Waste disposal gets digital makeover

Waste disposal gets digital makeover
The waste and recycling sector is seeing the impact of digtial technologies, although low tech, low investment operators need to be convinced, says Frost & Sullivan.
Published: 14 August 2018 - 12:35 a.m.
By: Mark Sutton

The waste disposal and recycling sector is undergoing digital disrupt like any other sector, according to Frost & Sullivan.

The analyst company says technology such as IoT-enabled waste bins, plastics recycling for use in 3D printing, and better use of data in garbage collection processes are all enhancing the efficiency of the sector.

"The waste recycling market, like its end-user industries, is experiencing disruptive changes due to the advent of advanced digital technologies. For example, smart waste bins with IoT capabilities will play a significant role in changing the way waste is collected and sorted," said Deepthi Kumar Sugumar Research Analyst Energy & Environment. "Similarly, the rise of 3D printing technologies has made it much easier to recycle plastic waste. Many industries are turning plastics into high-quality filaments to replace spares, lowering the need for re-manufacturing."

Frost & Sullivan's Global Waste Recycling Market Outlook, 2018 notes that the use of cutting-edge technologies is giving rise to innovative business models such as commercial waste collection zones. These models allow haulers to invest in infrastructure improvement and introduce inventive methods for municipal solid waste collection. By optimizing waste collection routes, combining real-time data, and employing data-related technologies such as predictive analytics, it will be possible to eliminate the unplanned dispatch of vehicles to collect waste. BHS, ISB-Global, and Trinov are a few notable companies that perform waste analytics and reporting to improve waste management efficiency.

"Another important technology that could have far-reaching consequences for the waste management market is augmented reality (AR)," noted Sugumar. "AR can help any manufacturer make informed decisions to prevent waste in the first place. Though AR is still evolving, it will change the way waste reduction and management is conducted in the future."

The report also points out that although technology has improved waste management considerably, market participants using these technologies will be challenged to convince industries employing conventional, low-OPEX, low-CAPEX methods to switch to modern systems. They need to be made aware of the role novel recycling systems can play in enabling a circular economy.

The report also notes that close to 48.2 million tonnes of eWaste was generated in 2017, of which only 20-25% was documented to be collected and recycled. The remaining waste was either landfilled or disposed of unsafely or illegally in lesser developed countries. This scenario is likely to persist in the absence of stringent regulations, closed-loop supply chains, and greater producer responsibility.

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