Italian Garbage Technology Could Help Save the Environment

Dennis Faas's picture

When people envision the Italian landscape, images of ancient architecture, paintings and sculptures abound. Imagining old-world Italian cities as havens for hi-tech innovations is difficult for many. But located in the main piazza of Duino-Aurisina is a trash bin like no other; one that could potentially alter our approach to garbage collection here in North America while improving pollution and traffic controls around the world.

The communal bin contains a small metal box about the size of a one-quart milk carton. A radio connection lies beneath the box, allowing the bin to "communicate" with oncoming garbage trucks. A SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card then relays data back to a control center. (Source:

But what does the box do?

The small metal box (called MSD-112) provides information on how full the bins are and what they contain. When a garbage truck approaches at a distance of 330 ft. (or 100 meters) an LCD screen in front of the driver displays the amount of garbage in the bins. It is then up to the discretion of the driver whether to stop or keep on driving to the next bin.

What about the SIM card?

The SIM card is used to relay the information to a central computer center to create the most efficient path possible for the garbage trucks to reach only the full bins. Analysts predict that in a city with 200,000 inhabitants, over 200,000 liters of garbage and 53,000 gallons of gasoline could be saved every year simply by switching to the MSD-112 device. (Source:

Before the introduction of MSD-112 devices, Duino-Aurisina waste management workers emptied all of the bins every day! Not only were most of these bins less than half-full, but the trucks were blocking traffic and creating all sorts of unnecessary pollution.

The new system, including the SIM card efficient paths, will guarantee that the traffic and pollution levels of the city are now controlled.

Those cities interested in acquiring the system used in Duino-Aurisina will be happy to learn that the MSD-112 devices cost only €100, or $140 USD each. The prices are sure to fall if the devices are well-received and subsequently mass-produced at a later date.

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