MIAMI – Waste management in Miami is going high-tech.
With South Florida drowned in trash – with landfills filling up quickly and recycling services shut down in some cities – the pressure is on to get a handle on how we handle our waste.
And the city of Miami is testing an innovation involving cameras in dumpsters that has helped several Fortune 500 companies save millions while reducing their carbon footprint.
“I think this is going to be great for Miami, and I think it serves as a model for how the rest of the country can follow suit,” said Jason Gates, CEO of Compology.
His San Francisco based company garbage counters to help businesses manage their waste better, save them money and also save the planet.
Here’s how it works: Rugged smart cameras are installed inside the dumpsters and take pictures several times a day. Using artificial intelligence, they measure the amount of waste and the type of waste it contains.
“What we do is use the actual building data to determine the service schedule the building needs,” said Gates. “So this typically reduces the number of collections by 30-40%, which also translates into reduced costs, vehicle miles and carbon emissions.
“Waste has a huge impact on carbon emissions,” he added. “So the more we can reduce the kilometers traveled by vehicles and reduce the waste that goes to landfills, the more we reduce our carbon footprint. “
In other words, instead of regular garbage pickups on a set schedule, with this new technology, dumpsters are only serviced when they are full.
“The only thing worse than overflowing cans is a group of trucks picking up empty cans. So that will solve this problem, ”said City Commissioner Ken Russell.
Russell has given the green light to the pilot program, installing the cameras in 40 dumpsters at city-owned properties. The goal is to help reduce not only costs, but also gas emissions by 60% across the city, keeping Miami on track to be carbon neutral by 2050.
“One of the ways we can do this is to change our behavior,” Russell said. “How many large vehicles do we have on the road and how often? So if we can make our waste fleet, our urban fleet, more efficient, it changes a big carbon footprint in the city of Miami. “
It’s also a change of recycling game. By identifying the waste in the dumpster before servicing, corrections can be made if the wrong materials end up in the wrong bin.
The technology would then send a text message to the building maintenance manager.
“There is a photo of the inside of the container showing the material that is not supposed to be there and a quick message that the material is there and please remove it before the truck arrives the next morning,” Gates said.
Russell said: “We will be able to send messages to building managers indicating that there is a lot of recycling in your regular garbage. Can you work on this? “
The technology works. Over the past 10 years, Compology has helped giant companies like Apple, Google, Oracle and even McDonald’s go greener and save them up to 40% on waste transportation costs.
“They save between $ 6,000 and $ 7,000 per restaurant per year by simply correcting their service hours,” Gates said of McDonald’s.
If Miami passes the test and decides to roll it out citywide, it would be the first city in the country to implement a program like this.
“The old way of thinking isn’t working,” Russell said. “It’s wasting gasoline, it’s wasting taxpayers’ money. If the technology exists to evolve into a smarter way of handling garbage, we should. “
The pilot program will last 60 days and cost the city nothing. If the city goes ahead, then the service will run about $ 30 per month per dumpster.
But do the math. Right now, Miami spends $ 41 million a year on waste management. This could potentially save the city by 30-40% and, more importantly, help the city achieve net zero carbon emissions and better control recycling.
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