Two young Cambodians have built a smart bin that is set to encourage more effective waste management and recyling to help tackle the Kingdom’s mounting rubbish problem.
With support from USAID’s Development Innovations Cambodia initiative and automation company ArrowDot, Kieng Yang and Sok Pisey’s project aims to make waste disposal easier for average Cambodians.
Their smart bin prototype was displayed at the Product Innovation Programme Final Presentation (PIP) at the ArrowDot Center last month, as well as at a recent STEM exhibition at Preah Sisowath High School’s New Generation School.
Yang is a 10th grade student at the school, which has an innovative curriculum focused on communications technology, as well as a science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.
The 16-year-old is working in collaboration with 30-year-old IT specialist Pisey, who shares his interest in environmentally responsible innovation.
Before settling on their smart bin, the pair researched previously successful smart innovation projects from around the globe.
“The world faces global warming as a result of waste and pollution, and oceans are filled with trash and plastic. Our biodiversity is dying and so will humans. It is a matter of reducing and managing the waste. We must recycle what we can.
“Other countries also have smart bins, but this one was adapted in accordance with the situation here. It will be smart and easy to use,” Yang said speaking to The Post at PIP in June.
“In Cambodia people still have limited knowledge in terms of how to arrange their rubbish. It is also hard for garbage collectors,” he added, referring to junk collectors who rifle through rubbish to find recyclable tins and plastic for a living.
“Plastic waste and metal junk can be recycled. Some can be reused for daily purposes or decorations. Some can be ground, melted and printed into something else.”
Their smart bin will help by automatically categorising rubbish into different categories, with it initially able to distinguish between plastic and metal. Their project is also aimed at increasing recycling in Cambodia and raising awareness about the impact of waste.
The pair were also trained in a product innovation programme, a five-month funded training for 30 talented individuals selected to study electronics and programming, robotics, computer and mobile apps, design and development machinery, 3D printing and laser cutting.
“As part of the programme, we initially studied the fundamentals of Arduino programming, an introduction on how to write code, logic controllers, essential mechanisms, components, sensors, boards and product design. We also needed to learn about electronic components,” Yang said.
After three months of learning, the selected trainees had to come up with their final project, with Yang and Pisey producing their smart bin prototype.
The smart bin prototype is 75cm by 50cm, has one hole and a small screen.
Discarded waste is automatically divided into plastic and metal, with users awarded a complimentary discount shopping coupon if they answer a question that appears on the screen correctly. The screen also tells you whether the bin is full or not.
The small prototype cost the pair nearly $200 to make and it can hold up to 20 cans. Its ability to distinguish between plastic and metal has proved 100 per cent accurate so far.
“I’m very happy. Words cannot describe my feelings because I have never been part of such a big project like this.
“We’ve been told that our topic is very interesting and important and can help to increase recycling and proper waste management.
“When we finally made it work and function well, we were so excited that we shouted with joy. When it was displayed at PIP, we got a lot of positive feedback. They said they believe our product is a great idea for the future. Their compliments encouraged us to work harder,” Yang said.
Going forward, Yang and Pisey have big ambitions to tackle Cambodia’s waste problem on larger scale.
“Following this project, we plan to make a waste management system that is able to categorise waste in large factories on an industrial scale,” Yang said.