10 Emerging Waste Management Technologies Changing the Future of Managing Waste

10 Emerging Waste Management Technologies Changing the Future of Managing Waste


Waste management is one of the most challenging industries to innovate in, but it’s also among the most important. Our ability to manage waste is a critical factor in whether we have a sustainable future on Earth or not. Fortunately, new technologies are emerging that will revolutionise waste management and help create an environment where we can all live better lives while protecting our planet and wildlife.

The world produces approximately 2.2 billion tons of waste annually, and that number continues to grow. The global rise in disposable income and the increase in urbanisation are only accelerating this trend. According to the United Nations, by 2050, 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. 

To meet this demand for space and services, cities have expanded outward at an exponential rate over the past few centuries. To manage these changes and keep pace with the new demands being placed on them, municipalities around the world are implementing innovative solutions for managing waste — both on a macro and micro level.

In this article, we’ll explore 10 emerging waste management technologies that are changing the future of managing waste.

  1. The Automation of Waste Management

Automation is the use of various devices and systems that can perform tasks without human intervention. These days, automation is a key component in all industries, including waste management. Automated solutions can be used to reduce cost, improve efficiency, and increase productivity in waste management. Automation has been implemented across different stages of waste management like kerbside waste collection, waste sorting where pneumatic sorting technologies and eddy current technologies are used for sorting plastics and metals respectively.,


  1. Landfill Waste-to-Energy Technologies


Another way to manage waste is to turn landfills into energy sources. Waste-to-energy production is a process that converts waste into energy. This can be done by burning waste to produce heat or electricity, or turning organic material into biofuels. It’s also known as “waste-to-energy conversion,” “energy from waste,” and “waste incineration.” Incinerators with energy recovery systems installed are used to recover heat from landfill while technologies for processing the gases from waste decomposition into an energy source are becoming efficient and economical and are seeing wide-scale adoption for energy recovery from landfills. 


Landfills are a source of methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas that can be used to generate electricity. In order to convert landfill waste into electricity, you will need an LFG (Landfill Gas) system. This system uses the methane in the landfill to burn and produce heat which in turn produces steam that runs turbines that generate electricity. It’s a cost-effective way for power plants or businesses to produce their own power without needing expensive equipment like solar panels or windmills.

  1. Wastewater Treatment & Reuse Technologies

Wastewater treatment is a process that removes harmful substances from wastewater before it’s reused or discharged into the environment. Wastewater can be treated to be used again, or treated in a way that produces clean water suitable for drinking or irrigation.

 Wastewater treatment technologies include:


  • Liquor recovery systems (LR). These are used to capture valuable chemicals and materials left over after processing industries like pulp and paper mills. These systems separate solids from liquid using a centrifuge, then treat the remaining liquid with high-pressure spray nozzles to separate out tiny particles of wood fibres, plastics, glass shards and metals into an extremely fine sludge that can then be further processed into products like biochar charcoal, a renewable energy source).


  • NF(Nano-filtration) and RO(Reverse Osmosis) Systems. NF and RO are membrane processes that can be used to remove waste materials that otherwise contribute organic carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus, to reduce total dissolved solids, and to remove viruses. RO operates by high-pressure diffusion of solutes through the membrane; NF uses both diffusion and sieving action. NF removes many of the same organic compounds that would be targeted with RO but allows more of the inorganic material to remain. Both systems are useful for removing pesticides, pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other micro-constituents. NF and RO are primarily used where water reuse is the treatment goal.


  • Microwave UV Disinfection. UV disinfection transfers electromagnetic energy from a mercury arc lamp to wastewater. Electromagnetic radiation, between the ranges of 100 to 400 nm (UV range), penetrates bacterial cells, and works as a bactericide. Microwave UV disinfection systems are available in modular, open-channel, and closed-vessel designs


  • Automated Variable Filtration (AVF) technology is a state-of-the-art technology used for wastewater treatment in which upward flow of influent is cleaned by the downward flow of filter media. During the treatment process itself, the filter media is cleaned by the filtered influent thus there is no requirement for any additional filter media cleaning or freshwater. This system has the benefit of eliminating the need for ancillary equipment and being cost effective to install and maintain. 

  1. Precision Recycling Using Artificial Intelligence (AI)


AI has the potential to revolutionise the recycling industry. It can be used to identify materials, such as plastics, metals, and paper. AI can also help analyse the quality of recycled materials and determine the best way to recycle a product. This technology will improve existing recycling facilities by making them more efficient.

  1. Microplastic Detection Technology

Microplastics are a growing problem, as they’re found in products we use every day—from water bottles to cosmetics. Currently, there are no methods of accurately detecting microplastics. However, researchers from around the world are working hard to change that.

One method of detection involves analysing wastewater for traces of microplastic fibres or fragments with a spectroscopic analysis system that can detect particles as small as 10 micrometres wide (about 1/8th the width of an average human hair). This method is already being used in Europe and Asia; however, it has some limitations: it’s expensive and only able to detect certain types of plastics such as PET. 


