

  • Landfill Modernization

    Harnessing the power of science and scale, the waste management industry has modernized garbage dumps. Highly engineered landfills that comply with federal and state regulations ensure complete protection of human health and the surrounding environment. Solar panel systems integrated with geomembrane are facilitating the production of sustainable energy while preventing carbon from re-entering the environment.

  • Enhanced Safety

    Recycling and waste management companies are making consistent efforts to improve safety which is of prime importance to an industry running several 30-ton trucks through residential areas. All of their drivers are subjected to rigorous training at designated facilities to reduce the rate of accidents and injuries.

  • Quick Turnaround Times

    Bigger waste management companies have also invested in feature-rich customer-facing technology. They are leveraging user-friendly mobile apps to facilitate prompt service, extra pickups, and bill payment through push notifications. Technology has greatly reduced the complexity and cost of modern-day waste management systems making them all the more efficient, safer, and productive while reducing their environmental impact.

  • Recycling plastic waste through chemical treatment

    Chemical recycling of plastics implies pyrolysis technology, which is entirely related to gasification. The transformation of plastic waste into liquid hydrocarbon can be beneficial to produce new products.

  • Turning waste into energy

    Turning waste into power is one of the most significant innovations in the waste management industry. Digesters are a kind of machinery that can be used on a variety of waste where biogas can be converted into energy using heat and pressure.

  • Innovative ways to recycle valuable metals

    Technology like plasma arc recycling help recycles precious metals like platinum, palladium, and iridium which are used in chemical and auto industries.

  • Applications of Smart Waste Management

    Advanced sensors can inform waste management companies that bins are full and need to be serviced. New types of screening technology can segregate recyclables quickly and efficiently. From advanced trash can sensors to self-sorting trash cans, garbage collection has never been so high-tech. Here are a few technologies:

    1. Ultrasonic trash can sensor:
      An ultrasonic trash can sensor regularly informs you how full your waste container is. This aids in reducing the cost that accompanies overfilling a dumpster.
    2. Solar-powered trash compactor:
      A solar-powered waste compactor is a smart device that reads a waste bin’s fill level in real-time and triggers automatic compaction of the waste, effectively increasing the bin’s capacity by up to 5-8 times.
    3. Image-based trash can sensors:
      Image-based trash can sensors are GPS-based and automatically monitor fullness and contents. It also determines which containers need service each day, then schedules routes and evenly distributes jobs to drivers.
    4. Instant payment in return for e-waste:
      This technology proposes instant payment for electronic waste devices. It is a convenient option to dispose of gadgets like smartphones and tablets from landfills and later be recycled or refurbished.
    5. Waste management apps:
      Waste management companies have developed apps that help manage waste efficiently and in an environmentally friendly way. Apps such as Sitebuddy and Toogoodtogo are a few examples of revolutionary waste management apps.
    6. Smart Waste Bins:
      Smart bins identify and sort the recyclable material from the regular waste through AI. They also have the machinery to compress the waste. Smart waste bins eliminate the chances of human error. They simultaneously reduce resource requirements and waste management costs.
    7. Waste Level Sensors:
      Sensors to determine waste levels can be installed in any size of bins and dumpsters. It helps predict when is the time to empty the bin without checking its status multiple times.
    8. AI Recycling Robots:
      A lot of human efforts are required to reduce the load of trash in landfills and waterways. The AI recycling robots can save the day for you. Needless to say, they eliminate the chances of human errors.
    9. Garbage Truck Weighing Mechanisms:
      It is similar to the waste level sensor in the bin. A garbage truck weighing Mechanism is installed in garbage trucks to predict the fill levels and reduce collection trips.
    10. Pneumatic Waste Pipes:
      The traditional waste collection methods through trucks cost fuel and take time. As part of smart waste management, pneumatic waste pipes save this cost and resources. These pipes are connected to waste collection plants on an underground level. The trash travels through these pipes and reaches the collection plant for sorting and hauling.

Disadvantages of Smart Waste Management System

There are some disadvantages also to the smart management system. But they are limited and manageable. Check them out here!

  • Because of being a new technology, the smart waste management system is often misunderstood as complicated and expensive. On the contrary, it’s affordable and easy to use.
  • Many people don’t know how to operate smart sensors. They don’t install it correctly for the best results.
  • The usage of trucks and bins is not correctly optimized sometimes. It leads to wastage of fuel, underuse, or overfilling of the containers.
  • The disposing of waste and sorting of recyclable material is manual. So if the process is not followed properly, it leads to disruption in the smart waste management system.
  • If the waste distribution in bins is non-uniform, the sensor may read that the bin is filled.