Less than half of our household waste gets recycled, according to government research (pdf), and the overall waste that the UK economy produces each year can be measured in hundreds of millions of tonnes.
Fortunately, there are many forward-thinking organisations that are doing something about it.
We rounded up a few very interesting technological developments that are helping the UK to save money, reduce emissions and put our waste to better .
1. The solar-powered bin
These eco-friendly bins are actually having a double effect. Using clean solar power, which avoids the carbon footprint of many other sources of energy, they’re able to detect when they’re getting too full, and crush the rubbish down to make room for more.
That means they can hold up to eight times as much as a standard bin before they need emptying, which means lower emissions and fuel costs from the less frequent waste collections.
These Big Belly Bins run on a standard 12-volt battery – kept charged by the solar panel – and are also compatible with a SIM card, sending a text or email to the collection services when they need to be emptied.
2. The biomethane bus
Earlier this year, First West of England introduced Britain’s first Bio-Bus to the streets of Bristol. Powered by biomethane gas produced from the sewage and inedible food waste of more than 32,000 households, the bus runs a 15-mile route and can seat up to 40 people.
The company hopes that this revolutionary new mode of transport will pave the way for many more waste-powered buses in the future.
‘Since its original unveiling last year, the Bio-Bus has generated worldwide attention and so it’s our great privilege to bring it to the city,’ said James Freeman, managing director of First West. ‘The very fact that it’s running in the city should help to open up a serious debate about how buses are best fuelled, and what is good for the environment.’
3. The intelligent waste collection route
Until now, static collection routes and schedules have been pretty much the only option when it comes to keeping our towns and cities clean – and they’re often highly inefficient. Overflowing containers have had to wait until their allotted day, and ones that have barely been used have been emptied regardless.
But a new solution from Enevo promises to change all that with its smart waste containers.
Using wireless sensors to detect how full each container is, their service can automatically generate the optimal routes and schedules – including traffic information, truck availability and road restrictions – to put waste collection drivers where they’re needed, when they’re needed.
The company claims they can provide up to 50% of direct cost savings, as well as reducing emissions, road and vehicle wear, and noise pollution.
4. The voltage-optimised premises
You might not know it, but the voltage that’s supplied to your home or business doesn’t always match up to the voltage used by your appliances or devices. The typical home, for example, receives electricity at 245V, but many appliances have been designed to run at lower voltages.
We’ve already installed voltage-optimisation devices into a number of homes, which reduce and maintain their voltage at 220V. And that means less wasted energy, lower costs, and improved performance and durability of the appliances that use it.
Our devices can reduce the emissions of a home by up to 4.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifetime, with an average electrical energy saving of almost 9%.
In the case of one global consultancy firm, we were able to reduce their costs by £44,000 per year, just by optimising their voltage and their boilers.
Find out how we can help you reduce your costs – and your wastage – without changing the way you run your business.
Do you think the government should be doing more to reduce our country’s waste and put it to better use? If so, let us know on LinkedIn or Google+.