Another method uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology to identify specific chemicals present in the waste stream—based on what was originally put there when manufacturing packaged foodstuffs like drinks and snacks—and then searches for those same chemicals inside bigger pieces left behind after they’ve been flushed down toilets or washed down drains at home. This approach allows scientists to identify whether something came from packaging directly by looking at its molecular composition; however, again this technique has its drawbacks as well: it doesn’t always work well on very small particles because they don’t have enough DNA material left behind after being washed away by water flow so quickly; furthermore, not all waste treatment plants use PCR machines since they require specialised training.

  1. Robotic Garbage Collectors

Waste collection is one of the most labour-intensive tasks performed by waste management companies. Not only do they have to drive their trucks around town picking up bins from businesses and homes, but they also have to empty them into larger dumpsters when they reach their final destination. This process can be very time-consuming and costly if you rely only on human workers to perform it.

To help solve this problem, many companies have begun testing out robotic garbage collectors (RGCs)  or autonomous garbage collection systems as an alternative to manual labour. RGCs are essentially automated vehicles that can drive around town picking up bins without human assistance. They use cameras and GPS technology to map out where all of your bins are located so they can empty them.

  1. Internet of Things (IoT) to Monitor Waste


The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a network of physical devices, vehicles, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors and actuators which enable these objects to connect and exchange data. IoT has been used extensively in waste management for route optimization for garbage collection fleets and improving operational efficiency for scheduling and emptying waste bins. 


IoT is also being used in waste management to monitor the lifecycle of waste products from their origin to their final destination. This includes monitoring the waste products as they move through various waste management facilities such as recycling centres or landfills.


By using IoT technology in waste management, companies can reduce operational costs while increasing efficiency in their operations. For example, they can use IoT technology to track inventory levels more accurately so that they don’t have an excess of resources like collection trucks or waste containers. Companies like Sensoneo and Wastehero offer solutions adopting these technologies to help waste management companies and municipal authorities manage waste more efficiently.


IoT technology also allows companies to monitor equipment performance so that maintenance schedules can be optimised for maximum uptime and productivity. For example, if a piece of equipment is not working properly or needs maintenance then it will automatically send out an alert so that maintenance staff can take care of it before it breaks down. This is used with waste management equipment like food waste compactors and digesters.


Sensor tech is used for smart waste management to track fill levels of waste bins. This improves planning and efficiency as waste collection can be scheduled when the sensors indicate that they are full rather than on a scheduled basis when some bins end up being collected when they are not full. These sensors are also used to detect the presence of waste, the type of waste and its location. Waste sensors can also determine how much trash is being generated by a given household so that recycling efforts can be adjusted accordingly. As these technologies continue to develop, we’ll see an increase in their adoption across industries including construction, retail and hospitality among others. 

  1. Data Analytics to Improve Waste Management Systems


Data analytics can be used to optimise waste management systems. Data analytics can help identify patterns and trends and improve efficiency, reduce costs and improve resource allocation.


For example, if a data analytics tool is used to monitor the amount of garbage produced by schools in certain districts during school hours, the data collected can be used to adjust collection frequencies and waste recycling containers. This could mean sending out an extra recycling truck when the volume of trash increases during lunchtime or adjusting the placement and quantities of recycling bins and cages to areas where production is high.


Real-time waste data analytics using AI can help scale predict waste generation patterns which would significantly reduce the time and resources required for planning waste management operations at city levels. 

  1. AI Solutions for Waste Management


AI based technologies can be used at different stages of the value chain for waste management to improve operational efficiency and enhance planning for resources optimization and recycling. One of the main benefits of using artificial intelligence in waste management is that it helps us better understand our garbage. This information can improve how we manage our garbage. 


AI models can be used to analyse data from waste production sources and that can be analysed to gain insights on ways to improve procurement processes to manage procurement more efficiently even before waste is generated. AI models can also be used to integrate operating processes in companies into the circular economy to help them streamline their processes to enhance resource conservation.


  1. Recycling Robots


Recycling centres play a crucial role in reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills each year. However, one of the biggest costs for recycling centres is relying on human sorters to sort through recyclable materials by hand. 


Advances in robotics have seen the development of AI-powered robots that can help pick up some of the slack. These robots are designed to accurately identify and sort recyclable materials, increasing efficiency and reducing the need for human workers. This not only saves recycling centres money over time, but also helps divert materials that would otherwise end up in landfills.



As the global population continues to grow and the adverse impact of global warming is accelerating by the day, leveraging technology will be essential to help manage waste more efficiently. As we have seen in this article, there are an increasing number of emerging waste management technologies that help to create a cleaner city and reduce their carbon footprint by correcting the problems in the typical waste chain. 

Many of these disruptive technologies have yet to reach critical mass and become widely adopted, but they do offer some hope for cities that are looking to create a greener community or reduce their overall impact on the environment.


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