Connected Bins Cut Councils’ Carbon Footprint By a Fifth

Vodafone helps Mic-O-Data revolutionise refuse collection in the Netherlands.

An initiative enabled by Vodafone is helping local authorities in the Netherlands to reduce their CO₂ emissions by almost a fifth, while improving services and cutting refuse collection costs. Working with Vodafone, waste management business, Mic-O-Data, has rolled out 6,000 connected bins in housing estates across the country in a bid to encourage recycling.

The bins are fitted with a Vodafone M2M SIM that sends a daily status signal to the refuse collectors, alerting them when a bin is getting full or hasn’t been closed properly. This data enables the refuse collectors to arrange for full bins to be emptied or empty bins to be left, preventing staff from having to make unnecessary journeys. As a direct result, refuse collectors are now making fewer journeys and using less fuel. In some cases, councils now require fewer refuse trucks.

The bins are locked to non-residents and can only be opened using an ID card fitted with an RFID chip. As well as allowing local authorities to monitor who is using the facilities, and bill accordingly, the initiative ensures resident accountability and encourages greater use of recycling facilities.

An independent study by Environmental Resource Management looking at the impact the connected bins have had on one of the 25 local authorities that took part in the scheme, found that the City Council of Groningen had reduced its CO₂ emissions by nearly 30 tonnes a year. This is equivalent to a net saving of 18 per cent– or roughly the same amount of CO₂ that would be emitted if you drove the 208 miles from Groningen in the north of the Netherlands to Maastricht in the south 373 times.

The initiative is estimated to have saved the council around €92,000 (£72,000) by reducing fuel and maintenance costs and negating the need to own as many trucks. Across all 25 local authorities that deployed the bins, the financial and environmental benefits are expected to be considerably greater.

Waste management company Mic-O-Data started to work with Vodafone two years ago and now has a 30 per cent share of the Netherlands’ waste management market

Tim Blomer, Director, Mic-O-Data, said:
“Reducing carbon emissions is a top priority for councils today. Working with Vodafone has helped us to provide a service that is rapidly becoming a must-have for local authorities in the Netherlands and elsewhere. We are now looking at how we can take advantage of Vodafone’s global network by expanding into international markets. France is a key target market for us as 2015 will see a new law require certain type of refuse to be charged for.

Marc Sauter, Head of M2M Business Development, Vodafone Global Enterprise, said:
When Mic-O-Data first came to us, their plan was for refuse collectors to scan individual bins to track how residents were using them.

“We helped them to take this plan even further and by embedding our M2M SIM into each bin instead staff can now remotely check how full each bin is before going to collect it, and track usage. This is a great example of how our M2M technology not only makes us greener; it can also save a huge amount of time and money.”

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