Waste management is a big issue for cities everywhere in the world. As it could be expected, more affluent Countries produces more waste, and cities are the highest producers of waste. The average production in 2012 was 0.64Kg per day per person (solid waste only). This is expected to grow to 1.42Kg per day per person in 2025. The urban waste is expected to triple in the same period from 0.68 to 2.2 billion tons per year. US produced 2.58Kg per day per person in 2012, Norway 2.8Kg, Switzerland 2.61Kg. At the bottom of the list is Ghana with just 90g per person per day!
Interestingly, technology in the last twenty years has changed the nature of the problem from a pure cost issue to a potential revenue opportunity. However, this has not diminished the hurdles facing cities in waste management.
There is waste and then there is waste… Not all waste is the same and different types requires different solutions. More recently eWaste has become a major issue. Just think that every day in Italy we throw away 85,000 cell phone. 416,000 are thrown away every day in the US.
EIT Digital along with the Climate and Raw Material KICs is starting to address this eWaste issue.
The cooperation of citizens is essential and this requires the generation of awareness (more on this when I’ll discuss the awareness infrastructure). Most of us do not really perceive the scale of the waste management problem nor the impact that each one of us an have by helping in streamlining the waste collection.
A smart city should look at the whole waste management process from collection to disposal and recycling. Data are becoming a crucial tools in waste management, along with sensors generating them.