Smart recycling and food distribution

Computer Recycling, Creative Commons Wastebusters
Computer Recycling, Creative Commons Wastebusters

How many miles do you think a delivery men and women make around the city in any one day? Now how many of those miles do you think are travelled with an empty car/van as they drop off their loads? Now, what if that space and those journeys could be put to good use?

Imagine if delivery companies worked in partnership with local businesses to transport goods, not even going that far out of their way to make collections, because they’d already identified pick ups that were on their route.

This system could be used for waste products and IT recycling (as set out in the case study below), or it could be used for internal mail between office in the city. Or maybe to distribute products and other goods from the city centre out into the neighbourhoods. The possibilities are endless and the benefits are obvious. Cheaper transport solutions, less traffic on the roads and better relationships between businesses are just some that I can think of and it’s not that far fetched an idea.

The smart city roadmap has already identified a company doing just this;

London’s Carbon Voyage IT  recycling scheme uses an information market place to  compare demand from SMEs for old IT equipment to be collected  and recycled. The scheme provides information on journeys about to  be undertaken by empty vans which could make a small diversion  to pick up the equipment and take  it to a recycling centre.

The residual value of the recycled equipment pays for the marginal transport cost, with profit returned to the SME or donated to charity. Before, SMEs couldn’t afford the cost to recycle. So an intermediary – Carbon Voyage, the market operator – took the risk to start a service to aggregate demand.

Open data enabling this service includes the location, size and IT usage of SMEs in London – helping Carbon Voyage understand the size of the market they’re investing in. Non-open data includes the use of technology to request collection of old equipment and data feeds from transport companies indicating the location and routing of their fleets.

Traffic Jam in Birmingham. Creatve Commons Steph Clarke
Traffic Jam in Birmingham. Creatve Commons Steph Clarke

Carbon Voyage is assessing if their model can be applied to other market sectors, and whether it could help with local food initiatives alongside partners in Birmingham.

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