Technology continues to make an impact on the waste and recycling industry as more and more companies make an investment in the latest and greatest to benefit their businesses. Increasing quality, reducing costs and streamlining processes are what these companies seek to help them make more informed business decisions.
“I expect that 2018 will see a continuation and acceleration of the use of big data being used to drive decision-making in the waste sector,” says David Biderman, executive director and CEO for the Solid Waste Association of North America. “Companies are increasingly using data to drive efficiencies and reduce costs, and Waste Management’s hiring of a chief digital officer last year reflects the higher prominence to technology in the industry.”
This year, the waste and recycling sector will see some of the same technologies as advancements are made in the more popular technological applications.
“As technology advances and existing technology expands, expect to see more applications for drones and mobile and cloud applications,” says Anne Germain, vice president of technical and regulatory affairs for the National Waste & Recycling Association.
Additionally, technology improvements will allow operators of materials recycling facilities to process recyclable materials streams with more precise separation and better removal of contaminants.
“It’s anticipated that recyclable commodity prices can expect downward pressure in 2018 and higher-quality materials will be able to command better pricing in a down market,” says Lori Scozzafava, senior vice president and operations officer for Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc. “So, we’re expecting to see greater investment in technologies like robotics and optical sorters to keep quality as high as possible.”
Germain says she is curious as to when blockchain will reach the waste and recycling industry.
“One potential use would be for tracking carbon credits generated within the industry ensuring transparency and data security,” she says. “This could yield access to greater markets and instill confidence in carbon credit purchases. So, does this mean we will be able to use Bitcoins to pay our waste and recycling bill in 2018? Maybe not, but change is happening.”
With the help of these industry experts, Waste360 highlights the top eight technology trends for 2018.