Editorial Feature

Managing Waste with Smart Bins

Waste management is one of the world's most pressing concerns, and sensors are now being employed to speed up the process, saving time and money.

Image Credit: franz12/Shutterstock.com

Why Is It Important To Monitor Urban Waste?

As cities worldwide continue to grow at an accelerating rate, they pose significant environmental and socioeconomic issues. One of the most pressing issues in urban areas is the amount of waste being produced.

Humans are generating more garbage than ever before due to the enormous growth in population over the last centuries and due to changes in consumption patterns and the makeup of solid waste.

Most people in cities eat food that has been industrialized and heavily packaged, which contributes significantly to the daily trash generated by households.

Public health is jeopardized when garbage is not properly managed and collected. Once it gets into rivers, abandoned waste is a breeding ground for disease vectors and a source of flooding and health risks for the general public. In addition, poisonous gases are generated from burning waste, contaminating nearby areas.

How Can Sensors Be Used To Manage Waste?

The most common environmental problem is the frequent overcrowding of garbage bins. Because of this, people sometimes have to leave garbage right next to the containers, and the accumulated waste emits substances that can pollute the air or attract pests.  

To prevent this, smart bins can be placed in each area. They are equipped with sensors that automatically determine the level of waste in waste bins and notify the regional operator.

Infrared sensors can be used to monitor the environment around the garbage bin to avoid waste disposal outside the container. If garbage is disposed of improperly, the infrared sensor detects the garbage around the waste bin. Then, it triggers an alarm system that will alert the people to dispose of the trash properly.

Ultrasonic and fill-level sensors are used to sense the level of trash bins to determine if it needs to be emptied. Temperature sensors are also installed, which allows timely detection of waste fires. An accelerometer determines the angle of inclination of the container and fixes the position of the bin when the carrier has unloaded the garbage.

What Are Smart Bins, And How Do They Work?

Smart bins are equipped with sensors powered by solar energy or, in some cases, through a wired connection.

Ultrasonic sensors monitor the level of the waste bin's capacity and communicate the measured data to a central computer, where it is processed by software. Built-in GPRS and GPS modules transmit data in the wireless environment.

A specific software program determines each container's filling level by analyzing the data it receives. In addition, optimal garbage collection strategies and routes are developed based on the observed results.

The system can accumulate statistics over long periods by collecting data from garbage bins. As a result, the intelligence of the system increases over time. The system gets the ability to predict when certain containers are full and schedule garbage collection in advance.

A special mechanism inside these bins can compress the trash so that they can hold three times more waste than a traditional bin. In crowded places where thousands of citizens and tourists pass every day, traditional bins must be emptied three times a day. Smart bins can reduce the amount of garbage collection by utilities to once a day or even two days, saving fuel and human resources.

Commercial Suppliers of Smart Bins

Mr. Fill is Europe's most modern garbage bin, powered by solar panels. The garbage can fit into it much more than in a standard bin due to the press installed inside, which compresses the discarded household waste.

Sensors inside the container monitor its loading. As soon as the container approaches fill level, it signals to the city cleaning control room on a smartphone or computer. The same happens in the event of a malfunction. The method is convenient since passers-by are warned on time, an overflow of the tank is prevented, and the pavement becomes free of fallen debris.

US-based business EvoEco has developed the EvoBin, which displays messages to the user depending on the sort of garbage placed into it, thanks to sensors inside. Users' interest is piqued by the addition of screens, dashboards, and other interactive technologies to conventional trash bins. As a result, it's possible to make it fun for customers to throw away their trash, teach them how to sort it appropriately or provide them with incentives.

CleanRobotics has developed Trashbot™, a robotic smart bin that automatically separates the recyclables from the landfill waste. These smart bins are designed to open when someone walks up to them. Cameras and sensors are installed to determine whether the trash should be recycled or thrown away in a landfill and which container it should be placed in if recycling is preferred.

Future Developments

The installation of smart garbage bins is projected to improve waste collection, transportation, and recycling efficiency. In addition, sensor-enabled bins can reduce the number of trips garbage truck drivers must make, hence reducing expenses and greenhouse gas emissions.

Continue reading: How are Sensors used to Reduce Food Waste?

References and Further Reading

Gutberlet, J. (2017). Waste in the City: Challenges and Opportunities for Urban Agglomerations. In (Ed.), Urban Agglomeration. IntechOpen. https://doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.72047

Hardai, I., István, Z., & Tamás, P. (2021). S-BIN–SMART BIN DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION. Advanced Logistic Systems-Theory and Practice, 15(1), 5-11. https://doi.org/10.32971/als.2021.001

Pardini, K., Rodrigues, J. J., Diallo, O., Das, A. K., de Albuquerque, V. H. C., & Kozlov, S. A. (2020). A smart waste management solution geared towards citizens. Sensors, 20(8), 2380. https://doi.org/10.3390/s20082380

Scoon, L. (2021). Household Recycle Sorting Bin System Design. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Linda_Scoon/publication/356006412_Household_Recycle_Sorting_Bin_System_Design/links/6189ac1fd7d1af224bc6c4aa/Household-Recycle-Sorting-Bin-System-Design.pdf

Wybone. (2022). Mr Fill The Smart Waste Solution. [Online] Available at https://wybone.co.uk/mr-fill-the-smart-waste-solution-at-wybone/ (Accessed on 13 April 2022)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Owais Ali

Written by

Owais Ali

NEBOSH certified Mechanical Engineer with 3 years of experience as a technical writer and editor. Owais is interested in occupational health and safety, computer hardware, industrial and mobile robotics. During his academic career, Owais worked on several research projects regarding mobile robots, notably the Autonomous Fire Fighting Mobile Robot. The designed mobile robot could navigate, detect and extinguish fire autonomously. Arduino Uno was used as the microcontroller to control the flame sensors' input and output of the flame extinguisher. Apart from his professional life, Owais is an avid book reader and a huge computer technology enthusiast and likes to keep himself updated regarding developments in the computer industry.

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