Public waste collection services across the UK are usually managed by a local council or a private contractor.
The bins are often emptied on an agreed schedule, whether they are empty or full, and incur operation costs like running vehicles, including fuel, staff, time, servicing and the costs to dispose of the waste.
Data collected by REEN suggests that in wider physical collection areas, such as rural locations, the costs of collection may actually be larger than the costs charged back to the local communities, especially on bins that aren’t full.
Traveling over long distances to collect a number of empty bins can run up high costs. There could also be extra costs for waste if it weighs over a certain level. The most efficient way of clearing bins is to clear them when they are nearly full.
A key challenge to operating under this optimum efficiency model is that you need good data. Waste collection teams need to be able to determine the ideal fill level in each bin for maximum efficiency, whilst minimising both the cost and environmental impact. Until recently, it’s been hard to do this but the technologies needed are now working in the field and transforming waste collection operations.
As well as it not making sense financially to travel long distances to collect nearly empty bins, it also doesn’t make sense from an environmental or sustainability point of view. Waste collection vehicles are large and heavy with a range of impacts including fuel use, road wear, safety for other road users and effective use of resources.
The good news is that it’s now possible to accurately assess all of these impacts using technology, making it possible to identify the most efficient waste collection operations for wide-scale rural situations and complex dense urban environments. Collecting accurate data can help you collect only bins that need it on a route that’s optimised for every collection day. Not only that but the data can tell you where the bins really need to be so that you’re also ensuring the entire collection area is as effective as possible.