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Smart Garbage for Smart Cities with IoT October 24, 2018

Alumnus Soo-bom Kwon, CEO of Ecube Labs, revamps the ordinary garbage can with IoT

Soo-bom Kwon, CEO of Ecube Labs


With the dedication and expertise of a Yonsei University alumnus, Internet of Things (IoT) is revamping yet another everyday item: the garbage can.


A “smart” garbage can that automatically compresses and measures its amount of waste - thus producing cost benefits and environmental benefits - is becoming popular worldwide. Its creator, Ecube Labs, is an innovative green technology company that manufactures smart and connected waste bins and solar-powered portable waste compactors, providing eco-friendly waste management solutions based on data-driven IoT technology for smart and sustainable cities.


Soo-bom Kwon (entering class of ’06, Industrial Engineering) founded Ecube Labs in July 2011. “We should make trash cans smarter,” was his first thought upon seeing overflowing waste bins around the campus of Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea where he was studying as an undergraduate student.


Wondering how to make garbage bins greener and cleaner, Kwon came up with the idea to “compress garbage the same way we do it at home — by pushing it down using our feet or hands” and so he decided to install a device inside the bin which automatically compresses the waste. He also thought of using solar energy to power the trash compactor bin, and so these two innovative ideas grew to become the main concepts behind Ecube Labs’ products.


Solar-powered waste compacting bin CleanCUBE in Singapore
(Photo credit: Ecube Labs Instagram)


Solar-powered waste compacting bin CleanCUBE in Singapore (Photo credit: Ecube Labs Instagram)

Other than the waste-compressing garbage bin, Kwon also created a fill-level sensor that can be attached to any ordinary waste bin or container. The wireless ultrasonic device calculates the real-time number of waste units and comes up with an optimized solution for the number of waste collectors and garbage trucks needed for collection, enabling cities and waste management companies to increase their operational waste collection efficiency by a maximum 50%. Also, Ecube Labs provides differentiated integration solutions for waste management. In Korea, the company has installed a smart garbage collection system in the city of Goyang and is currently planning to expand to Seoul, Busan and Jeju island.


Ultrasonic fill-level sensor CleanFLEX (Photo credit: Ecube Labs Instagram)


Compared to Korea, where regional municipalities are responsible for waste collection, many countries hire private companies for waste collection. Therefore, Ecube Labs’ efficient products have great potential for the global market, and the company already has distributors in 25 countries worldwide.


Last January, Ecube Labs won a contract with the City of Baltimore’s Smart City project — valued at 15 million USD, the largest smart waste bin deployment in history. Over the next three years, the company will install over 4,500 smart bins, thus keeping streets clean and greatly reducing waste collection expenses.


“Waste-related issues are not something new, they have always been around. We were just able to grasp new opportunities by thinking from a different perspective. Waste collection is something that is done in every country, all over the globe. That is why our goal is to become a company which provides useful integrated solutions to the world.”



<Originally published on September 18, 2018>


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