Smart Bins – An Innovative Waste Management Solution

What are the ways to minimise the massive amount of waste?

Each year Melbourne’s street bins collect 4800 tonnes of waste, and the related waste services cost around 9.8 million dollars. With the number of residents and visitors are increasing daily, the City of Melbourne is adopting new ways to reduce waste, such as introducing smart bins.

Here’s we discussed about the new smart waste bins and Melbourne’s future waste management systems.

  1. What is a smart bin?
  2. How does a smart bin work?
  3. What are the benefits of using a smart bin?
  4. Melbourne's waste management system
  5. Other countries that use smart waste bins

What is a smart bin?

Smart bins are designed to recognise different types of waste. A smart system positioned inside the container uses sensors, image recognition and artificial intelligence to do this.

They consist of IoT enabled sensors, which work as real-time indicators to determine if the bins are full or not, and help to customise the waste collection schedule accordingly.

How does a smart bin work?

Before looking at how a smart bin works, let’s have a look at its features:

  • A communication module (allows notifications to be sent when the bin is ready to by emptied, or if there are any issues)
  • Compactor (to hold rubbish)
  • A solar panel (top provide a sustainable energy source for the bin)
  • Enclosed design (to prevent pests from gaining access to the waste, and to slow down decomposition) 
  • A hopper handle


Here is how a smart bin works-

First, the rubbish is placed into the container, and the sensor measures its capacity. The compactor then compresses the rubbish and measures the compacted trash resistance. Finally, notifications are sent via e-mail or SMS when the bin is full and ready to be emptied.

What are the benefits of using a smart bin?

A smart bin offers many advantages. For instance:

  • Smart bins are environmentally friendly. By reducing the need for collection visits, smart bins lower emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases. As a result, we’re getting cleaner and safer streets.
  • Using a gentle compaction system maximises bin capacity, allowing you to keep more waste in the bin.
  • The smart bins have been standardised in a way that they can be emptied using existing collection equipment. 
  • Smart bins increase recycling rates.
  • Compared to traditional recycling bins, smart bins take up less space on the footpath, reducing clutter and making it easier for people to move around the city. 

Melbourne - A city that cares about its environment

The City of Melbourne is working on reducing waste production with a waste and resource recovery strategy, through which it will guide collection and waste processes by developing a cost-efficient, environmentally responsible waste and recovery system. The following are some future goals that the city is planning to deliver:

Here is the plan by MelbourneCityCouncil to make Melbourne a sustainable city-

  • Around the city of Melbourne, there are almost 400 solar smart bins, 2000 public litter bins and 500 cigarette butt bins; all placed to reduce litter. To make recycling more convenient, recycling bins are painted in distinctive yellow to be easily identifiable. 
  • Melbourne’s goal is to maximise its’s resource efficiency by recycling, conserving and eventually closing the waste loop to reduce waste production through resource recovery. 
  • The City of Melbourne will deliver services like options to separate organic waste, a new resource recovery hub network for businesses, electronic waste recycling options for residents and a new expert advisory service to support an improved waste system.
  • The City of Melbourne will also strengthen the Waste management Plan Guidelines for new developments, review regulations and protect and enhance critical waste infrastructure.

    Other countries that use smart waste bins

    Cities around the globe are testing smart waste management solutions to improve resource efficiency and to keep their streets clean. For example;

    South Korea

    South Korea produces solar-powered, smart waste bins which allow cities to monitor the level of waste in each bin. In Seol, the country’s capital, 6000 automated bins equipped with scales and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) capable of weighing waste when it is deposited and charging the residents accordingly by using an ID card. Now, a handful of startups are looking to the emerging markets in Latin America to trial their urban waste solutions.

    Here us a video by World Economic Forum showing how South Korea resolves the food waste problem


    Singapore is another country that successfully piloted solar-panelled smart bins, made by the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC). These bins, also called Bigbelly bins, are capable of handling fives times more rubbish, with an internal compactor to crunch down waste. As they are connected wirelessly, the monitoring and management of waste are much easier. Singapore is planning to beat unhygienic rubbish overflow by installing more smart bins around the city.

    Here's a video by Business Insider describing about Singapore's waste management system 


    A Poland-based startup is working to develop the world’s first intelligent bin, called the Bin.E. The bin uses a combination of sensors, image recognition and artificial intelligence that recognise glass, paper or plastic and then compress these materials before they are placed in the container.

    Take a look at the video made by SUEZ showing how Poland convert waste into energy

    These countries are not alone. Many European cities are testing smart waste management solutions to keep their cities clean. Cities like Amsterdam and London are installing smart solar-powered compacting bins with the latest sensor technology in public places.

    To find out more about waste management solutions, contact Metropolitan Transfer Station, a Melbourne based waste transfer station and recycling centre with a wide range of recycling and waste disposal services to meet your disposal and recycling needs.

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