Here’s a quick look back at our 2017 WASTECON experience along with a few other highlights we found interesting along the way

This past week, we had a chance to spend some time with the extended waste and recycling community at The Solid Waste Association of North America’s (SWANA) WASTECON.

Thanks to SWANA and ISWA for organizing a great event focused on the modernization of waste and the positive impact technology can have now and in the near future.

Highlights from WASTECON

1. Jim Fish, CEO of Waste Management, discussed the importance of continued education in improving recycling rates.

Our Takeaway:  Data collected through waste sensors, like Compology’s, provide a new set of information previously not available. This new information can help to advance industry knowledge about what is happening “at the curb”, and in turn, provide more targeted, data supported education and training for waste generators and smart cities to improve recycling practices.

2. Jim Fish also discussed evolving customer needs and how Waste Management is looking where technology can make in impact across the board. One such potential impact he reviewed was how data collection allows haulers the ability to provide customers, like a Pepsi, accurate information on what percentage of recyclables are going into their recycling streams versus their waste streams.

Our Takeaway:  As the only image-based container sensor on the market, Compology can be the right solution for waste haulers, cities or waste generators looking to gain visibility into recycling and waste streams to identify contamination or track recycle rate improvements.

3. Sérgio Pedreiro, CEO of Estre Ambiental, discussed the huge opportunity in enforcement and oversight in waste, quoting that 47% of MSW is not properly serviced due to lack of proper infrastructure.

Our Takeaway:  Sensors providing visibility into the waste process and can provide a much needed benefit to haulers, generators and cities looking to improve practices, enforce policies or measure and meet sustainability goals.

4. Antonis Mavropoulos, ISWA President and Founder of D-Waste, discussed the results of an ISWA industry survey revealing sentiment of the waste management industry is that advanced sensors and the Internet of Things will have a big impact on the way we operate in the near future.

Our Takeaway:  Sensors providing visibility into the waste process and can provide a much needed benefit to haulers, generators and cities looking to improve practices, enforce policies or measure and meet sustainability goals.

Overall for WASTECON Takeaway

The far-reaching impact of the waste and recycling industry was highlighted through the wide range of trending topics varying from the circular economy, sustainability and climate change to smart cities and big data. Our industry is an essential service, and the time is now for us to embrace thought leadership and technological innovations, like the Industrial Internet of Things, to work smarter and contribute towards the overall benefit of our local and global communities. Most people may think of the word “dirty” when they think of the waste and recycling industry, but soon enough they’ll be thinking of another “d” word. Digitization.

Panel Recap: Smart Technologies & Their Impact On Collection & Transportation of Waste

On The Current State of Technology Adoption

ISWA President, Antonis Mavropoulos, lead a discussion around the inevitability of smart technologies entering the waste industry.

“ If the waste management industry thinks it will be kept out of this [smart technology] movement, they are making a big mistake. 

Antonis Mavropoulos – President – ISWA

“ I don’t think this has been a high tech market for a very long time…and the only way to get better at what we do is with business intelligence, and the only way to get business intelligence is to deploy technology.

Don Diego Padilla – CEO – Fleetmind

On Technology Integration

The panel also discussed the various technologies bringing new solutions to the waste industry and how, ultimately, inter-connectivity is the path to success.

Jason Gates – CEO – Compology:  “No one solution is going to be the answer and it’s going to end up being a combination. And so as a technology provider, what we think a lot about is how are these different solutions going to interact with one another…The question about integration, how data is going to flow between different products or solutions is always top of mind.”

On Automation

While discussing the impact of automation, Mark Rogoff of SCS Engineers cautioned that our industry should pay attention to any potential shifts in job force needs now as to not let it become problematic later.

Don Ross – Director Sales and Marketing – McLaughlin Family Companies:  “[Job elimination or reduction in workers], through my experience, hasn’t really occured…The industry as a whole doesn’t really have a very good, strong bench in the field per se, and there’s a case of redeployment that occurs after automation takes effect.”

Gates introduced another perspective, showing how technology can help expand services without a negative impact on the job force: “In the collection business, what we often see is folks are coming to us saying that they want to be able to offer more services. For example, organics collection is an additional container that needs to be serviced by trucks and rather than have to go out and buy more trucks, [hire] more drivers, how can you take the same fleet that you already have and expand it’s capacity and how can you use technology to do that?”

On the Immediate Value of Data Collection

The panel discussed the application of data and what challenges are real and which may be perceived:

On Technology Implementation

The panel also gave their final take on the implementation of technology right now rather than down the line.

  • Ross: “Technology is here today. It’s only going to get better the more we use it, the more we work with, the more we refine it, the more we understand the value it presents to our operations.”
  • Padilla: “The key to success isn’t whether you fall of track, the key to success is how quickly you get back on track, and that’s what technology does. It gives you the real-time information to immediately see, ‘hey this is not how we planned on doing this, we need to make some corrections’…”
  • Gates: “I’m impressed with the speed at which we are moving…The technology we have on the market today is remarkable and is going to continue to get better.”
Overall Smart Technologies Takeaway

The technology our industry needs to digitize and modernize is already available today from truck technology to robotics to automated sensors, and is rapidly improving. These technologies can provide us with the information we need to work smarter to solve global challenges, while at the same time improve our bottom lines. Whether this information is small (simple) data, such as the location of a truck or container, or big data, we can begin to take advantage of abundant and accurate information right now.

Learn how compology can benefit you