Telefonica Tech and Ecoembes unveil the bin of the future

Digital transformation firm Telefonica Tech and environmental organisation Ecoembes have teamed up to produce a series of 5G enabled ‘smart bins’ in Spain.

This project has seen 16 containers deployed in Sant Boi de Llobregat, Barcelona.

The ‘smart yellow bins’ identify what trash is being deposited into them via a barcode reader ring, and that information is transmitted to a data analysis centre via 5G narrow band connectivity, supplied by Telefonica Tech.

What do they expect to do with this data? According to the press release: “Obtain the traceability of the containers deposited, which allows the collection of relevant data such as what type of waste has been deposited, in what area, at what time or frequency of use.”

Perhaps more interesting than a literal map of rubbish is the blockchain based ‘social rewards’ scheme set up alongside the hardware. This project aims to reward citizens for recycling as part of something called the RECICLOS Return and Reward System.

These rewards apparently take the form of “Social and environmental incentives” – whatever that might mean.

According to the press release: “The project includes a part that rewards citizens who can identify themselves, if they have previously logged in to the webapp, and by achieving a series of points (tokens) when recycling, which can then be exchanged for environmental incentives or donated to social causes. If you decide to recycle anonymously, the tokens you earn are not lost, but are added to a generic account that can also be donated to social associations. This entire process is certified through blockchain technology.”

When measured against the scale of climate change, often described by environmentalists and politicians as nothing short of a very soon to arrive apocalypse, it doesn’t feel like 16 souped-up bins in Barcelona is going to offer a massive reprieve, though Ecoembes does have the ‘ambition’ to take them to more municipalities in Spain.

To be more positive what this does represent is, for what it’s worth, a tangible thing to point to when the tech industry and government types effuse on the brave new world of 5G and IoT enabled smart cities – discussions of which have a tendency to become extremely nebulous whenever anyone follows up for some specifics.

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