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Planet Earth is currently suffering from overpopulation. According to the United Nations, over 83 million people are added to the world's population each year. This results in increasing pressure on the planet's limited natural resources and negatively affects the environment.
The tendency shows that this will increase in the next few years. By 2025, the world population will be over 8 billion people. Around 2050 it could hit 9.8 billion, and by 2100 it could reach a massive 11.2 billion people.
Logically, an increase in population means an increase in waste. According to the United Nations, there is 2.12 million tons of waste every year.
"Every year humans dump a massive 2.12 billion tons of waste. If all this waste were put on trucks they would go around the world 24 times." -WorldCounts.com
Urban development: Waste generation
According to the World Bank Group, an organization that promotes prosperity in a sustainable way, current global Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) (PDF) generation levels are approximately 1.3 billion tonnes per year. Municipal Solid Waste is commonly known as trash or garbage. The global waste generation levels are expected to increase to approximately 2.2 billion tonnes per year by 2025.
This represents a significant increase in per capita waste generation rates, from 1.2 to 1.42 kg per person per day in the next fifteen years with rates varying by region, country, cities, and even within the same city.
Global annual waste generation
Driven by rapid urbanization and growing populations, global annual waste generation is expected to jump to 3.4 billion tonnes over the next few decades, according to the World Bank Group.
"If Earth’s history is compared to a calendar year, modern human life has existed for 23 minutes, and we have used one-third of Earth’s natural resources in the last 0.2 seconds." -WorldCounts.com
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans alone generated about 254 million tons of trash in 2013, and recycled and composted about 87 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 34.3 percent recycling rate.
On average, humans have recycled and composted 1.51 pounds of the total individual waste generation of 4.40 pounds per person per day.
The graph below shows the total MSW recycling rate in a study from 1960 to 2013 in the United States alone and the increasing tendency that continues rising.
Countries that produce the most waste
The United States tops the list of the ten countries that produce the most waste followed by Russia, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Mexico, France, Italy, Spain, and Turkey.
Although China is not on the list, China will produce approximately 533 million tons of waste by 2030, according to the World Bank Group.
One of the main reasons is the increase of waste in consumption of packaged foods. The packaged-food market uses an incredibly unnecessary amount of packaging, which mainly contains plastic, one of the main ocean pollutants.
At this rate, we are going to live in waste. Actions to prevent excess waste in the future must be coupled with immediate action plans. Otherwise, the world's environmental problems are going to escalate dramatically in a shorter period of time.
Countries that recycle the most
Sweden is a global champion of recycling. The Scandinavian country recycles almost 100 percent of all household waste produced. a total of 50 percent of the recycled waste is turned into energy in Sweden.
Sweden aims for a zero waste society by 2020. The Scandinavian country currently recycles 99 percent of its total household waste.
In general, all the Scandinavian and Nordic countries have functional, well-organized recycling programs, which includes recycling plastic bottle machines in all supermarkets. When consumers put a bottle in a recycling machine they get money back.
In 2016, Sweden converted 2.3 million tons of household waste into energy. In 2015, they imported waste from the UK, Norway, and Ireland to help them recycle their waste.
Evreka brings solutions on how to deal with waste in smart cities
In order to deal with the current global waste problem companies such as Evreka are emerging.
Evreka is an innovative hardware enabled Software as a Service (SaaS) smart waste collection and environmentally friendly cleaning solutions company headquartered in Turkey.
The company, founded in January 2015 by engineers Umutcan Duman, Berkay Akçora, Mert Barutçu, and Mehmet Pancaroğlu, is aware of the devastating consequences that excess waste and the lack of adequate waste management bring to the planet and its population.
"We started the company in Ankara METU Technopolis, which is the biggest technopark in Turkey," Umutcan Duman, CEO of Evreka tells Interesting Engineering.
The company, headquartered in Ankara, also counts with offices in Istanbul and Germany.
Since its beginnings, Evreka develops high-standard innovative technologies based on the Smart City concept in order to help alleviate the global waste problem. Evreka provides cities with an innovative perspective for waste collection solutions from end-to-end.
By digitalizing waste collection management and city cleaning operations, Evreka makes these systems highly efficient and easily traceable. This results in a significant cost reduction in addition to saving time and increasing overall citizen satisfaction.
Evreka is the sector leader in Turkey and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, providing its end-to-end solutions to international waste management companies, smart cities, and municipalities in France, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, India, and Pakistan.
Evreka! Smart waste collection: How it works
Evreka installs sensors on waste containers. These sensors collect data on fullness levels, temperature, location, and movement information of the waste containers.
Thanks to the sensors, it is possible to follow and track operations in real-time. Therefore, all route operations can be optimized using Evreka's forecasting algorithm and screen panels on the vehicles.
Fuel consumption is reduced as well as carbon emissions, which can be reduced up to 55 percent. The result is a more efficient and environmentally friendly waste collection operations suitable and required for creating smart cities.
A lot of work needs to be done. "It is not only waste collection but also the whole lifecycle of waste from production to reuse to recycle to energy, says Evreka's Umutcan Duman as the company continues its mission improving waste management for a better quality of life in the cities of the future.