Until the last decade waste disposal methods have been primarily carried out by trucks, and in some cases, garbage has been disposed in ditches dug specifically for disposing refuse. But population growth and a rise in consumer culture has rendered these waste disposal methods unsustainable owing to the large amount of waste that has come along with modernisation and the hazardous effects it has on the environment, animals and people. Thus, many companies have resorted to smart waste management technologies and solutions that make trash collection more efficient, cost effective and environmentally friendly.
Some of these waste management technologies include:
Smart Waste Bins
Smart waste bins are designed to automatically sort recyclables into separate compartments using an intelligence-based object recognition system that accurately detects glass, plastic, metal and paper and puts them in their respective compartments. After sorting, the machine compresses the waste using a solar-powered trash compactor, a function that enables the smart bin to hold up to 8 times more waste than traditional bins, and avoid overflowing.
They have wireless ultrasonic fill-level sensors for detecting how full the bin is and send out alerts for trash pickup when needed. This reduces unnecessary trash collection trips, thereby reducing fuel consumption and lowering CO2 emissions and other gases from fossil fuel powered garbage trucks. Tmart bin technology reduces waste management costs by as much as 80% while eliminating the possibility of human error from the sorting process, making it faster and easier for recycling facilities.
Pneumatic Waste Pipes
Pneumatic waste pipes are an automated waste collection system that use vacuum suction to empty garbage bins through a network of underground pipes. Users dispose waste in inlets that are subdivided according to waste type for effective recycling possibilities. The waste is then transported through the underground tubes to a waste collection station where it is sorted or hauled away when full.
This innovation is environmentally sound as the systems are invisible and odorless, eradicating the environmental and sanitary issues associated with open garbage collection methods. Additionally, since the systems are automated the operating costs are low. There is little need for garbage trucks and a big workforce.
Pneumatic waste pipes are powered by air compressors so their energy consumption is minimal.
AI Recycling Robots
Waste sorting is typically carried out by human workers and it’s physically demanding, poses a variety of safety risks and is prone to human error. But just like smart waste bins, AI robots solve these problems by accurately identifying and sorting different kinds of recyclable materials like plastic, cartons, glass and steel, and correctly putting them in their designated bins.
These robots are fitted with high-tech cameras and computer systems for recognizing specific objects and sensors on their arms for capturing the recyclable items. Some of them can identify different colours, shapes, sizes and textures of the materials as well.
While human workers pick an average of 35 recyclable items per minute, AI robots can pick up to 80 items a minute with a 99% accuracy rate, significantly improving performance, reducing manual labour and saving costs.
Waste Level Sensors
Waste level sensors are devices installed in bins and dumpsters to collect and store data on fill levels and alert collection services when the bins needs to be emptied. This system allows collection services to predict how often bins need to be emptied therefore minimizing unnecessary trips to landfills.
This technology reduces waste collection costs by 50% as it enables companies to save on fuel consumption, driver hours and truck maintenance. It is also environmentally friendly as it prevents contamination to the environment due to overflowing of garbage containers.
Fleet Management Systems
For areas that still use traditional garbage pickup methods, fleet management technology, most common in logistics, can be applied to improve garbage collection. This system uses a network of sensors and GPS data to optimize garbage truck routes and allow drivers to adjust their routes depending on traffic, weather and the amount of garbage to save time and reduce fossil fuel emissions.
Other innovative ways of collecting and disposing waste include biological reprocessing or composting, which is applicable to organic waste like plants, food scraps and some biodegradable paper products. The organic waste is decomposed to form compost for agricultural purposes while the methane gas created during decomposition is used for heat and electricity production.
Plasma gasification is another emerging waste management innovation which involves heating waste with plasma to extreme temperatures and converting it into usable gases like hydrogen. This process prevents waste from ending up in landfills and creates eco-friendly power and fuel sources.
There’s no doubt technology has simplified waste management by reducing, among other things, labour, health hazards, costs and environmental damage, and the FM industry is directly benefiting from these innovations. As more people, companies, organisations and the world at large adopt these technologies, additional research and development will be funded and tech’s impact on waste management will grow exponentially.