How smart tech makes waste transportation cleaner

Waste collection and transportation takes a remarkable share of waste management costs. In Finland, for instance, waste collection and transportation account for half of the costs of waste management. The social and environmental impacts are also noticeable. Inappropriately stored waste may cause smell problems and attract pests. Waste collection vehicles increase heavy traffic which is a problem especially in urban areas. The pollutants and trucks moving around cause health and safety risks also. Transporting waste across the borders is often problematic from an environmental perspective especially since waste may often include hazardous substances, making it a globalized problem.

To reach better cost-efficiency but also to reduce social and ecological impacts the technical development in waste collection and transportation has been rapid. Resources for optimizing waste logistics have been used in many urban areas. Applying geoinformatics (GIS) in waste collection is one of the ways to improve logistics. Also technics for waste containers have been developing quite rapidly. Smart tech in containers may tell the waste collection company when the container needs to be emptied for example. By utilizing waste collection and logistic optimization with GIS based methods the economic and environmental benefits have been gained. Censor technology in waste containers increases the benefits further and also makes the urban areas cleaner and healthier.

Less emissions through better routes

In geoinformatic software different kinds of spatial data can be set in layers and the computer program can count the best available route for waste trucks for example. Spatial data can consists of road maps, traffic amounts in different road sections, data on traffic lights, coordinates for waste containers to empty etc. When all the data is combined, the most cost-effective route for truck can be calculated. Also exhaust gas emissions are reduced and both environmental and social impacts are decreased when routes are optimized.

Sensor technology in waste containers is also one way to optimize waste collection. Sensors measure the waste amount in container. The data on waste amounts in different waste containers is collected in (almost) real time to the computer program. Waste trucks do not have to empty every waste container but only the ones that are full enough and the route for each truck is optimized. With the sensor technology also the overflowing waste containers can be avoided which keeps the environment cleaner and comfortable. Sensor technology can be joined with GIS based programs optimizing logistics. By combining these two technical methods it is possible to calculate the best routes for trucks daily for instance.

by Noora Haukijärvi

To learn more about Waste Treatment sign up to the free and open online course Introduction: WastED – Waste Collection and Transportation provided by the Turku University of Applied Sciences.

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