How Digital Technologies Enable Efficient Waste Management

Computer-based technology continues to transform our lives and lead to innovation in industries crucial to the earth’s ecological balance. One such sector benefiting from new inventions is waste management, which is responsible for keeping communities clean through waste removal and recycling. This sector utilizes digital tools that work together to advance global sustainability efforts and ensure the smooth running of operations at waste management companies.

To learn more, here’s how digital technology enables efficient waste management:

Benefits of Digital Technologies in Waste Management

Management Through Cloud-Based Software

The waste management process has become more streamlined thanks to smart waste management software and cloud computing. These computer applications help in tracking, customer service, controlling, monitoring, scheduling, organizing, and optimizing waste collection and administration. They give a digitized outline of locations where waste needs to be managed. It means displaying real-time data on bin waste levels, dumpster truck routing, and overall waste inventory.

This technology can also be used in entire districts on a large scale or by a single waste collection company. The whole management operation can be done in a semi-automated process between a waste collector and an IT company, such as and similar ones for running and management. The information generated by these programs creates a large volume of data that requires cloud services to transmit and store. Thus, it becomes necessary to be on a cloud-based platform to maintain efficiency.

Pneumatic Sorting

Separating waste is essential to reducing the chances that its byproducts don’t end up in a landfill and pollute the environment. It’s also necessary to classify waste according to recyclable materials and those that need a different disposal method.

While waste management industries mostly still use manual labor to carry out this process, the ongoing development of digital technology is likely to change this in the form of robots. Industrial robotics is an emerging science where robots are created to use pneumatic or sensor-based sorting to deconstruct waste into its simplest parts.


These robots use detectors and computerized image recognition to identify what rubbish can be dismantled to reuse or throw away its components. Doing this increases waste sorting efficiency and operational effectiveness by saving time, labor, and floor space in waste management plants.

Automation Through AI

Artificial intelligence can improve the waste management industry by providing solutions on how to optimize operations. These AI and neural networks can, among many things, use data to pinpoint the causes of waste within a particular sector. It then uses this information to configure the best possible model for a waste management company to reduce the amount of waste produced or give sustainable solutions on how to dispose of it.

For instance, an AI system can weigh food ingredients in a restaurant against usage frequency. Then, it can be used to determine how much product is needed to reduce waste and improve food waste management. Another AI application is through autonomous waste cleaning machines such as street sweepers. These processes are completed through automation and machine learning algorithms to minimize human involvement.

Smart Technology Products

It’s no secret that the internet of things is revolutionizing how people live. This constant connection of physical devices and goods to the internet and computer software also impacts waste management. Technology products such as smart bins, e-waste recycling kiosks, and waste level sensors have become commercially available for consumers, businesses, and high-density cities.

smart waste management

AI-based waste management systems can help in route optimization and waste disposal

These devices can process materials for recycling faster and eliminate the human error that comes with incorrect recycling. Sensors can detect the levels of waste in a dumpster or trashcan to inform waste management when bins need to be collected. Doing this maximizes resource use, leading to cleaner urban environments by preventing overflowing rubbish from polluting the surrounding area.

Data Analysis

Data analysis is key to utilizing digital technology in waste management optimization. Information collected through cloud services, smart technology, and AI can optimize waste management. It can be done by discovering patterns that lead to developing a more efficient business model, enhancing accuracy, and reducing costly errors.

For instance, data analysis can help identify better routes for refuse removal trucks or how to eliminate the amount of unrecyclable waste that mistakenly lands up in landfills. It can also calculate and estimate trends and the volume of waste produced within an area and evaluate how efficient the current management system is to make improvements where applicable.


Digital technology enables efficient waste management through computer software, data utilization, and artificial intelligence. These systems can be integrated and automated using smart devices that work together to improve operations such as waste sorting and waste level detection.

Furthermore, digital technology in waste management contributes to greater efficiency by using data analytics to discover trends and identify patterns that can be used to construct a better business model for the waste management company. In the end, although humans will always play a role in waste management, future technology will increasingly take over most of the labor involved.

The Use of Big Data in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals

Big data is everywhere, and all sorts of businesses, non-profits, governments and other groups use it to improve their understanding of certain topics and improve their practices. Big data is quite a buzzword, but its definition is relatively straightforward — it refers to any data that is high-volume, gets collected frequently or covers a wide variety of topics. If you want to learn big data and data science then you can take data science courses that are offered by Intellipaat.

This kind of data when organized and analyzed adequately can be quite valuable. Marketing teams use it to learn more about their customer base, healthcare professionals can use it to calculate someone’s chance of contracting a disease like Covid-19, and cities can use it to optimize traffic flow, and it can also help in saving wildlife.

Big data also has the potential to help significantly improve the quality of life for much of the world’s population. The United Nations, governments, not-for-profits and other groups are using big data to help achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals or SDGs — a set of 17 targets related to protecting the natural environment, reducing inequality, improving health outcomes and other things that will make life better around the world.

How Can We Use Big Data to Achieve SDGs?

There are many ways in which we could use data to improve our understanding of our progress towards the SDGs, determine how best to meet those targets and ensure accountability. The United Nations has set up a task team to explore how to use big data to help achieve the SDGs. A survey by the task team found that big data projects most frequently focused on the “no poverty” goal and that mobile phone data was the most common data source.

Pulse Lab Jakarta, a joint effort between the United Nations and the government of Indonesia, is working on various big data projects related to the SDGs. One of their projects is the Vulnerability Analysis Monitoring Platform for Impact of Regional Events (VAMPIRE) platform, which analyzes satellite imagery and creates maps that incorporate anomalies related to climate and rainfall to help track slow-onset climate changes.

Another project, the Manitoba Bioeconomy Atlas, comes from the International Institute for Sustainable Development and involves that creation of a web-based spatial inventory of biomass sources. Biomass producers can use the data to optimally locate biomass refineries, and biomass consumers can use it to source biomass and calculate costs.

There are many other potential uses for big data related to the SDGs. Mobile phone data, for instance, could be used to track the movement of populations, such as refugees, to improve preparations. Data analysis could help predict changes in food prices. The possibilities are virtually endless.

What Are the Challenges and Risks?

The opportunities related to big data are plentiful, but there are also numerous challenges and risks. Collecting, storing and analyzing large amounts of data is in itself challenging. It requires advanced technology and infrastructure, which can be expensive. This limits the access of less developed countries to this technology. In the survey by the UN’s bid data task team, the team received much higher response rates from high-income countries than lower-income ones.

Privacy is another significant concern. It’s essential that those processing respect the rights of those they collect data from. The fact that much data is collected passively can complicate this. Even removing sensitive information from data sets may not always be enough to guarantee privacy, since people could be identified by combining information from multiple data sets. Those handling personal data need to take steps to protect subjects’ privacy.

The UN, through several of its groups, has issued recommendations and guidelines for the use of big data related to SDGs. Among the goals of these guidelines is ensuring privacy and increasing access to data worldwide. The private and public sectors, as well as countries and organizations from around the world, will have to work together to accomplish the UN’s SDGs and to ensure that we can take full advantage of the benefits big data and machine learning can provide related to achieving them.