Municipal waste management programs

I am personally very much interested in the subject of more efficient waste management solutions. So much so that I came up with a list of suggestions of programs and actions that municipalities around the world can consider and implement or adjust to their locality.


Smart solutions with the help of sensor technology can help municipalities know how much and what type of waste they dispose of at any given moment. With the help of good software solutions, municipalities can save time, cost, and fuel.

Systems can be developed and set up to track and collect data on most waste materials: general waste, recyclables (glass, paper, cardboard, plastic, cans), and clothing.

A good software solution offers:

  • Waste tracking

Sensors and software enable real-time online access to data related to monitored containers or containers. Ultrasonic technology measures the level of filling (along with other data) in the containers several times a day, which enables data-based decision-making and optimization of waste collection routes, frequency, and vehicle load.

  • Planning of waste collection routes

Smart waste management solutions enable the automation of the management of waste collection routes, based on precise predefined data on waste collection vehicles and landfills. The goal is to plan each individual waste collection route in order to maximize the use of resources (fleet, people, time) and reduce the costs required to perform the work.

  • Digitization of waste management

Facilitated transport planning, data collection, and waste monitoring with modern tools


Website inspired by

Recyclebank combines education, incentives, technology, and community engagement to encourage more than 4 million members to adopt better shopping and disposal habits. By taking green actions and registering online, residents can earn points for rewards (subscriptions, discounts, donations).


Research conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that textile waste increased from 1.76 million tonnes in 1960 to 16 million tonnes in 2015, a rise of 811 percent (Source: Ecotextile News). It can take 200+ years for the materials to decompose in a landfill. During the decomposition process, textiles generate greenhouse methane gas and leach toxic chemicals and dyes into the groundwater and our soil. That’s why it’s important for citizens to have an opportunity to dispose of their textile waste in textile containers. A municipality can partner up with a nonprofit organization that collects textiles and gives the still usable textile to second-hand shops, other nonprofits working with people in need of clothes, or nonprofits that employ underrepresented and marginalized groups where they reuse and recycle textiles by making bags and other products. One such Croatian nonprofit is HUMANANOVA, FABSCRAP, CLOTHES TO GOOD, and other initiatives and programs across the European Union.

Infographic: Textile Waste in EU by European Environment Agency


The most famous European waste-to-energy (WTE) power plant is Vienna’s Spittelau waste incineration plant which processes around 250,000 tonnes of household waste every year to produce green heating and electricity. For smaller municipalities, small-scale biomass and waste gasification plants have the potential to increase energy autonomy in rural and isolated communities, and the country as a whole, while reducing carbon emissions.

Spittelau Power Plant


3D Print Dalmatia Innovation Center

With the example of Maritimo Recycling, a Dubrovnik association, it is possible to establish a Center for recycling marine and other plastic waste as part of the 3D Print innovation center. Maritimo Recycling received EU funding for the purchase of more serious semi-industrial plastic recycling machines. Their goal is to produce nautical equipment such as fishing lures, jewelry, souvenirs, and the like.

As part of the 3D Print innovation center, the municipality could offer the following services and activities:

  • 3D Print factory and laser cutting of metal, plastic, ceramics, wood, and glasses

● Production of pellets from municipal waste with the help of a pellet press

● Repair and sale of used furniture

● Courses and workshops


Thanks to the research and groundbreaking discovery of chemist James Tour and his team at Rice University it is now possible to make much-valued graphene out of solid waste materials including food waste, polymer or plastic products, forest residues, municipal waste, and biological waste. Typically, graphene costs $200,000 per ton and is incredibly useful for a wide range of applications in transport, medicine, electronics, energy, defense, desalination, and more. Until now, it’s been very difficult and expensive to make graphene but the new technique cuts down on the cost and difficulty by flash heating any carbon-based material, such as used coffee grounds or plastic waste. Imagine funding community projects with waste that turns into graphene!


The main goal of the municipalities should not be only to cut down on municipal waste and its adequate disposal. An additional or secondary goal of efficient municipal waste management programs should be additional income that successful waste management programs can generate. With this additional income, municipalities can fund other community activities and programs such as programs for senior citizens, youth programs, infrastructural projects, etc.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *