Waste management has become one of the most significant industries that focuses greatly on the technological advancement and implementation of environmentally sustainable methods for dealing with waste.

The need for progress in this sector is immense, given the fact that we generate 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste annually, with at least 33% of this waste not being managed in an environmentally safe manner. Looking forward, global waste is expected to grow to 3.40 billion tonnes by 2050.

Reprocessing waste into energy, equipping smart bins with sensors, and optimizing waste collection are just a few of the innovation areas pushing the industry towards an automated and more sustainable future of waste.

Our research team has analyzed more than 4.500 startups in the Waste Management sector to identify emerging technologies and innovation areas. In the following, we will share our insights into the most promising fields for this industry. Discover the future of Waste Management!

 


Global waste is expected to grow to 3.40 billion tonnes by 2050.

Zero Waste

One major objective of today’s waste management industry is to give up the linear make-use-dispose model and go “circular”, or implement a system where nothing is sent to a landfill. From reducing what we use to reusing, recycling and composting – the methods to achieve this goal vary.

High-tech recycling plants turn waste into building materials, fuel or electricity; composting facilities and other innovative organizations collect waste and transform it into new products bring us closer to a zero-waste world.

TerraCycle, for example, creates and offers collection systems for the least-recyclable waste items such as cigarette butts and energy bar wrappers. Making use of the circular approach, this startup brings recycling to its users by finding the closest drop-off location for their waste to then reuse, upcycle or recycle these items.

Zero Waste

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Robotics

The robotic processing of waste is expected to become fully automated soon, as artificial intelligence (AI) further progresses. Robotic pickers recognize and extract recyclable items from landfills, robotic arms sort waste, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) transport full bins to compactor stations.

More applications for robotics in the waste sector include the automatic collection of trash bins using robotic arms on collection trucks and robots dismantling or disassembling various objects.

ZenRobotics specializes in AI-controlled robotic solutions that accurately separate and sort different waste types and objects simultaneously in one spot. The startup combines data from multiple sensors to analyze the waste stream in real-time. After the data from sensors has been analyzed, robots can make autonomous decisions on which objects to pick and how to sort them.

Robotics

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Waste-to-Energy

Waste-to-energy or energy-from-waste is considered to be one of the most important alternative energy sources that can replace fossil fuels and recover energy from waste that otherwise ends up on landfills.

Incineration or gasification methods are used at waste-to-energy plants to convert municipal and industrial solid waste into electricity or heat for industrial processing and heating systems.

SpecFUEL has succeeded in creating a sustainable and cost-effective alternative fuel source from waste. The startup converts waste into renewable, clean burning and easy to handle fuel, 99% made up from paper and plastics, that is competitive with petcoke and coal market prices.

Waste-to-Energy

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Smart Bins

The Internet of Things (IoT) has connected virtually every object surrounding us, and waste bins are no exception. Equipped with sensors, smart waste bins are becoming an essential element of any Smart City.

Operators can monitor the fill-level, temperature, and conditions of trash bins in real-time using cloud software. This aids in optimizing collections rounds to empty only full bins, ultimately saving costs and time.

Enevo develops ultrasonic fill-level sensors to monitor dumpsters’ fill levels, allowing customers to only pay for the pick-ups they really need. Connected to Enevo’s cloud service, the solution offers fill level data, integration with fleets, service needs predictions, and notification alerts if suspicious movements or temperatures are detected within a container.

 

Smart Bins

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Data Analytics

Data is a key component when it comes to effective and cost-efficient operations. Data generated by your company can be analyzed and interpreted to support data-driven decision making.

Key metrics such as CO2 emission rates and savings from recycling, collection, and deposit costs to statistics on each waste stream assist in determining the most environmentally friendly and economically effective way to improve or amend operations.

Trinov improves waste management efficiency through data and algorithms. Their software automatically gathers data from waste haulers to monitor waste production and produce administrative and financial documents.

This makes it possible to plot the waste stream generated to simulate the potential use of waste products such as energy recovery, recycling, composting etc. This modeling measures the financial and environmental impact of each scenario before making a decision.

Data Analytics

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Route Planning & Optimization

Sticking to pre-defined waste collection routes regardless of whether trash bins are full or almost empty has never been effective. Today, it has become much easier to plan individual collection routes in advance based on fill-level data from bin sensors.

Real-time traffic information is used to optimize routes even further, providing drivers with the shortest or fastest routes, resulting in greater cost saving.

Sensoneo‘s software solution optimizes collection routes as well as frequency and vehicle load based on precise, pre-defined data about fleets, depots, and landfills. The solution comprises ultrasonic IoT sensors that use wireless transmissions, cellular or narrowband IoT. The tool can also semi-automate navigation.

Route Planning & Optimization

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Fleet Data

Technologies like windshield-mounted cameras, GPS and apps for waste truck drivers transmit real-time data to cloud software and analytics platforms. Based on this information, operators can make informed decisions thereby saving time, money and fuel.

Collecting fleet data also makes driving safer and provides fleet operators with information about vehicle condition and driver performance. For high-tech trucking, telematics and video are two core components.

EcoMobile equips trucks with central computer and controller units and installs RFID antennas on waste collection trucks for automatic bin identification. All data is submitted to the cloud in real-time via GPRS and then forwarded to a billing software.

Fleet Data

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Biodegradable Plastics

As our society puts more attention on environmental safety and sustainability, a new type of plastics has appeared. Biodegradable plastics are a plant-based product already disrupting the packaging and materials sectors.

The advantages of biodegradable plastics are many as they are not hazardous to local ecosystems unlike traditional plastics and can be recycled and disassembled.

Plantics offers a 100% bio-based plastics in various forms like foam or granules. The solution is fully biodegradable and compostable, unlike traditional oil-based plastic products.

It is produced without any use of toxic chemicals and does not release any toxic chemicals when recycled. In addition, it can compete economically with conventional petroleum-based plastics.

Biodegradable Plastics

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

The innovation areas above are only several of the ones our Innovation Analysts have uncovered during their research.

Alternative fuel used in waste collection trucks to decrease the level of CO2 emissions as well as electric or hybrid trucks; driverless sensor-powered trucks that can autonomously collect trash bins; smart underground or compacting bins equipped with solar panels; on-demand waste pickup apps and Pay-as-you-Throw apps, optical sorting are other innovation areas disrupting the waste management industry.

Companies with the right insights into emerging technologies and the future of the industry gain a powerful competitive advantage on their way to becoming an industry leader.


Alternative fuels, smart bins & on-demand pickups are the future of waste management.
Get in touch for more insights into the future of waste management!
Get in touch for more insights into the future of waste management!




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