We’re using smart sensors to ensure rubbish bins are emptied at the right time.

bin sensorOverflowing public rubbish bins are a frequent source of complaints from residents.

Our rubbish collection contractors work constantly to empty the city’s bins but they don’t know until they arrive at the site whether they’ll find an empty bin, a full one or an overflowing mess. 

The bin sensor trial uses LevelSense sensors, which were developed by Christchurch company PiP IoT, to check rubbish levels.

The sensors enable our contractors to recognise optimal waste collection times and recommend optimal collection routes.

As a result, Council operational managers can find out whether we have the right number of bins in the right places to meet public demand. 

How the sensors work

A small unit mounted on the inside of the bin lid uses sonar, which detects the rubbish level and transmits readings to the monitoring system.

A dashboard shows the status of each bin. When rubbish reaches a specified level, the system alerts the contractor that the bin needs emptying.

Anticipated outcomes

  • Reduction in CO2 emissions and pollution – fewer rubbish collection trucks on the road for less time, which means lower fuel consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Fewer collection trucks on the road will also mean less noise pollution, air pollution, and less wear and tear on our road network.
  • Reduction in operational costs – managing waste takes a large portion of our rates dollar. Bin level sensors and monitoring solutions have been known to reduce waste collection costs by up to 50 per cent (fewer collections mean less money spent on driver hours, fuel and truck maintenance).
  • Significant reduction in overflowing rubbish bins – overflowing rubbish is a breeding ground for bacteria, insects and pests because of accumulated rubbish. It’s a public nuisance and unpleasant for residents and visitors to our garden city.
  • Identifies the use (or misuse) of public rubbish bins – for example, sudden spikes in rubbish levels at night can indicate that household rubbish is being dumped illegally from residents or freedom campers. 


More than 50 per cent of the world’s population lives in cities and the figure is set to rise to 75 per cent by 2050. While the world’s cities only cover two per cent of the global land area, they account for a staggering 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and share responsibility for global climate change.

We urgently need sustainable solutions to combat these city-focused issues. Energy-saving and efficient street and traffic lighting, water and wastewater management, and the reduction of CO2 emissions from motor vehicles are all integral elements of the whole solution.

What’s next

Smart Cities Christchurch is working with local contractor Citycare and local IoT manufacturer PiP IoT to deploy 100 bin sensors across Christchurch in early 2018.