Approximately 5 tons of waste is produced by each person within EU, and only 38% of the waste was recycled. Waste management is a way to make the Earth a better place, but at the same time, there are lots of advantages of recycling that are not obvious at the first glance.
The global waste management market was worth $2,000.0 billion in 2019
and is expected to grow to $2339.8 billion by 2027. More and more people are rethinking their opinions on ecology and pollution, supporting environmentally friendly consumption, careful attitudes, and the use of the planet's resources.
Population increase and industrial development in India, China, and Taiwan have boosted total waste worldwide. The growth of the market has led to the emergence of garbage recycling giants. Waste Management
and Republic Services
reported a revenue growth of about 8% in 2020, with $15.192 billion and $10.154 billion income for the year.
The system of separate garbage collection is regulated at the legislative level.
In all EU countries and many Asian countries, special containers for separate collection of garbage are widespread. In Switzerland, Germany, and France, incorrect waste management is punishable by a fine. In Japan and Ireland, imprisonment could also be a measure.
The public policy of developed countries is tightening the law and increasing the attractiveness of the circular economy
sectors. At the same time, smart waste management is gaining more interest and value. This vector involves digital technologies: smart garbage bins, robotic sorting, optimized garbage trucks, etc.
The competent sorting of household waste at their direct source allows improving the depth of processing. Metals and glass can be recycled almost endlessly. According to the World Gold Council
, in 2016, 70% of gold was mined and 30% came from recycled materials.
Immark manufacture in Switzerland successfully extracts gold and silver from the recycled waste.
Recycling plastic is not endless: after recycling, plastic can be used for only items not intended for food. After repeated processing, plastic is mixed with other materials, for example, added to the road coating. Paper products can be recycled up to seven times, and after that, they will become the basis of eco packaging, such as egg packs.
Smart technologies tend to be efficient, affordable, and easy to use. IoT solutions in the waste recycling sector help to save a lot of resources and reduce costs of the whole recycling process. Many initiatives like reverse vending machines stimulate recycling more, the very process of recycling that involves technological decisions
makes the process cheaper and easier for the companies, which makes the waste recycling sector more attractive for business in general.
Technological solutions qualitatively improve the process of garbage disposal. In many countries, there is a well-developed system of reverse vending machines. For example, in Germany, Finland, Sweden, and other European countries the so-called «deposit return scheme» is functioning. It means that the price of the plastic bottle is included in the final price of the product. To return the money for the plastic bottle, the consumer has to return the bottle through the reverse vending machine.
to TOMRA, the biggest reverse vending machine dealer, such technology can increase the recycling rate up to 90% - it means, that almost all
single-use plastic could be recycled.
The Finnish company ZenRobotics has created a robotic waste sorting system that accurately separates waste. The robots are installed in the production facilities. In India, GEM Enviro Management collects plastic waste from factories, offices, and hotels, and then recycles it into T-shirts, caps, and bags.
The poor timing and quality of the transport of waste are the cause for the pollution with the resulting problems (like the spread of rodents and infections). In India, there is a startup ExtraCarbon aimed to remove used items from residential buildings. In the application, the user can designate the garbage that he is ready to hand over (old things, furniture, equipment, etc.) for certain points provided by the company. Representatives of the company take out the garbage, and the user can exchange the collected points for household appliances or products in partner stores.
The American company Compology has developed its software that allows waste management companies to monitor containers for transportation of waste. The software independently calculates the optimal route of shipping containers, which allows reducing operating costs. Now Tesla, Nest, Google, Airbnb, Recology, NASA, Adidas Innovation, and others are collaborating with Compology.
Smart waste management is gaining value
Technological solutions improve recycling
Tracking is essential for recycling improvement
Finnish project Enevo develops smart sensors for control of the level filling dumpsters. This helps specialists to empty the containers in time, and the garbage does not grow near the urns. Enevo collaborates with Burger King, Panera Bread, McDonald's, and others.
Digital solutions and waste management software require traceability and security. Some companies include blockchain to trace processes, as well as give rewards for participating in the recycling. Canadian company Plastic Bank
is developing a blockchain service
that helps increase plastic waste recycling in developing countries. Their blockchain platform enables the user to exchange collected plastic waste for basic services such as clinic appointments, education, and essential goods.
Developing countries are particularly affected by plastic waste due to primitive waste disposal systems, resulting in many spontaneous landfills that pollute soil and water.
The main reason for the problems with recycling in the world is that the garbage is taken to landfill sites. European countries are first in integrating waste-free production and secondary processing.
Waste can be used as a building material. In Japan, there are two artificial islands made of waste - currently, there are two international airports situated there, and also a few roads made with the use of waste as well.
At the moment, there are several projects of the “trash roads” construction – one of them is to re-use disposable face masks
as a building material for roads. It seems like an excellent plan because the recycling of one-use masks was one of the main ecological challenges of 2020.
Another building project exists in India, where waste is used in the production of silicate blocks. This building material consists of 20% plastic waste and requires 80% fewer resources to produce.
The opportunity of tracking the progress is an essential step to continue improving recycling technologies. EU stats claims
that the amount of recycled waste is growing every year, and the situation is getting better.
There are still a lot of places on Earth where waste remains a huge problem that has a great influence on people and the environment. The good news is the new technologies can be the answer to that, and the obvious growth of a recycling sector gives hope that soon the waste issue will be at least noticed around the world. The research company Frost and Sullivan
identifies the main areas promising for development in the garbage collection and disposal market. The study highlights the emergence of cloud services for businesses waste management and mobile applications for citizens, robotic systems, analytics tools, and other waste recycling software.
The garbage disposal market is becoming promising for business along with the spread of the trend towards conscious consumption and changing society's attitude to the problem of the environment. The market already has giants with annual revenues of more than $14 billion, and until the problem of waste is solved, new ones will appear. The recycling sector is developing dramatically, and the new technologies are aimed to give the waste a second life and re-use the materials.
MediaArticlesLess damage, more awareness: Waste Management and Recycling