Robotics and Optical Sorting
Sensors for “Just in Time” Collection
Collection is the most expensive component of a solid waste system. So, investments that reduce collection costs can yield big benefits. The use of sensors that send data to haulers about the quantity of waste or recyclables in boxes or receptacles communicate if and/or when that container needs to be emptied. Using this information, haulers can more efficiently collect materials, save time and increase customer satisfaction. More and more commercial haulers are paying attention to this win-win scenario.
Mechanical Biological Treatment Processing
Communities seeking zero waste scenarios are quickly realizing that what becomes waste in this country is a complex mixture of organic and inorganic materials that is not easily separated. Even very sophisticated recycling programs are seeing the challenge of creating commodities from the 40 to 60 percent of their waste streams that are not readily recyclable. Where landfill costs are high or zero waste to landfills is the ultimate goal, mixed waste processing facilities that generate alternative commodities such as gas, engineered fuels or energy will have an important role in solid waste systems. Expect to see more facilities handling mixed waste in the future as European technologies find their way into niche markets in the U.S.
Forced Aeration Composting
Simple compost operations can be found in almost any community (large or small) to handle household yard debris. With pressure to convert more waste into usable products, the organic feedstock for compost facilities has expanded. Facilities are looking to more efficiently handle a wider variety of organics, including residential and commercial food waste and digestate. Taking advantage of forced aeration technology systems to improve process controls and reduce facility footprint can lead to cost efficiencies. Consequently, we expect more organic processors to add forced aeration to their systems in the coming year.
Food-Depackaging Equipment with AD
The use of AD technology in the U.S. is successfully occurring in the treatment of wastewater and sewage. Solid waste managers see the advantage of adding food waste to this system in a cost-effective way. Wastewater treatment managers, however, are resistant to handle food waste that is not in a pumpable form that can be seamlessly incorporated into their existing systems. Food waste depackaging machines provide the bridge between these two systems by converting a mixture of food with packaging or other contaminants into two separate streams: pumpable food waste and disposable waste. So, more food waste into AD systems means that we’re likely to see an uptick in food-depackaging equipment.
Driver shortages and improved safety are two reasons that the industry would like to see driverless trucks enter the market. The first, driverless trucks are closer than they appear. While it makes more sense for driverless trucks to hit other industries first due to the complexity of refuse collection, it will no doubt eventually make it to the waste and recycling industry, and manufacturers are already testing autonomous garbage trucks in urban settings. Even without fully autonomous vehicles, safety concerns have led to improved automation in refuse trucks with collision avoidance systems and autonomous braking.
The Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to advance the networking of devices between businesses, homes and the industry. IoT will allow communications to occur directly between smart bins and a central facility, ultimately adjusting and optimizing truck routes for efficiency and saving time, money and the environment.