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Wireless sensor technology is upending the garbage industry in Europe

As literally everything around us continues to get smarter, a Finnish company named Enevo has decided to boldly venture into uncharted territory: the waste management industry. An accomplishment several years in the making, the Espoo, Finland-headquartered enterprise announced this week it’s ready to retrofit trash bins and dumpsters with its intelligent wireless sensors to help bring efficiency to the field. If all goes according to plan, Enevo believes it could help cities save millions of dollars each year simply by adjusting their trash pickup schedule based on the gathered data.

For as long as cities have offered a trash collection program, waste management vehicles would traverse a town for hours on end, picking up trash bin after trash bin regardless of its contents. A half-full dumpster here, quarter-full can there, it didn’t matter — every bin in the vehicle’s path was emptied. This practice is exactly what Enevo hopes to reform.

Once dumpsters feature the company’s wireless sensors, they’ll have the ability to relay vital information such as how full they are, if it’s ready for pickup, and when exactly it was last emptied.

A map identifying which dumpsters require pickup

A map identifying which dumpsters require pickup

“We’re trying to be a fresh wind and provide transparency in the value chain,” said Enevo founder and CEO, Fredrik Kekalainen, to CNN.

As Kekalainen pointed out, dumpsters routinely get picked up and emptied while sitting just one-third to two-thirds full of waste — an area of efficiency Enevo hopes to drastically improve. Instead of forcing a garbage truck to run its typical route week in and week out, a simple analysis of the gathered sensor data would allow these trucks to conserve the number of miles covered. Less miles driven equals an inherent preservation of money; plain and simple.

How the actual tech works is just as easy.

If a particular bin sits under the threshold for what would be deemed “ready for pickup,” the truck simply drives by and heads to the next dumpster. Thus far, Enevo reports that Antwerp, Belgium has been able to halve the number of garbage trucks its needed while Rotterdam has cut its trash pickup days by 20 percent. Not only does this allow cities to save big on waste management but it provides vital feedback for how much waste homes and businesses generate each week.

More: Kiss food waste goodbye with Whirlpool’s innovative Zera Food Recycler

There’s no word on whether Enevo plans on bringing its tech across the pond, but given how successful it has already proven to be in Rotterdam and Antwerp, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think it will reach a wider audience sometime soon.