Hackernoon logoHow IoT Can Help Solve the Most Critical Global Waste Problems by@darya-tsygankova

How IoT Can Help Solve the Most Critical Global Waste Problems

Darya Tsygankova Hacker Noon profile picture

@darya-tsygankovaDarya Tsygankova

Marketing Manager at HQSoftware, a software development company with the main focus on IoT

Even though recycling and other waste management methods
such as waste-to-energy systems and commercial composting have been rising in popularity since the 1960s, still most of the waste ends up in a landfill. Most countries often do not deal with waste management as effectively as needed. According to statista.com, in 2017, the United States alone produced approximately 267.8 million tons of solid waste. Of that, some 139 million tons went to landfills, and only 67 million tons were recycled. However, in the future, cities are expected to achieve zero waste, reduce municipalities’ operational costs, and improve services to citizens, thanks to more efficient and smarter waste collection systems.

IoT Applications in Waste Management

Using the Internet of Things technology can assist cities in reducing waste and boosting efficiency. In terms of making our waste practices more sustainable, IoT applications are engaging to citizens and cities alike. Below are some of the best IoT systems.

• Ultrasonic Sensors

Collection services usually empty trash bins on a regular
basis, whether they’re full or not, which wastes money, time, and fuel. Trash bins with ultrasonic sensors are designed to detect when the bins are full and send a notification to the collection company.

• GPS Tracking

The bins are equipped with a GPS chip that allows the collection company to know where each specific bin is and which ones are full and need to be emptied. That way, the collectors can plan on particular routes,
thus saving fuel and time.

• Compression Bins

This technology helps optimize collection costs by making it possible to collect waste less frequently. For instance, a trash bin such as
CleanCUBE is designed with compression capabilities. Using IoT sensors, it
analyzes the bin fill level, and as more waste is accumulated, it compresses
the trash to fit more. Compared to regular bins, this kind of container can
hold up to 7 times more waste.

• Smart Waste Bins

To make sure the recycling stream is kept as clean as
possible, these bins have monitors designed to show appropriate information to users. For instance, Evo Bins have monitors that show what kind of waste users should put in a specific bin. When the user throws waste into the bin, the system displays the weight on a screen.

• Recycling Stations

Big cities like New York are implementing smart recycling bins to help successfully extract recyclable material from landfills. Also, these bins are equipped with compaction systems and fill-level monitoring sensors.

• Underground trash bins

Some countries, like the Netherlands, are installing underground trash bins that occupy less space on the streets. They are equipped with fill-level monitoring sensors to enable waste collectors to track them and plan collection time accordingly easily.

Technology for Proactive Waste Management – Smart City Solutions

Proactive waste management includes actions that organizations take to prevent waste, so they do not have to handle it at all.

These measures include:

• IoT Infrastructure in Stores

Mainly, food stores generate a lot of waste. Products may expire while sitting on the counter and get thrown away. Fortunately, stores can utilize smart sensors to track product spoilage. If a product is almost to expire, it can be sold off much faster.

• Smart Appliances for Customers

When it comes to smart waste management, consumers can also take actions and become more mindful about the amount of unnecessary wastes they’re generating. Apart from considering recycling in the future, they may invest in IoT-based smart appliances like smart refrigerators. Such refrigerators are equipped with sensors to monitor the product conditions. The fridge can send out a notification if some products in the refrigerator are nearing expiration.

The Future of IoT Applications in Waste Management

Delivering higher quality services and producing leaner operations is the ultimate goal of IoT applications in waste management. An increasing number of interlinked autonomous systems are improving people's experiences by managing everyday urban activities. However, more coordination between public sectors through a mix of incentives and regulation is needed. Also, federal agencies and regional states should be willing to work together in implementing IoT applications in waste management to build a more sustainable and better future.


We can use IoT to become more conscious about producing and shopping, thus reducing the amount of waste we generate. Governments all over the globe are partnering with waste management solution providers in an effort to come up with waste reduction solutions and also deal with the already generated waste.


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