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Internet of Things (IoT) for Smart Waste Management

Internet of Things (IoT) is a promising technology that can connect anything from anywhere at any time in the world. The number of IoT devices is increasing rapidly and it has been predicted that this number would surpass the global population in the coming years. IoT is a network of objects or things that are embedded with sensors and software to accomplish a certain task. Due to its numerous benefits, IoT is being used in many spheres of life. Smart transportation, smart city, health care are few applications of IoT. Waste management in cities is a complex task and requires lot of efforts. The techniques used for waste collection and its management are manually operated which consumes a lot of time. The efficiency of the waste collection system can be improved by using technological innovations like IoT.

The municipal corporations are investing great efforts and time in the management as well as the disposal of waste in the city. The waste from households is collected by the people appointed by the corporations. But there are a number of dustbins placed in the streets and its management is sometimes difficult especially in big cities. It is not possible to reach all the dustbins in a short time and remember all the locations were the bins have been placed. Therefore some of the dustbins in the remote streets remain unattended.

These roadside dustbins are not properly monitored and cleaned most of the times. It happens because it is not possible to predict the exact time of filling of dustbins. Another issue is that when the dustbins are full the people throw the waste outside the dustbins. The situation becomes worse in rainy season as the water gets mixed up with the waste and releases bad odors. This problem can be solved using IoT enabled dustbins called as smart bins for the efficient waste management system. The smart bins are enabled with sensors that can detect the level of waste inside it. These automated bins will send message alerts to the municipal authorities so that they can make arrangements for cleaning the bins. Along with this the sensors in the dustbin will send a buzzer so that people don’t dispose their waste outside the dustbins.

The people employed in the waste collection process often end up visiting the dustbins that are not full. They may even miss some of the streets due to lack of time. In other words checking of thrash levels has to be done physically. It may also happen that the municipal authorities receive complaint of overfilled dustbins but the waste collection team is unable to locate the exact place of dustbin. This method of waste collection consumes both time and energy. The automated or the IoT enabled waste collection system can reduce the unnecessary expenses that occur due to inefficiencies of the present trash collection methods. The IoT enabled smart bins along with the alert of filled dustbins can also be programmed to send the exact location by which the trash collection team can easily reach the spot. It will reduce the time required for the waste collection. Another advantage will be reduction in fuel expenses as the waste collectors will reach easily on the required destination and there will be no need to monitor each and every dustbin physically. The waste collection process can be enhanced further by using sensor enabled vehicles.

The municipal authorities can monitor the location of vehicles through which it will be easier for them to monitor the work of their team. At the same time the people involved in the waste collection process will be more accountable and sincere towards their work. The data analytics feature of IoT can be a boon in the waste management process. The analytics feature help in predicting the amount and the type of waste to be generated in future. This data can be used to plan for the recycling methods and try to develop methods for the local waste management. As discussed earlier in this article the IoT enabled systems reduce the fuel expenses but it is not only the expenses that are being reduced but the amount of fuel consumption is reduced. Less fuel consumption thus reduces the carbon footprint making the IoT technology more eco friendlier.

The smart waste collection is very interesting but there are some issues that one must be careful about. The IoT nodes that will be used with the dustbins and the vehicles are battery operated with limited power abilities. If the battery is drained, the node will not operate and the whole process will be disrupted. Another major concern is the security of the IoT based system. As the whole process is controlled over the internet there are chances of breaching or hacking. The route optimization algorithms or the software should be designed in such a way that the energy consumption of the batteries should be reduced so that the nodes will be active for longer time periods. Some security methods like the double authentication can be used so that the information of the waste collection process is accessible only by the legitimate individuals.

The expenses needed for the waste collection and its management is collected from the citizens in the form of taxes. The smart waste management systems will reduce the financial burden levied on the municipal authorities for the waste collection. It is thus cause reduction in taxes paid by the common people. Therefore it can be said that there are manifold benefits of the IoT enabled waste management systems. IoT based waste management process thus saves time, fuel, money and protects the environment.


Dr. Anjum Sheikh Qureshi

Assistant Professor,

Rajiv Gandhi College of Engieering Research & Technology, Chandrapur

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