Sustainability and the level of living in a city can be judged through many factors. One of them is how city wastes are disposed of or recycled. Specifically, for a densely populated country like India, waste generation is a major environmental concern. The country generates around 133.8 kilotonnes of solid waste every day, of which about 91 kilotonnes gets collected and only 25.9 kilotonnes is treated. While public awareness and education can bring down these figures, an effective waste management system can provide the much needed results.
Sensorised bins, automatic waste transportation, zero water discharge and many other solutions have been introduced for better waste management in India. Such waste management technologies help prevent piling up of excessive waste in an area. Sensors configured in waste collection bins offer real-time monitoring of the piled-up waste. This allows waste management authorities to send their clearance squad to the mentioned location and collect the pile without delay. As a result, overall hygiene and cleanliness of the area increases exponentially. Additionally, it reduces the time and effort required to travel to each bin and check the collection level manually.
Real-time navigation system for waste-collection vehicles ensures all collection bins in the specified area are collected—that too by covering the shortest route. This greatly cuts down fuel expenses and manual efforts. It can even allow municipalities to cut down resources.
Many smart solutions allow automatic sorting of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste. Automatic separation of waste like plastic, metal and glass can make the waste filtration process for recycling much easier. As a result, environmental damage due to non-biodegradable waste can be prevented. Manual sorting takes time and effort. More importantly, it is hazardous for human health and needs to be avoided.
Overall, smart waste management systems, if installed properly, can reduce financial burden for municipalities by up to 50 per cent. This includes resource requirement, transport cost, labour cost, activity monitoring and more. Additionally, smart waste management systems provide a streamlined accountability to contractual workers. Smart systems can allow municipal authorities to enroll them formally, keep better track of their whereabouts and record their activities.
The IoT in waste management is no longer a far cry. Smart waste systems are already in place throughout the globe and in India as well. For instance, the city of Jamshedpur has maintained zero liquid discharge from its sewage water wastes.
Ashish Mathur, MD, Jamshedpur Utilities and Services Company (JUSCO), explains, “Jamshedpur is a city where 40 million litres of sewage waste collected every day is treated at tertiary level and brought back in the city for non-potable usage—for example, use of industrial waste water for irrigation. For areas of the city that are not connected to the main sewage line, we have set up local plants that collect sewage from the areas, treat it and give it back to the local inhabitants for reuse. This is our Zero Liquid Discharge project, and we believe that sustainable technologies like this should be taken up by every city to see long-term improvement.”
Mathur put forward more real-time waste management solutions as examples, “We have patented a technology where all the roads we construct are built using waste plastics. Moreover, Jamshedpur has more than 15 biogas stations that recycle biodegradable waste to generate usable biogas.”
Jamshedpur has also adopted sensorised bins, which track the level of waste collection in real time. JUSCO is on the verge of activating LoRaWAN connectivity for better maintenance of these smart systems.
Many solution providers are suggesting waste collection below the ground. An example is set by the Gujarat International Finance-Tec (GIFT) City—a business district in Gujarat which has been included as a model city in smart city campaign. It has introduced the country’s first automated waste collection infrastructure. Instead of trash bins, it uses inlets for waste collection. The inlets connect to large underground suction pipe networks that end up into a central collection hub. Any amount of garbage put through the inlets is sucked through the pipes into the central hub. At the collection inlet, the waste is separated into biodegradables and non-biodegradables.
The project is under expansion and has resulted in no open waste and garbage in the city, no unpicked waste piles in an area and no manual intervention for waste collection. The infrastructure won multiple awards at CMO Asia 2017 in Singapore.
Countries throughout the world are using unique techniques to manage their wastes. Australia has installed two types of smart bins: Big Belly and Smart Belly. These bins can detect their waste-collection level in real time, segregate reusable waste from non-reusable waste at the point of collection, and compost biodegradable waste on the spot.
Colombia has come up with an exciting idea to engage its citizens in waste-recycling process. To promote return of reusable wastes like plastic bottles and bags, it has introduced Ecobot reverse vending machines. Each time citizens return reusable waste to this bin, the machine awards them with vouchers or coupons that can be used for shopping, movies and so on. This project is running successfully, attracting more citizens towards going green!