During 2015 Circular Economy gained significant momentum across the globe which we see continuing through 2016 and beyond. Combined with Smart technologies, the Internet of Things and big data, we see 2016 as being a year that we come to see as a major moment in the shift to smart and more sustainable waste management.
Recent examples include a group of local government agencies in Victoria, Australia, who joined together to create the ASPIRE software tool that identifies potential business to business resource exchanges. The aim is to enable manufacturers and councils to reduce the amount of waste that goes into the landfill, reducing waste costs and improving the economic development in the region. Detroit has launched a project called the Reuse Opportunity Collaboration that brings together business and industry to create closed-loop systems where waste from one source becomes another’s raw materials.
The main drivers behind circular economy initiatives like these are cost efficiency, reduced waste and emissions, but legislation and regulation is playing a increasing role too.
In December the EU passed their circular economy package and this could provide a key opportunity for forward thinking cities to accelerate transformations of how they manage and process waste in 2016 and beyond.
The EU announcement targets recycling levels of 65% for municipal waste by 2030, along with 75% of packing waste and a reduction to 10% maximum landfill waste during the same period. Policy makers, city officials and citizens are all increasingly understanding that more sustainable resource use is of vital importance for our communities as we move forward.
Waste collection and processing also represent a significant cost in many cities with around 8-10% of total budgets and many places are under pressure to reduce costs. However the fact that cities populations are typically growing can make this seem like a difficult combination to balance.
The good news is that new technology solutions have reached maturity and are proven to significantly reduce collection costs and the physical impact of waste collection whilst also increasing efficiency, cleanliness and reducing complaints. New data driven waste analysis and collection approaches like our own also enable cities to switch from being reactive about the levels of types of waste they are collecting to knowing in advance what waste is being generated and where. This significant point of change is a gateway to proactive recycling that harnesses many environmental and resource benefits.
The Internet of Things, incorporating big data analysis, smart monitoring and predictive software modelling enables this step change in how we approach and manage waste in urban environments. Technology, proven in the field, will enable more cities in 2016 to demonstrably cut costs, reduce environmental impact & more easily increase recycling. As old waste management contracts expire, we believe that more and more cities will embrace these new ways of managing waste for the benefits of all stakeholders.
Enevo's SmartWASTE project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 724613.