Smart Bins & Level Sensors: Case Studies

Korea's popular tourist attraction: Bukchon Traditional Village

Smart bins and level sensors at Bukchon Traditional Village
Problem

Problem

  • High waste generation in Bukchon area
  • Various sizes and shapes of garbage bins
Solution

Solution

  • The Clean CAPs installed to measure the fill-level
  • Customized mounting brackets according to different bin shapes
Results

Results

  • Smart data driven fill-level information that enables prompt responses
  • Elimination of garbage overflow
  • Installation of the Clean CAPs on diverse types of bins

Before, we didn't know when the trash bins in Bukchon became full. Now, we know in real-time the fill-level of each bin thanks to Ecube Labs' solution. Since we're able to quickly take action before any problem occurs, there are no longer any issues with garbage overflow.

Bukchon Traditional Village is a popular tourist attraction for its rich history in Seoul. It is home to hundreds of traditional houses dating back to the early 1900s, serving as cultural centers, restaurants and tea houses. In the midst, there are also modern cafes that draw both the young and old generations along with continued increase of tourists to the area. But at the heart of the community, Bukchon still functions as a residential area. The influx of tourists, both domestic and international have directly led to increase in resident complaints. The main issue stems from the amount of waste generation creating overflow. The residents’ discontent has continued to escalate without much resolution.

In order to solve this problem, City of Seoul has engaged Ecube Labs to install the Clean CAPs in the area. Because the trash fill speed varies depending on the location and the type of waste, installing level sensors in only trouble spots would partly remedy the waste problem. Taking a holistic approach, Seoul requested the Clean CAPs to be installed on every trash bin. This would enable the staff members to make smart data-driven decisions while managing individual bins for collections.

The Clean CAP is an attachable ultrasonic level sensor that measures the amount of trash in real-time. It can be attached to existing receptacles/containers to detect any type of trash. For instance in Bukchon, the Clean CAPs were installed on 3 different types garbage bins. "Although we, at first, were worried whether the level sensors would be able to be attached to all of the bins because of their various shapes, installing them was much easier than expected," said an official in Seoul Metropolitan Government's Waste Division.

The installation introduced a whole new level of waste collection efficiency. The collection staff can go out to the field knowing which locations to visit ahead of time. As a result, number of unnecessary collection trips has reduced. This is possible through the utilization of the Clean City Networks (CCN) that provides an optimized collection route. The collection cost went down by 43%.

The cost reduction benefit aside, the deployment of the level sensors consequently led to immediate positive feedback from local residents’ regarding their satisfaction level because of the dramatic decrease in the amount of garbage on the streets. As a major tourist attraction, they proudly showcase their heritage without worrying about trash as a backdrop. Local citizens and tourists alike can enjoy a more sustainable and cleaner environment for years on end.

Noticing Ecube Labs' smart waste management and logistics solution's positive impact on residents, tourists, and the waste division staff, Seoul has decided to expand the deployment area of the Clean CAP. The next pilot is expected to take place in Hongdae, an arts and music district, for additional 100 trash cans.

Smart bins with level sensors at Bukchon Traditional Village

Smart bins with level sensors at Bukchon Traditional Village

City of Seoul

Smart bins in a smart city
Problem

Problem

  • Insufficient public waste bins
  • Littering due to overflowing waste bins
Solution

Solution

  • Installation of Clean Cubes for general waste and recyclables in the city center
  • Real-time monitoring with Clean City Networks
Results

Results

  • 66% reduction in collection frequency
  • Reduced waste collection costs by 83%
  • Increased recycling diversion rate to 46%

Unlike the traditional way of collecting general waste and recycling materials, the new way of managing our bins using Ecube Labs' monitoring system not only reduced our collection costs by 83% but also eliminated waste overflow as well.

Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, is the world's second largest metropolitan area by population. As a rising global city, it is home to more than half of South Koreans and 632,000 international residents. Seoul boasts five UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as numerous shopping centers and cultural attractions which draw a lot of international tourists.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government came to Ecube Labs because they had a problem with frequent waste collection and waste overflow. With an inadequate number of public waste bins and with four to five daily waste collections proving to be insufficient, they had a serious problem on their hands. Furthermore, because the waste collection planners did not know how full or how quickly the bins became full, Seoul’s waste collection staff had to deal with plastic bottles and paper cups that continuously piled up on top of recycling bins.

With the main goal of improving the cityscape by making streets cleaner and reducing waste collection costs, Seoul municipality decided to install 85 Clean Cube smart bins in 2014 for general waste and recyclables in particularly crowded areas of the city center. The managers of the Public Cleanliness Department utilized Clean City Networks (CCN) to monitor the status and fill-level of Clean Cubes and observe the collection effciency throughout Seoul.

Within just three months of using Ecube Labs’ solutions, the city was able to see huge improvements in public sanitation. Since installing the Clean Cubes, waste overflow was eliminated and there was a significant reduction of litter on the streets. Through the status and fill-level information provided by CCN, the waste collection team was able to organize efficient collection schedules and collect recycling bins before bottles and cups began piling up on top of the bins.

