Making Waste Safer, Less Expensive and More Useful

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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.

“Waste management is a key priority for the city and we want to lead the way in developing best practice approaches that can be shared with other councils and communities,” said Ballarat Mayor John Philips. “We want to empower our community to take action now to ensure our waste management capabilities are both more efficient and more sustainable, as well as explore how we can get more economic value from waste as a resource stream.”

What Ballarat heard from the experts sent by Council member IBM was that technology can play a role in making the disposal and recycling of municipal waste more predictable, efficient and safer for the environment. The proper management of waste can even lead to the creation of jobs and new industry.

Among the key recommendations for Ballarat were: 

  • Utilize modern sorting methods to enhance resource recovery and reduce waste to landfill
  • Explore waste-to-energy options that maximize landfill diversion
  • Work with the state government to improve the attractiveness of waste-to-energy investments
  • Employ a digital waste information system to increase understanding and support waste management process optimization

Develop an integrated communications plan emphasising landfill costs and lifespan concerns, and prepare the community for any waste management policy.

Employ a digital waste information system to increase understanding and support waste management process optimisation.