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Blog June 2020 Updated April 2021

Dynamic Waste Collection: Improving Sustainability and Cutting Costs

Martijn Schimmer Intelligent Optimization Solution Advisor

Improving sustainability and cutting costs

The UK produced 202.8 million tonnes of total waste in 2014, the last year's statistics were available from the government. This represents an increase of 4.6% over 2012. In 2014, the U.S. generated 258 million tonnes of municipal solid waste alone. According to The World Bank, cities around the world produced 1.3 billion tonnes of solid waste in 2012, giving each person a footprint of 1.2 kilograms. per day. That 1.3 billion tonne is expected to rise 2.2 billion by 2025.

Population – and thus, consumption – is growing. Between 2011 and 2015, Greater London increased by 5.7%; Bristol, 4.5%; and the West Midlands, by 3.4%. These are just a few examples cited by the Office of National Statistics. New York City expanded by 5.5% between 2010 and 2015. With migration, it’s a similar story across Europe.

As urban areas around the world look for sustainable growth, the dynamic waste collection has to figure into the equation to protect the population, ecosystem, and revenue for waste management companies, while lowering costs for local authorities. Many companies in Europe have already adopted on-demand collection, and it’s making a difference.

Introducing dynamic waste collection would generate new data that could be analyzed to better identify habits in different areas of cities and reduce the waste collection frequency. The cost savings could be substantial while reducing CO2 emissions through reduced fuel consumption and fewer vehicles on the road.

Municipality Groningen

Data informs

Consider the costs involved in emptying containers: transportation, maintenance of equipment and vehicles and labour. Emptying these containers, at least in much of the world, involves static planning: particular containers are scheduled to be emptied on a certain day.

Dynamic waste collection turns that model upside down. With the Internet of Things (IoT), an intelligent network of receptacles is created by equipping bins with smart chips, or sensors. The data collected reveals fill rates or the time of the last collection, for example. This results in a more efficient process for waste collections, which can be planned in real-time, based on the data. At the very least, waste collections can be based on fill levels. Dynamic waste collection responds to the amount of refuse that can change week to week or even day today.

The information collected gives organisations a better understanding of how rubbish in any location is produced and how it can be managed. Resources can be targeted more efficiently. For instance, they’ll know which areas are at risk of street litter and can be proactive in addressing the situation.

Efficiencies equal cost savings

With waste collections more efficient, cost savings will naturally follow. By analysing the data, collection routes can be optimised and prioritised. Waste collectors could go one step further by gathering information about weather, traffic and special events to redesign routes for maximum efficiency.

For waste management companies contracted to collect rubbish, this can present fantastic opportunities in terms of savings on running costs. A large part of the expenses involved is eliminated so that they’re spending less by putting fewer lorries on the road, less on fuel by optimising routes and travelling fewer miles, and less on labour, all while reducing their CO2 emissions.

Dynamic waste collection also presents a boost to contractors whose fee includes an extra charge when the weight is over a certain level. The bin will tell them when it’s time to empty them. This knowledge, coupled with more efficient routes, offers two benefits: the chance to optimise the amount of chargeable revenue while lowering the cost of collection.

Example from the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, one client of AMCS focuses on reverse collecting, which is the collection of recyclables rather than waste. The company reports saving on vehicle movement through the dynamic waste collection. By only collecting filled bins and using optimised routes, they were able to:

The technology needed to drive dynamic waste collection, such as Route Optimisation, can completely transform businesses stuck in static processes. The other alternative? Keep to business as usual.

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