Smart Waste, Source: Telelink City

What Does the Future of Waste Management Look Like?

What Does the Future of Waste Management Look Like?

Cities of all sizes can benefit from smart technologies

Waste management is one of the aspects of city life that most people don’t notice– but when something goes wrong, the consequences are quite gruesome and city management has to act quickly to avoid a crisis. The intricate, and quite often not very well optimised, system for waste collection and disposal has potential weak links.

As cities grow, urban population and consumption increase which means more garbage being handled by ineffective processes, causing a host of environmental and social challenges. Heaps of trash and overflowing bins are only the beginning of what could turn into a health crisis.

How do we avoid that? And how do we make sure that waste management is handled in the most efficient way no matter the city size or its growth rate?

Understanding waste management

What happens between the moment someone throws a piece of trash into the bin and the moment it ends up in a landfill? Not many people get up early enough to witness the waste disposal vehicles going about their way and collecting communal waste from bins.

After the vehicle is filled, it goes to the nearest waste disposal facility that has free capacity. This may be near the city, or sometimes hundreds of kilometres away. It seems pretty straightforward, but there are quite a few things that can go wrong along the way – most of them due to lack of communication and monitoring.

What can go wrong?

While growth is generally a good thing, when it comes to waste management it can be a potential problem. As cities across the globe continue to expand, old infrastructure struggles to accommodate the needs of an ever-growing population. Not only that but when the population grows, its consumption patterns also change, which in turn affects the whole city ecosystem.

Streets that were once calm suffer from congestion that impedes the work of waste management vehicles and waste bins are filled faster than they can be emptied. The result is not only ugly but potentially dangerous – excessive garbage is the perfect breeding ground for rats, insects and different diseases.

Improving waste collection processes can significantly improve the living standard in any city.

How can modern technologies help?


Smart technologies can improve almost any aspect of life in the city, including waste management. It all begins with the installation of small IoT sensors in the bins, thus creating a network that can send information about their fill levels in real-time.

Waste collection vehicles and disposal facilities (landfills, incinerators and recycling plants) are also interlinked to show their occupancies in real-time. Then comes the back end – a sophisticated, yet easy to navigate, system that allows for quick adjustments whenever and wherever they are needed. Sensors provide the raw data to create an optimisation plan for the collection vehicles, and the back end calculates the optimal route for the vehicles every day, from collection to disposal.

This system allows city management to optimise the processes in areas that are more difficult to access by planning in advance for collection at times of the day when the traffic is low. It also provides the flexibility to create an efficient plan – waste collection only when it is needed, avoiding a schedule that runs empty vehicles. Areas with specific requirements, such as production facilities, can also be tended to.

What is more, smart waste management systems can be integrated with other smart solutions such as traffic control to increase both systems’ productivity.

Which cities can benefit from smart waste management?

It is a myth that only megapolises need smart technologies. Cities of all sizes can benefit from them, especially those experiencing quick growth in population. Urban areas can become healthier if smart tech is implemented earlier in their development and if it contributes to informed decision-making on all levels of city management.


Curious about smart waste management and how it can make your city a more liveable place? Learn more here >> 


Telelink City can partner with global and local institutions to efficiently integrate this solution in your city.

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