A growing population, urbanization and a scarcity of resources are only a few key issues causing social and environmental problems in the 21st century. Luckily, many green initiatives and sustainable solutions are being implemented in urbanized areas.
Using technology and innovation to optimize current systems will enable cities to become smarter, more efficient and save resources. Due to the growing population, the amount of waste being produced is vast and rapidly increasing. The management of this waste is therefore a significant area for much-needed improvement.
Currently, waste collection systems are in most cases outdated and result in pick-ups that are unnecessary or on the contrary – long-overdue. Unnecessary pickups result in 70% higher annual collection cost. When routes are planned inefficiently, congestion is created and more fuel is required to complete the collection. Overall, this contributes to a 50% higher carbon footprint.
With the use of IoT solutions for waste management, these issues can be solved by creating a more efficient pathway for garbage trucks. IoT sensor technology can be used to indicate when the emptying is actually needed. This customized and dynamic system for waste management can allow businesses, organizations, and citizens to all benefit.
By having a more convenient route garbage trucks spend less time on the road, therefore, congestion in smart cities can be decreased. This means that truck drivers and citizens are saving less time stuck in traffic jams. Additionally, using IoT technology for remote diagnostics also means not having to send staff all the way to monitor assets.
With the huge increase in waste, more resources are allocated to waste collection and handling. If unnecessary collections are eliminated, public spending on waste management can be reduced.
This frees up resources for municipalities to allocate to other initiatives. Moreover, waste is properly handled and sorted and turned into recyclable assets, this provides a further potential income stream.
Overflowing bins will pollute the environment potentially contaminating areas and harming the general health of the public. An optimized route and system for waste collection will eliminate this risk as well as improving air quality and minimizing CO2 emissions. Smart cities can reduce their overall carbon footprint, bringing them closer to achieving the SDG goals.
#4 Improving efficiency
Smart cities are all about using resources efficiently – achieving more by using less input. One of the benefits includes the availability of real-time data, allowing for decisions to be made quickly. This means that action can be taken before having an overflow of containers. Smart cities can remain highly responsive and challenge the current waste hierarchy, breaking patterns of inefficiency and high costs.
By routes being monitored, the opportunity of the misuse of owned assets is eliminated.
Moreover, cities are encouraged to be transparent with their citizens by showing how waste is being managed. By making data publicly available, trust can be built with citizens. Smart cities should be encouraged by their operations and solutions to strive for more sustainable development, not limited by them.
#6 Meet the increasing demand for sustainable solutions
As society is becoming more aware of the environmental issues – there is an increasing demand for more sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions, when choosing between services and products. Smart cities infrastructure and intelligent waste solutions have the potential to lead the shift towards a more sustainable future.
Leading by example
An example of a city moving closer towards smart IoT infrastructure is the city of Herning in Denmark, which implemented the WasteHero solution. One of the goals was to optimize their existing waste management in the hopes of minimizing costs, reducing CO2 emissions and in general facilitate a greener and more sustainable city.
100 smart bin sensors were implemented in the containers of Herning Municipality. Based on the sensor data the bins were just 22% full on average when emptied, which highly influenced an annual cost of Herning’s waste management.
The gathered data from the installed sensors provided a much better insight for further possibilities of optimization. It was the beginning of a significant change in their existing waste management system.
Herning eventually installed 125 additional sensors to secure further savings. Ultimately, by improving efficiency and decreasing emptyings by 51%, Herning municipality saved up 71% on yearly waste management costs.
The Future of Waste Management IoT Solutions
Hopefully, further implementation of these initiatives will drive the rapid growth of smart cities. IoT solutions are undeniably beneficial for saving the environment, reducing costs, as well as boosting productivity.
It all comes down to connecting the physical world to the digital world, such seemingly small devices powered by IoT technology can drastically improve the huge industry of waste management.