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In Pictures: New sensor makes recycling bins smarter, more efficient

RecycleSmart Solutions is one of four semi-finalists for the Globe's Small Business Challenge contest

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RecycleSmart Solutions Inc. helps companies in Canada and the United States be more environmentally sensitive. The firm has developed technology that uses ultrasonic sensors to gauge the content level of a waste or recycling bin. This ensures that trucks will carry away only full bins, which makes the collection process more efficient. Pictured is Colin Bell, co-founder and managing partner.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

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This graphic supplied by RecycleSmart Solutions shows how a sensor inside the bin sends out a “ping” signal using sound waves every hour. It then sends signals to a nearby cellular modem. “When the bin is 85 per cent full, the cell modem ‘calls’ for pickup,” explains Mr. Bell.

RecycleSmart Solutions Inc.

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This is the sensor, which is mounted inside the trash or recycling bin.

RecycleSmart Solutions Inc.

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RecycleSmart employs six full-time workers and five contractors. Revenue over the past three years has grown dramatically, to $500,000 from $76,000.

RecycleSmart Solutions Inc.

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The company also conducts waste audits to help companies recycle better.

RecycleSmart Solutions Inc.

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Now all RecycleSmart needs to do is persuade customers and waste management companies that it makes business and environmental sense to let the content level of their bins – and not a preset schedule – dictate when their waste should be picked up. Mr. Bell says waste-management providers have been cool to RecycleSmart’s idea because switching to pickup on demand will cut revenue. But that’s only in the short term, he says; reduced pickups from existing customers will free up space on their trucks and allow them to service more customers. To make a case for its potentially disruptive technology, RecycleSmart wants to roll out 100 bins in North America and run a pilot project for six months.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

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