Technology is evolving at a rapid rate. In the past few years, waste management has started to use innovative technologies and methods to streamline services offered. These are just a few of the innovative tools that the waste management sector is taking advantage of, from mobile software and automation to putting waste to better use to reduce the quantity heading to landfill overall.
Apps to Reduce food waste
Apps have become a great way for waste management organisations to help clients manage their food waste more effectively and in an eco-friendly way. Food waste is one of the primary sources of waste around the world, but companies such as Too Good To Go are revolutionising this issue, allowing people to buy food that restaurants would ordinarily throw away. They claim to have saved over 78 million meals to date and have connected with more than 98,000 businesses globally.
Using Waste for Energy
A huge innovation for the waste management sector is the ability to transform waste into fuel. Instead of going to landfill, certain waste products can be converted into power, creating what is known as Refuse Derived Fuel, or RDF. So, why is RDF so in demand?
According to waste management company Countrystyle Recycling, the appeal of RDF is both financial and environmental – “sending waste material to landfill is increasing in costs, and environmental pressures now favour Recycling, Reuse and Recovery solutions. In addition, the global need for energy is increasing, with non-fossil fuel alternatives being sought to match demand and minimise the impact of global warming”. RDF can be used for a number of waste products, from food and animal waste to agricultural waste.
Automated Sorting Opportunities
There are plenty of logistical challenges within the waste management sector, including manual handling and the associated labor costs. Digitisation and automation offer the chance for businesses to save money and also create better job opportunities in the process. Sensors can indicate when bins are full and need to be serviced, and screening technology is available to sort through recyclable waste faster with fewer errors, which frees up staff to work on high-value jobs and also encourages higher recycling rates.
Automated technology is something that’s already being used in parts of Europe and is expected to become more mainstream in the coming years. From plant management to emission monitoring and remotely-controlled plants, the automation technology used to operate vast waste management facilities is sure to grow over time, and will likely evolve to other areas of the industry over the next few years.
Routing might not be an area you immediately think of when you consider waste management, but optimizing routing is essential to minimizing hazardous emissions and protecting the environment and local communities. Companies within this sector are now investing in software and advanced vehicles which are installed with the technology to save time and effort along existing routes, as well as making point-to-point pickups more environmentally friendly, energy-efficient and cost-effective.
One area of tech that waste management operations are using is data to gain a better understanding of the products people are throwing out, materials being purchased and what is likely to become waste. It can help waste management companies to predict the future and plan waste collection accordingly.
Tech provides real-time monitoring opportunities regarding waste data that can be used to develop more efficient services. Waste management firms are notoriously bad at communicating with the public about the issue of waste reduction and prevention. But with the latest data on the waste produced in different areas and what happens to that waste post-collection, businesses can have more informed conversations on how to reduce their waste and the types of waste primarily produced.
Combining tech and waste management can reduce wasteful processes and minimise expenditure. These technologies, among other innovations, are helping to create a more environmentally friendly world. The more organizations that adopt these technologies, the more efficient waste management will become and the better-educated consumers can be on the waste they are producing.