Digital technologies like robotics, cloud computing and artificial intelligence will help improve the sustainability of Europe’s waste management systems. According to a European Environment Agency (EEA) briefing released, increased use of these technologies can help deliver more effective waste management across Europe, improving logistics, recycling rates and enable better purchasing and sorting decisions by consumers.
Uses of advanced digitalisation technologies in waste management and treatment are only just emerging across Europe. Applications are currently mostly in the innovation stage, the EEA briefing says, adding that their use is crucial to help shift to circular and sustainable models of production, consumption and disposal. Digital technologies can also help citizens and companies understand the consequences of their own behaviour to then be able to contribute to prevent waste generation or facilitate recycling by separating more efficiently.
The briefing provides an overview of the potential benefits of using digital technologies in the European waste management sector. It is based on a report by the European Topic Centre on Waste and Materials in a Green Economy (ETC/WMGE).
The analysis says examples of these technologies can already be found across different steps of the waste management process. The current situation in Europe, however, is very heterogeneous, with different technologies being applied at various scales. It stresses that the digital transformation of the waste management sector should be aligned with plans to make greater use of digital technologies in the development of a circular economy.