Collect Waste More Efficiently

Waste collection is time-consuming and requires a lot of staff members to regularly check on receptacles that may or may not be full. To streamline this process, the city of Pittsburgh deployed "smart" trash cans throughout the city. These cans feature wireless sensors that can monitor fill level, weight, location and more in order to maximize efficiency.

Q: Why should we consider "smart" waste collection?

A: With "smart" receptacles, wireless sensors help you manage waste, allowing maintenance staff to know exactly when each container needs to be emptied.

In Pittsburgh, for example, the system determines which cans need to be emptied, and creates an optimized route to those containers, delivering the added benefit of fuel savings. These optimized routes also mean employees will be touching far fewer public surfaces, protecting their health and safety.

Based on an analysis from Pittsburgh, the Department of Public Works could reduce labor hours spent on emptying garbage cans by at least half. As a result, the number of employees needed to empty receptacles around the city fell from 25 to just nine, freeing up labor for other important tasks, such as cleaning out catch basins and pruning trees.

"The smart cans allow DPW to offer better refuse services to Pittsburgh residents and neighborhood business districts, while freeing up our workers to do other work to keep the city tidy," said Mike Gable, public works director for the City of Pittsburgh.

Q: We're interested in reaping the benefits of "smart" waste collection, but we're not sure how to get started. What should we know?

A: Think about starting small with targeted deployments in a specific area. The City of Pittsburgh started out with 95 of the smart receptacles in 2015. Once the city saw how much time and effort it could save, it began a staggered rollout of additional smart cans, and had deployed 1,200 of the receptacles as of June 2019.



Victor Stanley