Developing a smart waste solution for public spaces

In recent years, the increase in technology use has helped to transform cities into smart cities. Smart cities use communication technologies to improve operational efficiency and quality of life for citizens. The implementation of IoT sensors in urban areas helps address environmental and social concerns, as well as promote sustainable development practices. One of the applications of IoT for smart cities is the collection of data for optimising waste collection patterns and maintaining a city clean.

This was the reason for the initation of the VolleBak project. This project was conducted by a consortium consisting of Robor Electronics and WesterikICT. Robor develops electronic applications and devices to apply for people, animals, and nature. They are specialised in drone technology and wireless communications solutions, such as sensors and detectors. WesterikICT is an ICT and digital service agency. They also develop digital applications for e.g. remote sensing and alarm systems.

In the VolleBak consortium, guided by the FIP-AM@UT, they worked on the development of an IoT device that uses sensor technology for public waste management and collection. The sensors help measure waste levels and use real-time data to improve the collection patterns and operational costs. By implementing a smart waste management system, the waste collection routes can be planned more efficiently and only the full bins will be emptied. This results in, amongst other things, reduction of CO2 emissions, man hours, and a healthier environment for society.

Industry partners


During the project, the VolleBak consortium worked on the development of an IoT device that uses Bluetooth technology to monitor waste levels in public bins. The aim was to create a low-cost device that enabled users to gain insight into the number and location of bins that need to be emptied.

The device software, hardware, and manufacturing concept were developed considering the manufacturing volume demand, while keeping in mind sustainability within the manufacturing process, during the product lifecycle, and eco-conscious choices in components and materials. A comprehensive material analysis was carried out to identify the polymer that meets the project’s specific requirements and is also compatible with both additive manufacturing (3D printing) and injection moulding techniques. Several iterations of the device housing were developed that explored various component layouts, tolerances, and adhesion mechanisms.


The FIP-AM@UT, together with Robor Electronics and WesterikICT engineered an IoT device dedicated to the real-time monitoring of waste levels in public bins. An exhaustive evaluation of polymers resulted in ABS as the most suitable material. The internal components were arranged for optimal use of space, making the device as small, as low cost, and as hard to locate as possible. The design strategically minimises material usage, achieving a delicate balance between minimal material usage in injection molding and the durability outdoors.

By enabling more efficient waste management logistics through precise, data-driven insights, the IoT device significantly contributes to reducing CO2 emissions. This can be expressed in reductions in fuel consumption, operational hours, and associated costs, marking the solution an environmentally friendly approach to better waste management practices.

  • Gaining data-driven insights for demand-based waste collection route planning
  • Manufacturing with eco-conscious materials, prioritising recycled and recyclable components
  • Lean design approach to minimising resources and environmental impact during, and after the use phase
  • Minimising material use and product size without compromising core components and functionality
  • Maximising use of standardised parts to reduce manufacturing costs

This project was made possible through the Regio Deal supported by the Province of Overijssel and the Dutch State.

“Our collaboration with FIP-AM@UT was a game-changer for our project. Their dedicated team and expertise accelerated our product from idea to market seamlessly. FIP-AM@UT’s proactive approach, attention to detail, and innovative insights exceeded our expectations. Their contribution not only streamlined development but also added significant value to the final product. I highly recommend FIP-AM@UT for any organisation seeking a reliable and efficient development partner.” 

– Matthijs Nederveen
Project Manager (Robor Electronics)

For more information on VolleBak, feel free to reach out to

Ale Sarmiento Casas

Research Engineer