The New China Syndrome

In March 1979, ‘The China Syndrome‘ movie chillingly told the story of an unfolding nuclear power disaster. Incredibly, twelve days after the film’s premiere, there was a partial meltdown of a nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island.

Forty years on, we now have a new ‘China Syndrome’, which is also about an issue we don’t talk about much – what we throw away.

For years and years, we have been told to put recycled plastics and glass into the yellow recycled bins, and green waste into the green bins, and general waste into the red ones. Or some such variation of this theme.

Most of us assume that, having done the right thing, the recycled materials are recycled.

Turns out this is not the case. Less than half of recycled materials are recycled, mainly due to contamination (dirty fast food materials or ketchup bottles).

This issue has become worse, because not only is more material going to landfill, costing local councils ten times more than it should, China has famously refused to take our recycled materials unless they are less than 0.5% contaminated.

Perhaps this is an impending crisis that needed to happen.

We – as a society – needed to get real about recycling. We couldn’t just continue to ship our problem offshore. We needed to come up with a solution to actually recycle our recycling, and educate the community in how to do it.

A sensor for your bin… makes sense

And this is where the idea for BinSense was born.

BinSense technology can ‘smell’ whether recycling materials are contaminated from an innovative sensor added to the bin… hence the name ‘BinSense’. It’s a sensor for your bin that makes total sense.

Using this technology, councils (and larger commercial operations) can detect which recycled bins are contaminated, and which aren’t; not by taking photos as the bins are lifted onto the truck – that’s too late – but as the trucks are driving around the streets.

A platform allows headquarters to see the situation. Home owners and occupants will be able to educate themselves on clean recycling, improving the proportion of materials that are recycled, reducing costs for the councils, lowering landfill and solving the new China syndrome.

Plus, it’s great for the planet.


PHOTO: Landfill by Leonid Danilov from Pexels

More Reading:

The Smelly Community Bin, NO MORE!

“Ever walked past a smelly bin at the park or the beach?”

With the introduction of the BinSense smart bin sensor, soon could be the end of the smelly public bin. At some point in time, most of us have been down at the beach on a hot summers day and had our breath taken away by the stench of a fish rotting away in a rubbish bin.

BinSense have created an innovative sensor that is able to detect smells like a smell-o-vision, it can detect anything that is able to decompose and is able to detect the strength of stench coming from the waste in a bin.

The smart bin sensor can then alert the local council of the increased smell coming from the bins contents which signals that the bin requires emptying, gone are the days of the smelly bin.

Smart Waste for Smart Councils?

The waste and recycling industry has been one of the last to hold out against the wave of tech disruption that has transformed other sectors with substantial debate over the role of technology in meeting sustainable development goals.  But the dam has now broken, and long-established waste management players are scrambling to keep up with a new generation of start-ups and innovators who are using automation and smart technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning to transform the industry.

What is a Smart Waste City?

An Intelligent Waste Series by Solar Bins has defined it beautifully: “A Smart Cities mandate is to start with the perspective of the users of the city or customers of the city – the residents, rate payers, students, workers, visitors, business owners – by saying, ‘what can smart cities do to improve the livability, prosperity and sustainability of our city for them?’” A Smart Waste City asks, not only how can we make it easier to dispose of waste, but what is the best was to collect it monitor it and process it. They ask, how can that waste be transferred to exactly the right company at exactly the right time, to process it, in the most sustainable, closed loop way, rather than sending to land fill. They ask, how can count waste in real time. 24/7.

The role of IOT in waste collection and recovery

Waste generation is a concern for modern societies due to both the service cost of waste collection, and the environmental issues of landfills. As we experience new emerging infrastructure and capabilities offered by the Internet of Things (IoT) , there have been many promising solutions arising in Australia for handling waste collection and recovery operations.

Smart bins

Australian companies are world leaders in the development of IoT waste management technologies such as smart bins, which can report how full they are, and fill-level sensors that can be fitted to existing ‘dumb’ bins.

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