Across the globe, cities are generating ever-greater volumes of waste. According to the World Bank, cities produced just over two billion tons of solid waste in 2016. Yet, thanks to population growth and rapid urbanization, this is likely to increase by 70%, reaching 3.4 billion tons in 2050. This has major implications for urban centers in the US and abroad.
The main challenge is that most countries still rely on traditional waste management processes. In practice, this could mean that:
- Waste is not segregated at source.
- Residents aren't told how to dispose of different types of waste correctly.
- Collection times and routes are fixed, whether dumpsters and trash cans are full or not.
Most waste, even recyclable materials, is deposited in landfills.
This in turn has serious environmental and cost implications for cities and their residents. Municipalities are wasting money forcing collectors to physically visit and check the level of every dumpster. Unnecessary trips may also increase carbon emissions from collection trucks, which can impact air quality and the health of the local community.
More systemic challenges for the smart waste management IoT sector include:
- A lack of funding: Although IoT-based smart waste management in cities can be a driver of major environmental, economic and cost benefits, it's also difficult to secure a budget for an ostensibly unglamorous area.
- Staff turnover: Although waste management can support long and fulfilling careers, this doesn't marry with the perception many job-seekers have, making it difficult to attract and retain the right type of skills.