The waste management industry is investing heavily in tech to solve some of its biggest problems – and the smart bin is the latest gadget to be rolled out.
Overstuffed bins, high-traffic areas with no containers and poor public recycling habits are spiralling out of control, meaning standard litter bins just aren’t cutting anymore.
But what are smart bins, and how can they help improve waste management? Let’s take a look at these clever little inventions and some of their benefits.
According to Defra (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs), the average person in England generates 392 kgs of rubbish every year.
With that amount of refuse generated annually, inefficient waste management can quickly add extra pressure to an already suffering environment.
Enter smart bins: intelligent waste management systems that use the Internet of Things (IoT) to collect data and maximise space for public rubbish.
Wireless fill-level sensors detect how full a bin is before the data is transmitted to a cloud-based monitoring system (similar systems can be used to monitor skip hire customers’ waste, especially those who need regular collections and deliveries). Once this data is gathered, waste management services dispatch their drivers to collect the bins.
Drivers can then plan the most direct routes and optimal frequency of collections to save time and fuel.
It’s not only data that makes smart bins more efficient, many are also fitted with compactors that run off solar power.
Once a certain level is reached, the smart bins start to compact the waste, allowing for as much as 10 times more to be loaded into it, potentially spelling the end of overflowing containers.
Because these rubbish-crunching bins are designed to be placed in public spaces, they come equipped with several safety features. Sensors can detect if there is a hand in the way to prevent accidental injuries. Smart bins can also detect fires and even extinguish flames to lighten the load on local fire brigades (bin fires are a common occurrence when lit cigarettes are thrown is with waste paper).
Cambridge city centre will be trialling a new batch of smart bins this summer, targeting busy areas in the hope of reducing waste management costs.
Smart bins propose a direct benefit to local communities on top of relieving the nation’s already struggling landfills.
Because of space-saving compactors in smart bins, you can fit much more into one container than the average litter bin (or maybe even more than a small skip).
This means fewer bins are needed to collect the same amount of rubbish. Fewer bins also means less rubbish overflowing and no lingering odour.
By monitoring smart bins, refuse workers can detect when bins are actually ready to be collected, rather than wasting time emptying bins with only a few pieces of rubbish inside.
This means that collection routes can be planned more effectively, reducing the amount of time, traffic, labour and fuel wasted in retrieving bins that aren’t yet full.
Even though smart bins are only just starting to be rolled out, data captured from the ones that are up and running are already proving invaluable.
Data from smart bins can be used to target recycling campaigns in specific areas that show low uptake in greener habits. Being able to actively encourage the proper segregation of recyclables at the point it’s thrown away is hugely important, because mixed waste is often rejected by recycling plants.
These numbers can also help predict waste levels on a national and even global scale, helping define future strategies and solutions that will contribute to sustainable waste management.
As the world’s population continues to grow, cities and urban areas are getting more crowded and litter is becoming a bigger problem than ever.
Inefficient waste management can lead to problems for both local communities and the already swelling landfills. Overflowing bins pose a public health concern, while poor disposal habits (like not knowing how to recycle plastic properly) is leading to carrier bags ending up at the bottom of the ocean.
The public might not be 100% onboard with the united effort towards better waste management, but we should all want our communities to be clean, safe environments. Breakdowns in local waste management systems can lead to public outrage when the streets are piled high with rubbish, which jeopardises small businesses unfortunate enough to have it dumped right in front of their premises.
Solving these problems usually calls for more workers and more vehicles, but smart bins may be the solution to spiralling costs.
Smart bins are clearly something that local authorities are strongly leaning into to control the nation’s waste problem, but what about private waste management companies like SunSkips?
SunSkips already uses smart route-planning software to map out the most efficient routes when collecting and delivering skips in the Suffolk and Cambridge area. This allows our operations team to group customers based in the same area so drivers dropping off containers are able to pick up full skips before returning to the recycling site.
Sensors that detect how full the container is can just as easily be used in skips to let drivers know when to collect. This is especially useful when waste is managed onsite (construction waste, for example) and needs to be regularly taken away.
This will not only make private waste management more environmentally friendly, but will also save customers a lot of money when their biggest waste-generating habits are identified and solutions are put into action.
Smart bins have the potential to revolutionise how we make the most of our waste management strategies – and could soon find their way into the day-to-day operations of skip hire firms too.
They can provide valuable data that helps make decisions, as well as save businesses and governments a lot of money that can be used for further improving waste management systems.
Better, greener waste management takes dedicated professionals with experience in auditing, logistics and recycling – and smart bins are a welcome tool that SunSkips will be following with interest.
If you would like more information on SunSkips’ waste management methods for reducing waste and costs, call us today on 01449 360 036 or 01223 976 496.