Updated as on 4-1-2021

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.

So, which advancement in technology has helped cut down on waste?

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 imply 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 kind of machinery which 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 recycle precious metals like platinum, palladium, and iridium which are used in chemical and auto industries.

  • New collection and disposal technology

    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:

    • Ultrasonic trash can sensor: An ultrasonic trash can sensor regularly informs you on how full your waste container. This aids in reducing the cost that accompanies overfilling a dumpster.
    • 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.
    • Image-based trash can sensors: Image-based trash can sensors is 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.
    • 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.
    • Waste management apps: Waste management companies have developed apps which 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.