Recycling on-the-go

Recycling on-the-go lacks infrastructure

Recycling rates for municipal waste, packaging waste, electrical and electronic equipment are slowly increasing in most Western countries, indicating some progress towards using more waste as a resource and achieving a circular economy. However, while people are committed to separate waste at home, there is a lot to do to improve recycling on-the-go.

A survey performed in 14 European countries by the LUCID polling agency with Every Can Counts revealed that most respondents (93%) would like to see more recycling bins on the streets, in public spaces, parks, beaches, or on trails. That number inches up to 94% when people were asked about large events such as festivals or sporting events.

The lack of adequate infrastructure comes out as a chief obstacle to higher recycling on-the-go rates. 83% of respondents said they always or often put their drinks packaging in the recycling bin when at home, but that number plummets to 54% in the workplace, and only 49% do so when out and about, while 48% recycle in outdoor locations like parks and beaches.

“Most respondents are ready to do more when it comes to sorting and recycling the drink cans they consume out of home, but proper recycling and collection solutions are often too scarce,” explained Every Can Counts Europe Director, David Van Heuverswyn.

On-the-go waste is carefully monitored in the UK, where about eight billion drinks containers fail to get recycled every year and are either landfilled, incinerated, or littered. A few weeks ago, Telford and Wrekin municipalities in Shropshire joined #InTheLoop, the UK’s biggest collaborative approach to boost recycling on-the-go.

First trialed in Leeds in 2018, it was piloted in Swansea and Edinburgh in 2019. Across the three projects, over 1 million plastic and glass bottles and cans were collected and recycled. In Telford and Wrekin, 25 new waste bins will be positioned strategically across the town park to encourage visitors to recycle on-the-go, providing specific guidance for correct separation.

Telford and Wrekin Council will be monitoring the impact and effectiveness of the new bins. If successful, the plan is to extend the rollout across the borough, starting with Oakengates and Newport with others to follow, making it easier for residents to recycle on-the-go in other district parks and high streets.

Does your city have recycling bins on the streets and in public spaces? Any experience or best practice of recycling on-the-go that you want to share? Contact our Smart Waste experts for further insights and ideas!

hotel waste

The Summer challenge of hotel waste management

When the Summer season is in its peak, the increased number of people in tourism areas can make waste management operations definitely challenging. Some studies proved a tourist may generate up to twice as much waste as a local resident: in highly popular towns and locations, this can negatively impact the existing waste collection system, resulting in higher operational costs for a lower quality of service, and a backlash in terms of sustainability and environmental commitment.

Hotels generate large amounts of mixed solid waste, as it is more difficult for guests to correctly separate their trash – also because many hosts lack in adequate instructions and bins. Back in 2018, a team of researchers from Rostock University, Germany, investigated hotel waste generation in Tunisia, specifically in Hammamet and Gammarth, and discovered that 83% of accommodation facilities collected mixed waste, which was sent to landfills. About 58% of hotel waste was organic, while at least 36% was made of recyclable materials that could have been valorised if proper sorting had been performed onsite to separate glass, metal, plastic, and paper.

In Tunisia, solid waste management is mainly the responsibility of municipalities. During the Summer season, most cities struggle to keep the pace with the increased quantity of trash to be treated, so many of them delegate hostel waste collection to private operators, achieving a superior quality of service at lower costs.

The above-mentioned study compared taxes paid by hotels for general services, including trash management, to waste collection costs. Despite private operators are more convenient than public organizations, results clearly marked that hotel taxes do not cover the municipalities’ waste-related expenses.

Some interesting lessons can be learnt from this case. Reducing waste generation and promoting circular economy models is a multi-faceted matter, that requires a clear strategy, an efficient infrastructure, and a widespread educational effort.

Waste management should not merely be considered an expenditure item, but an opportunity to improve quality of life and tourism attractiveness by making cities cleaner, healthier, and safer. Some municipalities are starting this change by investing in educational programs and initiatives, but also putting pressure on hotels, businesses, and households by charging fees on residual waste collected. This should encourage a more accurate trash separation and recycling.

Smart technologies can help: our Smart Waste solution allows cities and operators managers to enhance solid waste collection by monitoring bin filling and optimizing waste trucks itineraries, taking data-driven decisions about resource allocation and dispatching. Moreover, thanks to Machine Learning techniques, we are evolving our system from a raw data collection platform to an actionable prediction solution, providing an estimate of the date when the bin will reach its capacity limit.


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