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A sanitation worker sifts through a dumpster in Washington, D.C. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A startup called Compology is using high-tech cameras in dumpsters and AI analytics to help companies and cities better manage their waste streams.

Why it matters: Trash — unlike electricity or water — isn't easy for cities to meter, "which contributes to the inefficiency around waste management," says Jason Gates, Compology's CEO.

  • By being able to track exactly how much and what kind of waste is in a dumpster, Compology enables its customer to cut down on unneeded pickups and improve recycling rates.

Background: Gates got his start in the waste business by managing the trash created during major infrastructure construction in New York like the Second Avenue subway line project.

  • He noticed that, on average, dumpsters were only about 50% full when they were collected by sanitation trucks.
  • That's because pickups were done on a schedule — not based on the actual amount of waste in the dumpsters.

What they're saying: "Waste and recycling is the only utility that doesn't have any form of measurement, because everything is based off estimates," says Gates. "Not only does that mean unnecessary vehicle miles emitting carbon, but businesses and taxpayers end up paying for trash service that they don't actually need."

How it works: Compology installs military-grade cameras in large dumpsters that take pictures of the contents roughly five times a day.

  • Those images get sent back to an AI system that uses image recognition to identify how full the dumpster is and what kind of trash is contained inside.
  • Pickup schedules can be more efficiently timed to when the trash really is full, while the AI system "can determine that you're putting Amazon boxes in a landfill garbage container and push out a message to move that cardboard into your recycling container," says Gates.

By the numbers: A sanitation company in California's Alameda County that partnered with Compology was able to reduce waste management costs by 20% and recycling contamination by 80%.

What's next: Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas have launched pilot projects with Compology, and the company is looking to scale its technology down to work with smaller waste customers, including residences.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Biden: U.S. combat mission in Iraq will end this year

Biden returning to the White House on July 25. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The United States' combat mission against the Islamic State in Iraq will be completed "by the end of the year," President Biden said Monday prior to a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Why it matters: Biden is close to shifting the U.S. military mission in Iraq to a fully advisory role more than 18 years after combat troops were sent to the country under the former President George W. Bush.

How extreme weather feeds inflation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

This summer's extreme weather is having ripple effects that could raise food prices in the U.S. and disrupt diets around the world.

Why it matters: Climate scientists and food supply experts, like those at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, have long warned about the impact of human-caused global warming on prices, food shortages and hunger.

EA Sports is in expansion mode

EA Sports general manager Daryl Holt (left). Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photos: EA Sports

The biggest player in sports video games has plans to get even bigger — on mobile, in football, maybe even with basketball again — EA Sports general manager Daryl Holt said in an exclusive interview with Axios.

Why it matters: Sports gaming doesn’t get much press, but it’s a surging market with increased competition and lots of players up for grabs.