A Singapore press holdings portal

Science And Tech

Trash tech

The Straits Times | Samantha Boh | Tuesday, Feb 9, 2016

Madam Jamaliyah wheeling a normal bin away from the smart bin, which has a compactor and can store up to eight times more rubbish than a normal bin of the same size.

Photo: The Straits Times

Cleaners at Hong Kah North Community Club (CC) in Bukit Batok will be making fewer trips to the bin - thanks to two "smart" ones that are being tried out.

These bins, which come with a trash compactor, can store up to eight times more rubbish than a normal bin of the same size.

They are also equipped with sensors that detect how full the bin is. A flashing icon of green, yellow or red at the front of the bin indicates whether it is mostly empty, half full or filled to the brim.

Hourly updates on how empty or full the bins are can be sent wirelessly via e-mail or SMS to the cleaners' own smartphones.

Together, the features will allow for more efficient cleaning schedules, said Mr Christopher Lopez, managing director of Otto Waste Systems, the importer of the bins from South Korea.

With real-time information on how full the bins are, cleaners can work more efficiently.

Madam Jamaliyah Daud, 47, a cleaner at the CC, said she does not need to check the bins as often now: "I used to check the bins three or four times a day. Now I can just look at the lights on the outside."

Madam Jamaliyah does not carry a smartphone but said staff at the CC's head office will inform her when they receive an SMS or e-mail alert that the bin is full.

Mr Lopez said cleaners cannot possibly keep watch over the bins all the time or know how much rubbish is being thrown into each bin.

"With this bin, they are informed ahead of time and can plan their schedules accordingly," he said.

The bins have been at the CC since December as part of a trial, at no extra cost to the CC.

Dr Amy Khor, the MP for Hong Kah North, said the bins will help cleaners who often have to pick up litter strewn around bins.

"They will save time and improve productivity since the bins can hold more rubbish due to the compaction. (And) the cleaners only need to clear the rubbish when they are alerted that the bins are full."

Such bins were tested at Changi Airport Terminal 3 and the Sports Hub in trials that ended last month and late last year, respectively.

Otto Waste Systems is in discussions to test them out elsewhere.

But these bins are not cheap. A 120-litre smart bin will cost from $3,500, while a normal bin of the same size costs $120 to $130.

The bins have also been used in places like South Korea and Europe. They can run on solar energy when placed in direct sunlight.

Their high price is the main obstacle to bringing them into the local market so far, said Mr Lopez.

He noted, however, that the bin can have LED displays on its sides and these can be sold as spaces for advertisements.

Bukit Batok resident Fasral Samad, 41, thinks the bins are too expensive but said they could be viable in the long run if they last for many years. "Most of the cleaners here are old so I think it's good that they don't need to walk up and down to check the bins as often," said the part-time accountant.

Madam Mary A., 54, another resident, felt the higher costs could be funded through savings in manpower costs. What is more important, she said, is that such bins can put a lid on the problem of overflowing rubbish.

"That attracts birds and insects and is very unhygienic. I will be very happy if these bins can put an end to that," said Madam Mary, who is unemployed.


This article was first published on February 08, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.

No comments yet.
Be the first to post comment.