Managing urban waste is a problem all cities grapple with. With more than 3,500 bins across the Dublin City Council area, Dublin City Council wanted to understand if ‘smart bins’ could provide a more efficient way to managing waste. Importantly, the project also investigates an innovation services leasing model that has additional sensors for assessing people flow and air quality among others; WiFi connectivity for the public; hosting capabilities for telecoms equipment; as well as advertising and community messaging opportunities.
Dublin City Council has partnered with Big Belly Bins (supplied by Irish company Kyron Street) to install 110 smart bins across the Dublin Docklands area over a 30-month period. Up to 5 times of waste holding capacity can be obtained through these smart bin compared to an ordinary bin of the same size. This is done through an automated compactor that compresses the waste on an hourly average basis, powered by photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the bin.
The sensor provides real-time information to the city council waste management operations teams showing the capacity of each of the bins. This allows management and operational staff to see how much waste each bin contains in terms of percentages, for example, 20%, 60%, 80% full etc. The sensors also communicate which bins have not reached their capacity but are obstructed, typically with bulky items such as a pizza box or broken umbrellas. This information is easily accessed through an internet-enabled device such as a smart phone, which opens up an online dashboard digital map.
The smart bins have proven to be a tactful method of preventing pest interference of disposed waste. Due to the closed unit design, in direct contrast to a standard open-air bin, pests and birds cannot access the content of the bins. Additionally, the mechanical foot pedal opening the bin allows for a more sanitary function, a feature that is highlighted due to Covid-19.
In addition to the above waste management functions, the smart bins would also bring value through other key exploratory elements such as:
The successful deployment of smart bins across the Dublin Docklands has brought significant efficiencies and milestones including:
The 30-month pilot would continue to be evaluated for operational and fiscal viability, as well as its contribution to not just waste management objectives, but overall corporate goals of the city council through these added innovation services.