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Internet of bins: smart, solar powered trashcans in Colombian cities

June 14, 2016

Internet of bins: smart, solar powered trashcans in Colombian cities

Elaine Ramirez
Tuesday 14 June 2016 05.00 BST

Cities have a huge waste problem. Levels are expected to more than double (pdf) over the next 20 years in low and middle income countries as the population increases towards an estimated 8.6 billion by 2030.

Ecube is one of a handful of startups trying to tackle the issue through technology. Based in South Korea, the company produces solar-powered, smart waste bins which allow cities to monitor the levels of rubbish in each bin. The tech also compacts the waste. It has established some 2,500 smart waste networks at cities, campuses, amusement parks and restaurants worldwide, and expects to double the number by the end of the year.

Waste technology is not usually top of the list when it comes to smart city infrastructure; energy, transportation or water tend to get more attention. But the market is growing (pdf), with smart urban waste solutions estimated to help process more than 40% of all urban waste worldwide.

While most of the growing industry’s focus is on Europe and the US, Ecube says it wants to prove that Latin America is full of potential and is piloting schemes in Colombia. “When we talk to investors and even [the] media, they always have this misconception that our solutions are only for rich countries,” says Roger Kim, Ecube’s executive director. “We tried to prove people wrong.”

Several Latin American cities such as Bogota, Buenos Aires, Mexico City and Santiago are already adopting digital tracking of waste collection trucks, says Juan Alfredo Rihm Silva, water and sanitation specialist at the Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). “Latin America is becoming more environmentally aware and tech-savvier,” he says.

Colombia’s quasi-governmental organisation Interaseo, in charge of the country’s waste management, wanted to solve the problem of overflowing bins in busy areas where bigger bins couldn’t necessarily fit, Kim says.

Read more at The Guardian.

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