Tech solutions for waste management in Iran

June 19, 2019

TEHRAN – Waste segregation and management in Iran, especially in big cities, has been a challenge for years.

In late April, Tehran province department of environment announced that approximately 25% of the waste generated in Iran is recyclable. Everyday 8,000 tons of waste is being transferred to landfills in Tehran but not even one kilogram of it is recycled as waste segregation at source is not being practiced.

Recycling is of great importance as waste has a huge negative impact on the natural environment. Harmful chemicals and greenhouse gasses are released from rubbish in landfill sites. Recycling helps to reduce the pollution caused by waste as well as reduce the need for raw materials.

However, generation of waste in metropolis of Tehran has dropped by 1,000 tons per day in the current year (started March 21) compared to a year earlier, director general of Tehran Waste Management Organization affiliated to Tehran Municipality has said.

Technology and startups plan to find a solution for recycling waste and promoting waste segregation through implementing different plans. The Mehr News Agency released a report on Wednesday introducing some of these technology-based solutions as below.

Platform to manage urban solid waste

An Iranian knowledge-based company at Sharif University of Technology’s science and technology park designed a platform to manage urban solid waste.

Its application, developed by researchers from Sharif University of Technology and Amirkabir University, will be initiated in late June in Tehran, the company’s founder Ali Azarian announced.

The application is available in three versions for Android, iOS and web for small and mass solid waste producers and consumers (contractors), he explained.

Based on artificial intelligence and automatic procedure, it decreases operational expenses as well as traffic on road, he added.

The platform register request for delivering solid waste at the origin. The delivery cars collect the solid waste at a specific time, he said.

With this platform, which uses smart management, the number of personnel is decreased, he added.

The absence of infrastructure for waste segregation at origin, motivation for citizens and enough information in the field of waste segregation are the main problems Iran deals with, he explained.

The application tries to manage all abovementioned issues, he said.

Electronic wallet, cinema ticket and online taxi are other services which are provided by the application, he added.

Biodegradable plastic on the way

“We plan to design an additive masterbatch (MB) to biodegradable plastic,” producer Mahdieh Zaji said.

Masterbatch is a solid or liquid additive for plastic used for coloring plastics (color masterbatch) or imparting other properties to plastics (additive masterbatch).

There are two types of masterbatch. Color masterbatch is used to add color to the plastic. By blending different color additives you achieve the desired color and additive masterbatch, which is used to give other properties to the plastic. These properties include the texture of the plastic.

Generating electricity from wet garbage

A knowledge-based company at the Isfahan Science and Technology Town has manufactured a machine for generating electricity from wet garbage.

“Due to the high statistics of waste generation in Iran, we decide to design the machine in three different capacities of one, three and five tons,” the company’s managing director Hamidreza Azizian said.

The machine can be installed in different academic centers and neighborhoods and in this way, there is no need to transfer garbage in cities, he explained.

  •  The procedure

The waste can be converted into electricity during a procedure. To turn organic waste into electricity, organic waste is first drained into an underground digester. Through an anaerobic process, the waste is broken down or digested in the digester. This process of energy recovery releases methane gas. Once the biogas is released from the organic waste, it is then channeled through a valve. Now, the gas is useful for cooking energy and gas heat, but it can also be converted to electricity by combusting it.

Finally, the combustion of the biogas heats water in a boiler, which then moves turbines to generate electricity. Once the electricity is converted into a usable form, it will provide a home or community with electrical power.

Waste electric incinerator machine

A student team from Islamic Azad University branch of Tabriz has designed a waste garbage electric incinerator machine.

The machine is equipped with smart automatic control and is completely eco-friendly, one of designers Babak Khedmati explained.

Another smart application for solid waste

The platform provides integration system for waste recycling booths, affiliated to municipalities and contains six web-based applications.

Collection of solid waste from origin as well as waste recycling booths are the services provided by the platform designed by a startup team, the director Aidin Khankeshipour said.

The platform is operating in District 22 of Tehran and is planned to be applicable in districts 15, 1 and 2 as well as in other cities, he added.

Smart garbage monitoring

An Iranian knowledge-based company has designed a smart waste management system based on radio frequency identification (RFID).

The waste management organization should use new technologies in order to monitor the quality and quantity of its facilitations and services, the director Mehdi Baratpour said.

The first step is identification of garbage bins in cities, which is done by developing a data bank and installing two pieces of tags, which are resistant against climatic conditions, he explained.

Each bin should have a specific code which implies its maintenance and cleaning and should have an ID card as well, he said.

The sweeper, garbage-disposal car and garbage bin are saved in tags and can be reviewed by inspectors of the organization, he explained.

Effective segregation of wastes means that less waste goes to landfill which makes it cheaper and better for people and the environment.  It is also important to segregate for public health.  In particular, hazardous wastes can cause long term health problems, so it is very important that they are disposed of correctly and safely and not mixed in with the normal waste coming out of home or office.

In an environmental context, the use of RFID (radio frequency identification) and load cell sensor technology can be employed for not only bringing down waste management costs, but also to facilitate automating and streamlining waste (e.g., garbage, recycling, and green) identification and weight measurement processes for designing smart waste management systems.

Waste management is metropolises especially northern cities of the country have become a serious issue for the past few years. Unfortunately waste segregation at source is not being fully practice in the country.

Five types of waste

According to 4waste.com, waste can be classified into five types which are all commonly found around the house. These include liquid waste, solid rubbish, organic waste, recyclable rubbish and hazardous waste.

  •  Liquid waste

Liquid waste is commonly found both in households as well as in industries. This waste includes dirty water, organic liquids, wash water, waste detergents and even rainwater.

  • Solid rubbish

Solid rubbish can include a variety of items found in household along with commercial and industrial locations.

Solid rubbish is commonly broken down into the following types:

Plastic waste – This consists of bags, containers, jars, bottles and many other products that can be found in household. Plastic is not biodegradable, but many types of plastic can be recycled. Plastic should not be mixed in with regular waste, it should be sorted and placed in recycling bin.

Paper/card waste – This includes packaging materials, newspapers, cardboards and other products. Paper can easily be recycled and reused.

Tins and metals – This can be found in various forms throughout home. Most metals can be recycled.

Ceramics and glass – These items can easily be recycled.

  •  Organic waste

Organic waste is another common household. All food waste, garden waste, manure and rotten meat are classified as organic waste. Over time, organic waste is turned into manure by microorganisms. However, this does not mean that one can dispose them anywhere.

Organic waste in landfills causes the production of methane, so it must never be simply discarded with general waste.

  •  Recyclable rubbish

Recyclable rubbish includes all waste items that can be converted into products that can be used again. Solid items such as paper, metals, furniture and organic waste can all be recycled.

  • Hazardous waste

Hazardous waste includes all types of rubbish that are flammable, toxic, corrosive and reactive.

These items can harm human beings as well as the environment and must be disposed of correctly.

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