Innovation comes in many forms. Sometimes it's about the technology, but just as often, a process innovation can be a game changer. 

New initiatives on our Auckland Council community facilities contract in New Zealand utilise both technology and process innovation to save our client, and the environment, in carbon emissions.

Operations Contract Manager for the Wha region, Jason Foster, was instrumental in helping get the bin sensor trial up and running. 

His background in recycling and waste management has been advantageous to the contract, as he brought lessons learned from prior roles into our contract team.


Contract Manager Wha region, Auckland Council, Jason Foster standing at Auckland beachfront in front of a public bin

The beautiful Mission Bay in Auckland is just one of the locations our people maintain


Sensing the need for action

Through our contract with Auckland Council, we are required to ensure the 5000+ public bins are emptied regularly.  

A significant amount of data had been collated by the team since the contract commenced, which gave valuable insights into when and where bins around the region were filling up, how long it took our orderlies to complete their routes and where the challenges were. 

Jason says the next step was to reach out to New Zealand company PipIOT to review the data and provide their recommendations on ways we could improve on performance with the addition of sensors using radar and infrared to assess bin fullness. The sensors would essentially tell the crew which bins to empty and which to leave. 

The team looked at a specific route on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula that includes 135 bins. 


An open garbage bin with the newly installed sensor visible

By installing sensors under the lids of the garbage bins, the time spent emptying the bins was reduced significantly.


"Effectively the results of the analysis showed that with the addition of these sensors under the lid of the bins, a route that was taking up to seven and a half hours could be reduced to four using efficiency gains," Jason explains.

The benefits of this reduction in route completion time include the ability to reduce the fleet by up to eight vehicles. 

The smaller fleet means lower carbon emissions and also less noise for residents and the community.

Whilst this new process is still officially in trial, the team hopes to implement it fully by January 2023. 

When the sensors are deployed right across the region, which Ventia currently services via 30 separate rounds, there could be up to a 51 metric ton reduction in CO2 per year. 


A street sweeper in action in an Auckland park

Hot water pavement washers are another initiative being trialed in the Auckland CBD zone.


Steam cleaning Auckland's streets

A second initiative being trialed in the Auckland CBD zone is the use of hot water pavement washers. The CMAR LD 2500+ Hot Water Pavement Washers are the first of their kind to be used in New Zealand, utilising a combined system of hot water, high pressure and suction. Jason says this enables us to perform deep cleaning of paved areas while reducing both noise complaints and C02 emissions.  

"The CBD is a high-use, high profile area, with a variety of stakeholders from businesses to pedestrians to residents and tourists," he says. "This new equipment is not only providing a better-quality outcome environmentally and in terms of performance." 

Under the original process, one of our team members was able to clean 1m2 every minute, utilising 8 litres of water. 

With the new machines at their lowest speed - which we use in the built-up CBD for safety reasons, the crew can cover 40m2 of pavement per minute and only use around half a litre.

There is also a reduction in the impact of noise for residents, as the equipment passes through more quickly. 

In addition to the CMARs, Ventia has also purchased four electric scrubbers, which enable us to clean safely during the day, with minimal noise and impact on city pedestrians.  

"The removal of the less efficient methods and machinery from our operations has resulted in a reduction in CO2 of around 19 tons a year," Jason says.

In addition to the environmental benefits, the equipment and process improvements have given team members the opportunity to upskill into new roles on other parts of the contract. 

It is expected that we will expand the use of this equipment into other regions of our facility management contract in Auckland in coming months.