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Smart sensors bump up Edinburgh’s bin collections



Some of city’s trial areas increase waste collections by 24% using data from ultrasonic devices

City of Edinburgh council has increased its rubbish collections in a number of trial areas following the installation of smart sensors in more than 300 bins.

It has increased collections in the relevant areas by an average of 24%, and even stepped up the frequency fourfold in some places, under a trial which got under way at the beginning of the year.

The initiative began with the installation of sensors in about 100 bins in January and was followed by the provision of 200 more in April, focused on streets around the city centre, Leith Walk, Leith Links and Portobello.

A council spokesperson told UKAuthority it plans to continue the trial until the end of the year, following which it will assess the results with a view to a city-wide implementation.

“As it goes along we are changing the routes and the times when we are making collections,” the spokesperson said. “We are excited about the results.”

Ultrasonic signals

The sensors, provided by waste collection technology specialist Enevo, use ultrasonic technology to periodically send out a signal and measure the reflection within the bin to assess how full has it become.

The data is then fed to the council’s waste management system to provide alerts of when a bin needs emptying urgently, and to help in planning the collection routes. It can also help the council spot fly tipping when there is sudden spike in the results.

The technology also includes a heat sensor that provides an alert if a fire starts inside a bin, and the Enevo Pulse system, which collects data from the sensors to provide reports on waste generation patterns and whether collections are carried out as planned.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Edinburgh’s transport and environment convener, said: “We are learning a lot from this trial which has so far been a success. The sensors are currently in litter bins, but if the positive results continue we’d like to see this roll out to communal bins and recycling banks.

“The success of the pilot is attracting a lot of attention from other major cities particularly in the US, where the authorities in Washington DC have contacted us to share our experiences with them.”

Ashley Turberfield, product marketing manager for Enevo, said it has been working with more than 20 local authorities including Islington, Greenwich and Stockton-on-Tees, and that the Edinburgh project is one of the largest so far.

Image from Enevo

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