How smart is your waste bin?

Each year brings another 1.3 billion tons of waste to this planet. That annual amount may more than double by the end of the century.

The 4% of the world’s population living in the United States produces more than 30% of its waste. Americans, on average, produce 4.6 pounds per of trash every day. In 2014, that meant an accumulation of 258 million tons. 89 million tons were recycled or composted.

10 smart solutions

The vast and growing quantities of waste increase the need and value of Solid Waste Management (SWM) solutions. New components and software systems have emerged, offered in varied configurations by several companies. Here, in alphabetical order, are 10 companies and the smart solutions they offer.


One way to increase recycling of plastic and glass containers is to pay consumers for them. AcoRecycling manufactures Reverse Vending Machines to be placed in transport centers, workplaces, shopping centers, parks, and schools. They also offer waste containers to be installed underground or semi-underground. They source end-to-end solutions for waste removal, including ultrasonic sensors, cloud data services, and a user portal which can be accessed from onboard waste removal and recycling trucks.


Bigbelly offers a technology platform, Connect, that goes beyond their solar-powered, self-compacting smart waste and recycling bins. Those bins can reduce collections by 70 to 80%. Bigbelly systems have been installed in the U.S. cities of Boston, Los Angeles, Louisville, New York, and Orlando as well as internationally in Melbourne and Hamburg. In some installations, the Wi-Fi technology used to report filled waste bins also supports people-counting sensors which can adjust the delivery of varied retail, transportation, and support services based on actual demand.


Urban SWM solutions from Citibrain begin with durable sensors that operate with low energy consumption. These provide data on the amount of waste along with the location and security of its container. All sensors are wireless and battery-powered. Level sensors may be infrared or ultrasound. Temperature sensors may be installed to detect fires. Where there is a need to report motion, accelerometers can be installed. Other Citibrain smart solutions address parking, air quality, and traffic.


Compology offers an image-based dumpster monitoring system. Most other systems favor ultrasonic and infrared sensors. The high-resolution images from Compology sensors reveal the type of contents as well as the volume. Also, Global Positioning System components within the sensors enable containers to be located or tracked.

Ecube Labs

The CleanCUBE solar-powered trash compactor from Ecube Labs has 8-times greater capacity than similar bins. This can reduce collections by 80%. Within the compactors and standard bins, CleanCAP ultrasonic sensors monitor the fill level and communicate over CleanCityNetworks, all components of Ecube Labs smart technologies. Over 100 municipalities worldwide have installed Ecube Labs systems.


Waste technology is more than a product at Enevo. The company provides services, connecting smart sensor hardware to continuous monitoring. Enevo monitors dumpster collection schedules in coordination with the client’s hauling company. This 24/7 service reveals when a container is filling up, full, when it has been collected, and when a collection has been missed. Data and analysis frequently return value through cost savings. On average, Enevo has found that 21% of sites can benefit from service level adjustments.

IBM Intelligent Waste Management

The IBM solution is all about data. Cities and organizations that have sensors or other sources of waste management data can import it into IBM’s Intelligent Waste Management Platform. Typical content might include bin locations, scale weights, process methods, fees for hauling and tipping, population, and weather statistics. The IBM platform supports visualization and analysis of the available data, expandable as needed. Users can assess results, find information gaps, track key performance indicators, and detect trends. An outreach portal enables customer or public access to understand and respond to waste management concerns.


A 2015 startup, Nordsense, offers a smart solution to optimize waste collection. Their weatherproof optical sensors can be installed in waste bins of all sizes and shapes. A data communications and mapping software platform they call “the internet of trash” monitors container levels and determines the optimal route for vehicles that service the bins. Additional capabilities include scheduling, trip duration estimates and cost analysis.


The Sensoneo solution for smart SWM begins with ultrasonic sensor hardware, supported by three software components. First, a management system configures the solution and monitors data from waste bin sensors. A second component, route planning, optimizes navigation and brings greater efficiency to collection. Finally, the analytics component produces knowledge out of data and becomes a key enabler of smart SWM.


Mounted to any size or shape of waste container, SmartBin wireless sensors measure all types of materials and liquids. This makes them ideal for installations where waste oil and lubricants must be recycled. The corrosive-resistant shell houses geo-tracking and internal communications devices along with the ultrasonic sensor. Weighing-in at less than 9 ounces, SmartBin sensors are powered by a battery that lasts over three years. Intelligent monitoring continuously polls the sensors, assessing fill level and transmitting optimized collection routes.

Choosing the best

These smart solutions offer unique approaches to meeting SWM challenges. For each, the goal involves efficiencies to be claimed while better service is provided. It all contributes to a cleaner environment. Organizations that are considering these and other alternatives may wonder if optical sensors would be better than infrared or ultrasound. Sometimes, the vendor choice may be an end-to-end solution with robust analytics, versus attaching components to an existing infrastructure.

ecoPreserve can help by assessing the options, recommending a configuration, facilitating the implementation, and documenting and communicating change. We bring the optimal solution to communities and organizations. It’s all based on your needs, goals, and metrics.

Further information about ecoPreserve’s Resource Lifecycle Services can be downloaded here. It takes about one minute.

Jessica Wright

Jessica Wright

Project Manager at ecoPreserve
LEED Green Associate, Florida Water AP - - A problem-solving, innovative manager, Jessica has led projects in varied scenarios including healthcare, food services, higher education, and local government. Her expertise in Zero Waste, sustainable purchasing, and waste minimization and diversion have earned her the lead of ecoPreserve’s Resource Lifecycle services. A graduate of the University of Central Florida, she also holds a degree in Sustainability from the University of Phoenix.
Jessica Wright


We empower organizations to reduce environmental impact, improve efficiency, and improve quality of life.
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