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Estonia planning a country-wide digital system to monitor waste management

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Truly smart cities deal with everything, even their waste, in a smart way. Plans are being drawn for a fully digital real-time waste management system to cover the whole of Estonia.

Estonia is planning to be the first country in the world with a fully digital real-time monitoring system for waste management which will also help assess people’s garbage sorting behaviour.

The new system will help reduce people’s fears that their carefully sorted garbage is not being taken to the right place. The data will help create new business models of waste management and for companies to better plan their own activities.

As data will be received in real-time, it will be possible to quickly see where problems occur and then fix them. The new system will also be more transparent for the public.

Digitalising the waste movement

Undersecretary of the Ministry of the Environment Kaupo Heinma outlined the plans to ERR.

“When a garbage truck arrives, the movement of waste will be automatically sent to the system, similar to a courier’s movement with a parcel – what went where and when. Similar to how the Marine Traffic app can track the movement of ships and Flight Radar the flights of aircraft. The aim is to digitalise the waste movement as a whole,” he said.

55% of municipal waste to be recycled by 2025

Estonia’s goal is to recycle 55 percent of municipal waste by 2025 and Heinma hopes the waste management system will be digital by then. The first step is to add GPS trackers to garbage trucks to see exactly where garbage is taken and how much.

“We will not only make changes to the law with new, stricter requirements, but we will also make a turnaround in green management,” Heinma said.

Being small helps making big changes easier

The plans will also clearly define what should be done by national and local governments. People’s recycling habits could also be monitored and they could be penalised or incentivised to do more.

“These solutions exist individually in other countries. But Estonia can make this big change because Estonia is so small. It would add a lot to the transparency of waste management and show that it is not a dark place where no one knows what is going on,” Heinma said.

The original article was published on ERR News and a longer Estonian version of it on ERR Uudised.

 

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