McDonald’s is one of a growing number of businesses that are installing cameras in dumpsters to give more intel on their waste streams. This data can help each company recycle more efficiently and save money.

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The idea to place cameras inside dumpsters to track waste comes from Jason Gates, CEO of the San Francisco-based start-up Compology. Since 2013, Compology has used artificial intelligence to process more than 80 million photos from 162,000 trash-monitoring cameras. The system has helped companies cut the volume of non-recyclables thrown in with trash by up to 80%.

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“We’ve found that most businesses and people have the right intentions about recycling, but oftentimes they just don’t know what the proper way to recycle is,” Gates said.

The Compology system uses a combination of sensors and cameras that take multiple photos per day. Artificial intelligence software alerts the customer when something is in the wrong place, such as a bag of trash thrown in with the recycling. The people onsite then receive a text telling them to move that bag before the recycling truck comes as well as explaining how trash contaminates recycling.

Customers can also track how full their dumpsters are. On the individual level, business owners will save money if they only pay for service when the receptacle is full. On the societal level, we all save thanks to fewer emissions and the reduced burning of fossil fuels used for hauling.

Brent Bohn, owner and operator of many Phoenix and Las Vegas McDonald’s outlets, is a happy customer. “The cameras have really streamlined that for us and provided accountability for us, but also for our suppliers and the haulers that we work with,” Bohn said.

Customers pay between $10 and $20 per dumpster per month. The service can save them thousands annually on the cost of waste hauling. Gates hopes that his company can improve the inconsistent waste measuring and reporting in the U.S. “You’ve been able to measure how much electricity, water, gas you’ve used for decades,” he said. “What we’re doing is being able to meter how much waste you produce.”

Via CNN Business

Image via RJA1988