Smart Solutions

Smart Waste Management

Electronic monitoring of residual waste collection and the level of recycling using digital and technological innovation.

Implemented inKošeca

Country : Slovakia

What’s the solution?

A smart data monitoring system (digital tracing system) encourages waste separation and incentivises recycling by reducing waste-collection fees.

Stickers with unique QR codes are used for recycling bags, whilst waste bins are fitted with an electronic chip, which is scanned by refuse collectors using a smart watch during waste collection.

In this way, the  municipal office keeps track of the amount of waste produced by every household and business entity, and the level of recycling and offers scaled reductions on local waste management bills per person according to the proportion of household waste recycled.

What makes it smart?

The solution is smart because

  • The solution uses the latest technologies - combining high-quality hardware equipment and specialist software - to allow simple registration, clear processing and monitoring of the collected information on waste and recycling.
  • The system can be tailored to address specific municipality needs in respect of waste management based on rapid feasibility assessment.
  • It supports improved economic and environmental performance of the local waste management system, offering savings which benefit both the local authority and individual households as well as reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.
  • The solution also uses information and outreach to engage the community and, in particular schools and schoolchildren in improving waste management practices in local homes.

How is the solution implemented?

  • Commission an expert to conduct a feasibility study (not essential but useful)
  • Purchase/install appropriate hardware and software needed for electronic tracking, and monitoring of residual waste and recycling
  • Establish a set of financial incentives for households to recycle more.
  • Train local refuse collectors and officials in monitoring the waste and analysing the collected data
  • Conduct an information campaign engaging the local press and local schools to raise awareness of the scheme
  • Pilot the scheme in one area/neighbourhood to identify unexpected challenges (not key implementation step but helpful before full roll out)
  • Roll out the scheme across the whole community
  • Through continuous monitoring, use the data to change household’s waste management bills.

In what local context has it been applied?

Košeca is a village located in the Trenčín Region of north-western Slovakia. It is an ‘entry point’ to the Strážov mountain range, part of Inner Western Carpathians, and of the Fatra-Tatra mountain area lying at an altitude of 255 metres. Košeca municipality covers an area of nearly 19 km².

The village has good transport connections via road and rail and is situated only 2km from the main town of the district (Ilava). Koseca has a number of very active associations and clubs and a variety of festivals and events are organised throughout the year.

Waste management has been an area of increasing interest for the municipality, which, until 2008, had no no recycling scheme and no financial incentives to motivate citizens to manage their waste more sustainably. At that time, 45% of residual household waste was collected in large containers/skips, costing Sk 2,069,000 (€68,700 per year) with income from fees covering only 50% of the cost.

Who was behind the implementation?

  • Municipal office, initiative of the local mayor
  • A specialist in municipal waste management [employee at the municipal office].
  • A private company was engaged to provide and install the electronic system used.

What was the local journey?

  • Since 2008, the municipal office in Košeca has been continuously trying to motivate its inhabitants to be more waste conscious.
  • The first step forward was taken with the start of collections of recyclable items and the opening of a recycling centre in the village with support from EU funds .
  • With these changes, the waste collection cycle was reduced from once per week to once per fortnight.
  • In 2009, waste management fees were changed to incentivise more recycling and waste separation – charging only 13 €/person/year for those doing this compared to double that for others.
  • In 2010, a further 20% discount per person was offered for those home composting.
  • In 2016, the municipality hired a municipal waste management specialist to oversee further changes following a change in the national legislation regarding waste management including responsibilities of local municipalities.
  • However, real change only came after the introduction of an electronic waste monitoring system (called ELWIS) in 2019. This started with the engagement of a private company to carry out an initial consultation and feasibility study.
  • The private company then installed a digital tracking system, involving equipment for marking containers or bags (installation of sensing devices, RFID chips and QR codes), and recording devices to scan bags on collection and transfer the data to be saved.
  • This electronic waste tracking system was first piloted in a part of the village called Nozdrovice in 2019, prior to rolling it out across the entire community in 2020.
  • The electronic waste management system has thus been a result of a long systematic journey to reduce residual waste, encourage recycling and incentivise citizens for doing so.
  • The village is collecting plastic, metal, paper, glass and tetra packs. In addition, it runs its own compositing site, so people can bring their green waste there.
  • The municipal office issues smart watches on the day to workers involved in refuse collection, in order for them to scan the RDIF chips on the waste bins.
  • Data is thus collected on the waste generated by each household for each type of waste, including recyclable materials, composting and residual waste. Thanks to this, the local authority is able to offer fees based on the amount of  residual waste collected and level of recycling. The authority uses a sliding scale which goes from a 0% decrease in fees for households recycling 15% or less of their waste up to a 55% reduction for those recycling more than 90% of their household waste.
  • Implementation of the system was accompanied by training activities with the refuse collection team on using the system and with the local authority on understanding and using the data collected.
  • An additional action was a related information campaign focused on the local community but with a strong emphasis on working with local schools to increase awareness of the importance and practicalities of sorting waste and recycling.

What have been the main outputs & results?

  • People pay only for the waste they produce, the less residual waste they produce the lower their annual payment creating importance incentives for improved household waste management.
  • From 2018 to 2020, the level of residual waste collected decreased by more than 20%, decreasing the amount of residual waste going to landfill and reducing the costs of residual waste collection
  • At the same, the amount (by weigh)t of separated paper waste collected increased by nearly 5%.
  • The amount of separated plastic waste increased by over 30%.
  • The amount of separated glass waste increased by nearly 17%.
  • The amount of separated metal waste (food and drink cans) increased by more than 30%.
  • The village won The Innovation in Politics Awards 2020 with its project entitled No Data Waste in Košeca under the category Digitalisation. This triggered a wide [national] media interest and the village became an example of good practice, inspiring many other Slovakian municipalities to follow their example.

What does it bring the village/community?

  • The solution increases the quality of local waste management services, making the village a more attractive place to live and work.
  • It reduces the costs of waste management for the municipality freeing up resources that can be used for other local services or reducing local taxes.
  • The successful demonstration of this Internet of Things technology in the context of waste management also offers the potential to encourage improvements in other municipal services using similar approaches.
  • The solution reduces costs for households, potentially increasing their disposable income.
  • The initiative serves to increase overall environmental awareness within the community, encouraging further actions to reduce local environmental impact.

What’s needed

Financial resources

Main types of cost:
Financial needs:

Set up / Investment costs: EUR 11,000

Main costs are to:

• Carry out the feasibility study

• Install the digital tracking system

• Scanners to record the waste collected

• Servers to store and process the collected data

Ongoing costs: EUR 3,000 per year for system servicing, QR code labels, chip, plastic bags for recycling, etc.

Funding received:
Funded from municipal budget, own financial resources11,000 €E-waste system implementation [ELWIS] purchase of relevant technical devices and equipment, campaign to inform citizens and training for local coordinator

Human resources

• Local coordinator in the municipal authority

• External expertise (private company) in the hardware and software involved

• Refuse collectors - approx. 5 FTE involved

Physical resources

• A local waste management system including a recycling centre

• RFID chips, QR codes labels for waste collection bags.

• Scanning equipment

What to do…

  • Carry out a feasibility study if possible.
  • Set up a pilot area to test the system prior to full roll out if possible (important in case of large village or disperse settlement).
  • Local media campaign to explain the advantages and the way the system operates to citizens.
  • Involve local schools and child care centres.
  • Provide financial incentives for households to recycle more.

and not to do

  • Don’t motivate local people through punishments, but through positive incentives.

Funded by