Can Smart Bins Solve the Problem of E-waste?

The problem of e-waste

Around 20-50 million tonnes of e-waste is discarded every single year. This type of waste makes up 5% of global solid waste, and much of it is hazardous. When e-waste ends up in landfills, hazardous materials like lead, mercury, and cadmium can leach into the soil and waterways. E-waste in Europe is growing at between 3 and 5% every year.

E-waste is becoming an increasing problem due to the amount of people who constantly upgrade their mobiles, computers, and TV’s. Our throwaway society, where everything is temporary, is causing permanent problems.

Smart bins-a possible solution?

You may have already heard of the smart waste bins that send a signal to waste collectors when they are full, but did you know that Fujitsu Australia has come up with a smart bin for e-waste?

The company have come up with the solution to solve the problem of the fact that many businesses don’t have any formal arrangements for proper disposal of e-waste like computers and laptops. What often happens is they just get dumped in a storeroom somewhere, or even worse, disposed of illegally in landfill or exported overseas.

How the bin works

The bin is fitted with sensors that monitor how full it is, it’s location, and its temperature. The sensors will last for 10 years once they are fitted and they don’t require maintenance. The bins are located on business premises, and the sensors tell recycling companies when they are full and need to be emptied. The waste is collected by Fujitsu’s recycling company, which gets audited annually.

Every piece of electronic waste that it processes is tracked all the way through the recycling process, and business customers get a certificate to confirm that sensitive data has been wiped from the equipment and that the equipment has been disposed of properly.

The smart bin consists of one normal sized wheelie bin, and a smaller bin inside with a built-in slot for smaller gadgets like mobile phones and tablets, and a larger slot for items like laptops.

Boosting awareness of the bins

Fujitsu encourage their business customers’ staff to use the bins and they provide each business with an awareness pack including posters and emails.

Smart bin successes

Communicating to business customers’ staff has been successful. One of their customers managed to collect a large number of mobile phones from its staff after releasing an internal communication about the scheme.

Fujitsu has been running trial schemes with several customers and they plant to make them a standard part of waste contracts by the end of the year.

Fujitsu also supplies IT equipment to schools and they want to extend the smart bins to a number of schools, plus local authorities, and government organisations, because they believe that it’s important for all organisations to put plans in place to deal with their e-waste to tackle the growing problem.