Citizens of the United Arab Emirates receive free healthcare and education, and enjoy subsidized water, electricity and fuel. Men can claim free land and no-interest building loans; couples get cash towards their wedding expenses. And next January, lucky residents in two Abu Dhabi neighborhoods will get high-tech trash bins.
The bins are actually owned by the municipality’s waste contractors, who will introduce the new technology in two pilot areas. The challenge will be getting everyone to place the trash inside the “intelligent” garbage cans.
Each bin is electronically chipped with its geographic and technical details. Garbage trucks will be fitted with a device that can read the bin data, and link to a central monitoring station which records collection times and alerts management when the units need washing. Compared to the electronic monitoring of private communications recently exposed in the USA, this data collection is minor; but unlike the US surveillance, this one the public welcomes.
The monitoring station can quickly determine the last pick-up and check if collections were missed, according to Dr. Salem Al Ka’abi, acting general manager, Center of Waste Management.
The pilot is aimed at squashing persistent complaints about inconsistent pick-up (residents making a stink about uncollected trash will receive quicker municipal attention), and better serving the emirate’s overarching waste-to-energy ambitions.
Green Prophet recently reported on Abu Dhabi’s plans for an $850 million incinerator plant which will convert municipal trash into green fuel. Trash collection becomes a critical link in the waste-to-energy chain as the plant must be fed a constant stream of non-recyclable garbage.
Abu Dhabi produces an estimated million metric tons of (non-recyclable) municipal solid waste (MSW) annually, which can produce 100 megawatts of energy, the same amount of power as the world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant, Shams which also opened in March in Abu Dhabi.
Image of existing Abu Dhabi trash bins from Gulf News