UW introduces 'intelligent' kiosks for composting, recycling, garbage

Apr 20, 2012 By Alex Credgington
High-tech kiosks are monitored remotely and compact contents, meaning fewer trips to check and empty them. Credit: News and Information

Solar-powered. Wireless. Data-driven. You might not think of these terms when describing waste collection, but this traditionally low-tech field is about to become less dirty and more digital thanks to a new program at UW.

As part of a just-launched pilot, a number of the existing outdoor garbage and recycling cans on Red Square have been replaced with high-tech, automated kiosks that collect more types of materials. The kiosks will be officially launched during a small ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m., Friday, April 20, during Earth Day festivities.

The new kiosks consist of three containers for sorting – composting, recycling and garbage – each of which is equipped with a sensor that regularly measures the mass of material inside. This information is reported wirelessly to UW Recycling & Solid Waste staff. When any of the three containers in a kiosk reaches a preset capacity, the device sends a text message notifying staff that the container is ready to be serviced.

Staff also can run reports based on historic collection information.

“The software records what’s going on with the hardware,” said Jonathan Hempton of BigBelly Solar, the company that supplies this waste collection system. “By logging into the online dashboard, staff are able to see what’s happening on the ground in real-time rather than having to regularly check containers by hand.”

The garbage container also has an automated compactor that increases the amount of garbage space by roughly 500 percent over the previous cans, and will eliminate four out of every five collection trips, according to Hempton. What’s more, the kiosks are completely solar powered.

“It’s changing the way we think about waste,” said UW Recycling & Solid Waste Manager Emily Newcomer. “We expect the increased capacity and the as-needed servicing to dramatically reduce our fuel use and disposal costs while using a sustainable energy source to create these efficiencies.”

The kiosks also include built-in billboards that will be used for educating the public about the benefits of composting and recycling, as well as how to appropriately sort waste materials into the containers.

The UW will be the first university in the country to use this system to capture all three waste types, composting, recycling and garbage, in an outdoor public area.

UW Recycling & sought the kiosks in response to results from the 2011 annual Trash-In event during which volunteers sifted through a sample of campus garbage and found that 61 percent of from Red Square was actually compostable.

Explore further: Predicting bioavailable cadmium levels in soils

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

From fork to farm

Apr 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- At Sandia's largest cafeteria, a leftover burrito will be sent off to eventually help some backyard garden bloom. When someone leaves a bit of lunch behind at Thunderbird Café, employees ...

Smashing trash with solar power

Dec 21, 2009

They seem to turn heads wherever they're installed: new solar-powered trash compactors that are meant to save time and energy.

Recommended for you

Predicting bioavailable cadmium levels in soils

17 hours ago

New Zealand's pastoral landscapes are some of the loveliest in the world, but they also contain a hidden threat. Many of the country's pasture soils have become enriched in cadmium. Grasses take up this toxic heavy metal, ...

Oil drilling possible 'trigger' for deadly Italy quakes

21 hours ago

Italy's Emilia-Romagna region on Tuesday suspended new drilling as it published a report that warned that hydrocarbon exploitation may have acted as a "trigger" in twin earthquakes that killed 26 people in ...

Snow is largely a no-show for Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

21 hours ago

On March 1, 65 mushers and their teams of dogs left Anchorage, Alaska, on a quest to win the Iditarod—a race covering 1,000 miles of mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forest, tundra and coastline. According ...

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

22 hours ago

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

Study shows less snowpack will harm ecosystem

22 hours ago

(Phys.org) —A new study by CAS Professor of Biology Pamela Templer shows that milder winters can have a negative impact both on trees and on the water quality of nearby aquatic ecosystems, far into the warm growing season.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

Making 'bucky-balls' in spin-out's sights

(Phys.org) —A new Oxford spin-out firm is targeting the difficult challenge of manufacturing fullerenes, known as 'bucky-balls' because of their spherical shape, a type of carbon nanomaterial which, like ...