Ecube Labs’ smart waste management solution is contributing to making the city cleaner and more pleasant for both residents and tourists.

Smart bins in Seoul

Four university campuses in Seoul

Smart bins in university environment
Problem

Problem

  • High weekly collection frequency
  • Waste bins placed across large campuses
Solution

Solution

  • Installation of 144 Clean Cubes across four university campuse: Seoul National University, Yonsei University, Korea University, and Dongguk University
  • Real-time monitoring with Clean City Networks
Results

Results

  • Weekly waste collections reduced from 12 to fewer than 2
  • Increased recycling diversion rate to 54%

Ecube Labs' solutions have been a great success. Significant cost reductions, cleaner public spaces, and it also increased our recycling diversion rates by over 300%.

Bureau of Facilities Management, Seoul National University

By installing just 144 of the waste compacting Clean Cubes, we managed to replace over 400 traditional bins. Waste collection costs have went down by 86% and public areas are cleaner than ever.

The waste collection workers find using the monitoring system to be convenient, and it allows them to provide better service much more efficiently. Everyone wins!

Cleaning up campuses the green and smart way. The top four universities in Korea: Seoul National University, Korea University, Yonsei University, and Dongguk University wanted a solution that would allow them to keep campuses clean while keeping costs down. Traditional bins often faced the overflow of waste, which led to more littering across campuses. They couldn't afford to increase the frequency of waste collection.

The universities came to Ecube Labs because the waste compaction that the Clean Cube provided using solar energy allowed it to increase bin capacity by six to eight times. This meant that even with less bins, waste overflow can be prevented, leading to cleaner campuses for both students and visitors.

Additionally, Clean Cube smart bins are designed to promote environmental awareness. With clear signs and specially-fabricated bin openings that encourage single stream recycling, Clean Cubes allow universities to achieve higher recycling diversion rates.

Due to the size of the universities, traditional bins were spread out across the campuses. Not knowing how full any of these bins were meant that waste collection operators had to collect all of the bins on a regular schedule.

Clean City Networks (CCN) provided immense value by providing waste operators a way to monitor the status and fill-level of the smart bins in real-time, allowing them to schedule their collections for only the bins that required collection.

Additionally, CCN optimizes waste collection by calculating the fastest way to collect all the bins that require collection. This results in shorter collection trips, which means less fuel and maintenance costs for waste collection vehicles.

Dean of the United Campus Sustainability Office Kim Jang Hee praised the effectiveness of the Clean Cubes, saying that "Ecube Labs uses smart technology to allow university campuses to more effciently provide waste collection services. Their solutions not only save universities money by reducing required labor, time, and fuel, but it also ensures cleaner public areas and encourages people to recycle."

Clean Cubes has set the new standard of waste bins for Korean universities.

Smart bins at university environment

Lotte Department Store

Smart bins at a department store
Problem

Problem

  • Bins in high traffic areas becoming full quickly
  • Frequent bin emptying during store operations
  • Interfering with customers’ shopping experiences
Solution

Solution

  • Installation of Clean Cubes with LED advertisement panels
Results

Results

  • Increase in collection efficiency from 4~7 times a day to once a day
  • High advertising effect from the LED advertisement panels
  • More pleasant shopping experience for customers

Honestly, nobody expected that trash cans could raise customer satisfaction. Thanks to these smart bins, our customers can now focus on shopping and enjoy the pleasant department store atmosphere. We wanted to present the least amount of interference to our customers during the day. As a result of installing over 20 Clean Cubes, we did not have to pick up garbage during the day at all. That was exactly what we were looking for.

Lotte Department Store is a Korean retail company which is one of eight business units of Lotte Shopping. Lotte Department Store offers shopping services and operates cultural centers, galleries, and event halls. There are currently 48 branches nationwide, including 10 branches in Seoul.

In order to maximize the shopping experience of their customers, Lotte Department Store wanted to minimize the waste collection frequency during operations. Whether indoors or outdoors, Lotte’s cleaning staff had to visit high traffic areas of their malls and outlets during business hours up to four times on weekdays and seven times on weekends. These frequent waste collections not only meant high operational costs but it also interfered with customers’ shopping experiences.

After the installation, Lotte’s collection frequency decreased from four to seven times a day to just once a day. Even though the department store could have experienced even greater benefits, their company policy to empty out all the bins at least once a day limited these benefits. However, Lotte more than achieved their goal, which was to offer a better shopping experience to their customers by collecting waste only once after store hours. Moreover, Lotte was very satisfied with the fact that the Clean Cube's advertisement feature drew more attention and contributed to the 15% increase in customers' participation in storewide events.

In order to solve their problem, Lotte installed 24 Clean CUBE smart bins in central spots as well as near restrooms of Lotte Department Store locations. 8 of the 24 Clean Cubes were equipped with LED advertisement panels to promote various storewide events at the department store.

After a succesful pilot period, Lotte plans to make Ecube Labs' solutions a standard for all of their nationwide locations.

Smart bins at a department store