Unico optimizes garbage collection

Posted on 24 October 2019.

Aimed at local authorities and the people living there, the Unico app optimizes garbage truck journeys to reduce their ecological footprint.

The app is based on a simple principle: users just press the green button when the trash is almost empty, the orange one for 50% full, and the red one for full.

A more sustainable world will only be possible with better waste management. In France alone, 355 million metric tons of garbage are produced annually, 30 million of which comes from homes. According to ADEME in 2016 this amounted to around 511 kg waste per person.
The problem is that collection systems don’t adapt to demand - you may live alone, have a large family, or be on holiday. In other words, the trash is collected from everyone whether or not it’s full!
To make trash collection more efficient, economical and environmentally friendly, three student-entrepreneurs from Ense3 in Grenoble developed a waste management app. Totally free of charge, it is aimed at local authority collection organizations operating in mainly rural communities where most people live in individual houses. In the discussion phase with several cities, the three student-entrepreneurs hope to start the test phase in the fall of 2019. 
Called Unico, the app is based on a simple principle: users press the green button when the trash is almost empty, the orange one for 50% full, and the red one for full.
This information is then sent to an interface managed by the local authority, which "can optimize the garbage collectors’ routes and reduce the environmental impact," explains Jules Grammont, co-founder of Unico.
The app also means households are able to not only monitor and better control how much garbage they produce, but also learn more about the zero waste movement, composting and recycling.
To help change habits, a map also shows sorting centers, waste collection centers and shops that sell loose products, use short circuits or recycle goods.

Incentive pricing

And to take waste reduction a step further, Unico allows local authorities to set up an incentive pricing system for waste collection. The aim is to encourage people to produce less waste, sort it better, and so reduce their taxes.
According to ADEME, incentive pricing reduces the amount of residual household waste by 41%! However, for the time being France has only introduced it for some 5 million people in 220 waste collection groupings.
And as far as the start-up Unico is concerned, it hopes to encourage people to produce less garbage by rewarding them in the form of vouchers they can use in local environmentally-friendly shops. A lesson in how to reduce the amount of garbage produced and at the same time promote the local circular economy.