Closing The Loop on Waste

Funded

City of Canterbury Bankstown

City of Canterbury Bankstown, New South Wales

Project stage

In progress

Timeframe

Start date: 11 February 2019
End date: 31 December 2020

Project value

Australian Government funding:
$1,047,455
Total:
$2,114,910

Partners

  • Western Sydney University (WSU)
  • ISF (Insititute for Sustainable Futures) - University of Technology Sydney
  • Blue Chilli

Focus area

  • City and community planning
  • Public administration and customer service
  • Other

Project type

  • Community engagement
  • Smart waste
  • Smart governance
  • Integrated mobility

Technology type

  • Data Management (Data platform, open data, data privacy and security, blockchains, standards)
  • Smartphone applications
  • Hardware
  • IT systems (interoperability)

Project summary

The City of Canterbury Bankstown is currently undertaking a large-scale smart city project in the waste management space, called Closing the Loop on Waste.

This project aims to improve our resident's experience around Council waste services enabling our 365,000 residents to have a seamless waste service experience.

This project is focused on addressing and overcoming problems in four key areas – waste operations itself, sustainability and engagement, technology, and customer experiences. 

The challenge

Currently, waste as a subject area accounts for 31 per cent of all enquiries between residents and Council’s Customer Service team, which equates to approximately 30,000 phone calls a year. This means there are 30,000 opportunities to engage with residents to help improve their experience with waste management services, whether this be improving their understanding on when waste collection days are, or why a bin may have been missed or not collected.  Contamination of recycling bins is predominantly caused by residents placing the wrong items in the bin. Council’s average contamination rate, right across the City, is 26 per cent, which is 10 per cent higher than the NSW average.

Currently, inspections of bins can only be conducted street-by-street and in a limited capacity by looking at the contents of someone’s bin from the top. By introducing cameras into our waste trucks and using advanced analytics, Council hopes to be able to undertake a more thorough examination of the contents of residents’ bins and get a big picture understanding of what people are putting into their bins right across the City. This will then present Council with a greater opportunity to engage and educate residents on placing the correct items into their bins and lead to a reduced rate of contamination. 

Solution

As a Council, we want to proactively incorporate smart thinking into the daily lives of our residents, enabling them to make smart choices around waste and the impact their decision makes on the environment. Through a multi-faceted approach, this project will seek to improve citizen understanding around bin contamination, and particularly contamination in recycling bins.

Benefits

This project is customer centric, and focuses on improving resident experiences with waste management and improving the way they provide and receive communication on waste issues. With residents at the forefront of this project’s purpose, the delivery of ‘Closing the loop’ focuses on long term sustainability. The project will deliver a profound service, seamlessly integrating itself into the fabric of everyday life, whereby residents are enabled to make informed and better decisions on their waste contribution. In ‘Closing the Loop’, this project is leading the way in transforming residential waste service delivery from beginning to end.

At the end of this project it is intended that processes and systems will be streamlined, and Council officers will have greater access to data to provide a better level of service to residents. 

Lessons learned

Though collaboration has had its challenges through COVID-19 with business as usual operations, the project team has achieved many milestones testing and trialling technologies to help ‘Close the Loop’ on waste within the community. Some challenges arising in this project have been data sharing and governance processes which have been highlighted as areas of further improvement including greater clarity of data ownership and management. A solid back-end architecture has also proved to be challenging to allow for scalability of applications as needs change.

RFID (radio frequency identification) was trialled as a potential adjunct to recently acquired GPS cameras installed in the waste fleet to make contamination identification more accurate. Not without its challenges in narrowing down the location accuracy of waste bins to their property owners, the accompanying proactive notification testing proved beneficial in alerting trial residents in a timely manner about their contamination or other waste related events in real-time. This has since been adopted in a Street Sweeping Trial where opting in and out of notifications is being used to gauge community engagement and interest in Council waste services. 

A ‘Missed Bin App’ has been developed to coincide with the GPS technology to notify drivers of missed bin jobs for collection in the field, saving time on service delivery and improving customer service reporting.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) trials determining the feasibility of detecting contamination in resident recycling bins are nearing completion with tagging and modelling thousands of images using the GPS waste truck video data. Rates of accuracy are on track to reach the expected 90% target with potential educational benefits for the Recycle Right program and the possible operational integration into waste trucks.

Visualising multiple datasets through a customised dashboard functionality has opened up more methods of communication both internally and with the community through access to real time data. Further work is being developed with a more refined UX layer to be rolled out in phases by the end of 2020.

Contact details

Name: Barbara Iordanidis
Email: Barbara.Iordanidis@cbcity.nsw.gov.au