Smart waste management could help USA reach government targets for recycling

According to the USA’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only 30% of waste in America is recycled, despite the fact that 75% of it is actually recyclable. The rest of the waste is either incinerated or put into landfill, says freelance technology writer, Jocelyn Brown, which is having a devastating effect on the environment.

The current global waste management system is simply not sustainable in the long term. Taking responsibility for managing waste needs to start at a grass roots level if government targets are to be met, it is down to individuals to help. This is where the Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Waste Management systems can help make a difference. 

The targets

Back in 2015, the U.S. Government set targets for reducing waste on a national level. By 2030, they want to reduce general waste and food loss by 50%. Considering that US$240 billion (Є202.93 billion) worth of food is wasted every year, the targets are going to be difficult to reach unless both individuals and companies take responsibility for helping.

Small changes including composting, meal planning and making sustainable home improvements will make all the difference. The advances in IoT and Smart Technology can also offer a real solution to effective waste management, both at home and for businesses. Smart waste management is helping trash collectors be more efficient when collecting and dealing with the waste we produce. 

A connected system

Communication is key when it comes to effective waste management. A microchip in your household waste bin, which is connected to the central software system, monitors the level of trash and sends this data to the smart waste management system. If the bin is full, it will automatically be placed on the most efficient route for the pick-up service to collect.

The pick-up service isn’t wasting time checking on bins that are half-full, or producing greenhouse gases driving large trucks unnecessarily. They can then maximise their time spent, focusing on the recycling and reuse of the waste collected. Real-time monitoring of trash levels means that a smart schedule can be created from up-to-the-minute data, making the system more efficient as a whole.

Household waste

Jocelyn Brown

Smart waste management at home works on a smaller scale, and can help you to understand the amount of trash and food waste that you’re producing on a daily basis. The data provided by the waste and recycling bin microchips can tell you how much waste you’re sending to be recycled, and how much is going to end up being incinerated and going to landfill. You can then take steps to improve upon that data, taking personal responsibility for reducing your waste. Even small steps, such as composting, can help improve the bigger picture so that you’re living in a more sustainable way. 

America reaching its government target of 50% by 2030 is certainly achievable. However, individuals will need to be far more efficient in recycling waste. IoT technology and smart waste management systems can help the country reach these targets, and ultimately reduce the waste that ends up in landfill. 

The author is freelance technology writer, Jocelyn Brown.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow

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