Smart waste management can make cities more livable and sustainable. Here’s how.

By NEC Thailand

Video analytics, IoT and AI can help reduce illegal dumping, ensure regulatory compliance, and promote sustainable waste management in urban areas, particularly for developing countries like Thailand.

Smart town specialist NEC says that smart waste management tech may be key to addressing Southeast Asia's reputation for being the "destination for world's illegal waste." . Image: Canva.

Between 2017 and 2021, ASEAN countries imported over 100 million tons of waste, mostly through illicit channels.

As global organisations like the UN ring alarm bells about Southeast Asia becoming the “destination for world’s illegal waste,” countries like Thailand are increasingly turning to smart waste management technologies to curb the issue.

Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) taps on smart waste management tech to prevent illegal waste dumping and protect health of residents. Image: IEAT.

Since 2019, the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) has been using real-time monitoring and tracking capabilities to prevent illegal waste dumping and protect the health of those living in industrial estates, stated the agency’s representative in a press release.

To accelerate its mission, IEAT has partnered with ICT consultant, NEC Corporation (Thailand), to fully implement its waste transportation and monitoring system by July 2023, and has since expanded the system to 14 other estates by November 2023.

IEAT plans to eventually expand its reach to all 65 estates nationwide.

NEC Thailand’s Vice President of Business Development, Isara Koyvanich, and Business Development Professional, Patcharamon Meekaew, share that it has supported IEAT by integrating additional features that enhance IEAT’s monitoring and inspection process.

Powered by a mix of surveillance, big data, AI and data centre technologies, these features provide immediate alerts to relevant parties and automatically generate reports on whether the disposal process complied with local and international standards, they explain.

Streamlining waste operations

From origin to its final disposal, smart waste management deploys real-time monitoring systems, fleet management technologies, and data analytics to streamline waste operations, says Koyvanich.

In Thailand, these technologies enable closer monitoring of waste, which has helped the country to reduce waste pollution and soil contamination – thereby meeting its national sustainability targets.

Additionally, better route planning has helped lower transport costs and fuel consumption, they add.

Route planning tech uses GPS to monitor the transport of waste from origin to destination, and alerts the command centre of any abnormalities that occur during the transportation to ensure that they go to the designated places.

Smart waste management tech align with the principles of the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economic model promoted by the Thai government.​ Image: NEC Thailand.

IEAT currently uses NEC’s real-time waste transportation monitoring system to improve the efficiency of its industrial waste movement tracking from the waste generator to the treatment plant.

“By integrating our advanced solutions, we significantly reduce the incidence of illegal industrial waste dumping and ensure proper way of waste treatment process.

“This aligns with the principles of the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economy and progressing towards carbon neutrality for global environmental sustainability,” explains Ichiro Kurihara, President of NEC Corporation (Thailand).

The BCG economy has been promoted by the Thai government as an economic model for inclusive and sustainable growth

Another example is document management technologies, which can help ensure compliance with regulations and reduce the incidence of illegal dumping, particularly in developing countries like Thailand.

Integrate waste management systems with smart city tech

Not only does tech improve the efficiency and accuracy of waste handling, tech helps integrate different waste management and recycling systems into the broader urban framework, says Koyvanich.

This can support sustainable growth and improve quality of life amongst residents.

Using the example of route planning tech like GPS and RFID, Koyvanich and Meekaew explain that smart waste management not only addresses operational challenges, but helps make cities cleaner, healthier and more livable.

Smart waste management not only addresses operational challenges, but helps make cities cleaner, healthier and more livable, says NEC Thailand's Isara Koyvanich, and Patcharamon Meekaew. Image: Canva.

“By optimising waste collection routes and ensuring that industrial waste is properly treated without leaks or illegal dumping in residential areas, we minimise fuel consumption and emissions, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of urban waste management.

“Additionally, technologies such as telemetric systems ensure accurate waste tracking and weigh-in-motion systems monitor industrial waste weight, promoting recycling and waste reduction efforts.”

This aligns with broader environmental goals such as resource conservation and pollution reduction, which are essential for sustainable urban development, they say.

GovInsider earlier covered how the Indian city, Nagpur, uses technology to reduce its solid waste and segregate the waste as a part of an electricity generation project.

Multifaceted challenges in Southeast Asia

The challenges around waste management in Southeast Asia remain multifaceted, says Isara.

These challenges range from a lack of infrastructure for waste management, weak enforcement of regulations, lack of public awareness and education, financial constraints, and lack of technical expertise, he adds.

NEC supports governments raise public participation through tools, such as a municipal app and energy usage information for consumers, that can empower residents to be part of the national effort to streamline waste management.

The firm can integrate these capabilities in a user-friendly app for citizens to report issues in town, including overflowing garbage bins, as well as deliver the feedback to the right agencies to respond in a timely manner.

As for energy usage information, NEC previously worked with town and city authorities to create web portals to keep the public informed of energy supply in the market. This can raise public awareness on energy-saving practices.

With 60 years of experience in Southeast Asia, NEC capabilities span different sectors and technologies, including biometrics and digital IDs, waste management, smart traffic control and more.