Surging population growth in cities is not only challenging city leaders to find better ways to deliver transportation, energy, public safety and other municipal services, it’s also forcing them to deal with more garbage. The good news is that smart solutions are emerging in the solid waste management arena. Technologies are coming to market that can help cities collect and process waste more efficiently and recover valuable materials from the waste steam. In this chapter we examine how smart technologies are enabling cities to manage municipal solid waste (MSW) in an efficient and sustainable manner. As in other city responsibility areas, information and communications technologies (ICT) are driving many of these new solutions, particularly in the area of garbage collection. But scaled-up applications in the realm of biological and industrial engineering are also involved.
When the city of Ballarat in New South Wales, Australia was chosen as one of 16 IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant recipients in 2014, it had access to five of IBM’s top experts, who spent three weeks living there and immersed in the city to analyse and advise on its waste management strategy.