Smart Waste Collection : "The main advantage of smart sensors is a dynamic waste collection"

Fill level monitoring, Sensoneo, smart waste collection
© Sensoneo

Waste collection is getting smarter by the minute, so it seems. In more and more cities, the days where waste was collected on fixed days on ever the same route are gone. Instead, they rely on sensors installed in bins that provide data for optimized route planning. This year Madrid will install 11.000 sensors making it the largest smart waste installation in Europe. Tomas Vincze, Waste Collection Management Division Director at Sensoneo, a provider of smart waste management technology, explains how the technology works, its economic and ecological impact, and the future of the smart waste collection.

How do smart sensors work?

Our smart sensors use ultrasonic technology to measure fill levels in bins at a frequency that ranges from once a minute to once a day (according to clients' preferences). Along with the current fill-level data, the sensors also monitor temperature and provide fire alarm, tilt alarm, and pick-up recognition information.

The data from the sensors is transferred via a selection of networks (Sigfox, NB-IoT, LoRaWAN, CAT-M1, GSM/GPRS) and immediately processed in Sensoneo’s Smart Waste Management System, a powerful cloud-based platform. The client gets the data on how full each given bin is and can use the data for waste collection planning, bin distribution, etc.

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Tomas Vincz, Sensoneo
Tomas Vincze, Waste Collection Management Division Director at Sensoneo - © Sensoneo

The sensors can monitor any type of waste (mixed waste, paper, plastics, glass, clothing, bio-waste, liquids, electronics, metal, and so on) in bins and containers of various types and sizes. The data can be displayed also in the Citizens App, where citizens can see where the nearest available bins are before disposing of their garbage.

What are the advantages of smart waste monitoring compared to a regular waste collection?

Smart waste monitoring enables data-driven waste collection and management. The customers, who are usually waste collection companies or municipalities, get accurate information on waste production and can use the data for more efficient waste services. The main advantage is the possibility of dynamic waste collection, where the collection company collects only the full bins and collects them on time before they overflow. Such measures can save time, cost, and fuel so the economic benefits are obvious. Clients can also use the data for bin distribution, cities can use the data when negotiating a new contract with a collection company, or when doing a new tender for collection services.

We can also improve the frequency-based waste collection: thanks to the data from sensors, and our Route Planning solution, which is designed especially for waste trucks.

Furthermore, since there is a significant reduction in time necessary for waste collection, it means a decrease in collection vehicles present in the streets and therefore the reduction of emissions, traffic, and noise. To sum it up, smart waste monitoring brings a significant advantage from an environmental point of view too.

Do you have any data on the impact smart systems have on emissions from the waste collection?

We have proven results where our customers achieved a 30-63 % reduction in the duration of waste collection routes and kilometers driven, which means inevitably less fuel burnt and less CO2 created from the collection vehicles.

Smart sensors help optimising collection routes. They also enhance the ability to collect more material with the same infrastructure.

- © Sensoneo

Which countries or cities are pioneers in smart waste management?

Typically, for countries and cities in the European Economic Area. We provide smart waste solutions to cities like Reykjavik, Prague, Cambridge, and several cities in Germany, Norway, or Spain where there will also be the large Madrid implementation. However new cities and regions are joining, a good example is Buenos Aires which was until Madrid our largest deployment with 4 500 sensors.

Lately, we have seen a significant rise in demand for smart waste technologies in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia, which is building smart cities like NEOM and smart waste technologies are an integral part of the infrastructure.

How has the market developed over the years?

While a couple of years ago digital technologies seemed like an optional feature for the waste industry, now it is becoming a necessary one. It all comes down to efficiency, which is becoming ever more important and cannot be reached without digitization. Furthermore, clients (whether citizens themselves, cities, or businesses) put a much higher focus on transparency and fair fees, therefore even such a conservative enterprise as the waste collection is undergoing a transformation and must provide data, which was not required a few years back.

Smart waste management is not for cities and municipalities only, although they remain the key customers. Currently, we see growing demand from factories, who not only need to meet the targets imposed by governments but are setting their own environmental and efficiency goals too.

Bin sensors collect data on fill levels and forward it to a cloud-based data platform.

- © Sesoneo

How do you see the future of this technology?

There are several streams where smart waste monitoring will evolve.

We believe ultrasonic sensors will soon become a standard for certain bin types like underground or semi-underground bins and they will be widely used in other waste streams apart from the standard municipal/industrial waste like wastewater level monitoring, and others.

Although smart sensors remain an integral part of smart waste management, there is a growing demand for complex services, so they will be paired more and more often with hardware like smart waste locks or telematics and collection monitoring devices, and with software solutions like route planning.

We are also working on new technologies to deploy in waste monitoring, this year we will launch the radar sensor. This type of sensor will bring new possibilities not only in municipal waste monitoring since it can measure through container lid which makes it suitable also for hazardous materials.