Lesson 8: Innovative technologies used in waste management
Technology is innovating the waste management industry in many ways, turning waste into energy, creating new ways to recycle precious metals, spurring advances in route efficiency, as well as the evolution of new collection and disposal technologies.
Smart waste management refers to any system that uses technology to make trash collection and disposal more efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly [[i]].
Innovative technologies used in waste management include:
- Smart waste bins, waste level sensors, AI recycling/waste sorting robots, garbage truck weighing mechanisms, solar-powered trash compactors, and pneumatic waste pipes.
- Others are e-waste kiosks, recycling apps, smart fleets, and modern landfills powered by technologies that ensure environmental safety and sustainability.
- Most of these systems are equipped with the Internet of Things (IoT), a monitoring technology that collects and tracks real-time data to help optimise waste collection and disposal.
- Smart waste bins use artificial intelligence-based object recognition to automatically sort recyclables into separate compartments. The process reduces human error and helps to lower waste management costs, while also improving employee efficiency.
- Waste level sensors installed in bins or dumpsters of any size collect and store data on fill levels and help prevent public containers from overflowing and littering the surrounding environment.
- Recycling applications/platforms and e-waste kiosks are other innovations that technology has increased their efficiencies, reduced their costs, and created new opportunities for in the waste management industry.
The drivers and inhibitors for the digitalisation of waste management, with drivers being represented by opportunities and challenges are presented in 6‑2. Figure.
6‑2. Figure_ Drivers and inhibitors for the digitalisation of waste management 
The problem of a dwindling workforce is being addressed with the use of AI recycling robots that accurately identify and sort recyclable materials and reduce the need for human workers.
Table 6.1_Examples of existing applications of digital technologies in waste management
6‑3. Figure_ Use of digital technologies in waste management
[[i]] Inyene Ibanga, Unearthing the treasures in innovative waste management https://www.premiumtimesng.com/opinion/507777-unearthing-the-treasures-in-innovative-waste-management-by-inyene-ibanga.html