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IoT and sustainability: how sensors support the circular economy

How to reduce waste of resources?

Circular economy is a response. It was created to optimize resources and encourage the recycling of waste, as opposed to linear economy. In this traditional model, in fact, the asset is transformed, used and then thrown away with continuous production of waste and waste of resources.

The circular economy instead is conservative of the resource that becomes more productive, reducing waste and pollution.

Here are the principles that drive it:

1 – lengthening the life cycle of an asset

2 – increasing its use to prevent it being discarded ahead of time

3 – recycling of every part of the asset, identifying new uses

4 – regenerating the nutrients of the biosphere.

source: Environmental Services Association

The IoT (Internet of Things) integrates perfectly into the circular economy because it allows to increase the profitability and duration of an asset or resource.

How? Through Big Data and analysis.

IoT systems (Internet of Things) are composed of “intelligent” and interconnected devices which work automatically. We are talking about wireless sensors that collect data and continuously process information to know, in real time, the status or conditions of the monitored asset. This allows us to be able to intervene promptly if necessary to resolve critical issues and make the production cycle more efficient.

Some examples.

In agriculture, the IoT (Internet of Things) can be applied in the field to irrigate only when needed and in the precise quantity. The targeted consumption of water to the real need of the plant reduces waste and costs. The same goes for the use of soil nutrients and other substances to protect cultivation.
In viticulture, the IoT monitoring systems detect climatic conditions in the vineyard. These data are processed on the basis of predictive models, allowing to anticipate the onset of fungal diseases in order to safeguard production and health of the plant.

In hydroponic and aeroponic greenhouses, the sensors administer water and fertilizer based on the need detected. In the aquaponic greenhouses, the fertilizer is obtained from the organic residues of the fish that enter in the production process in a virtuous circle of continuous regeneration of the resource.
The vertical farms, built near large cities for the production of fruit and vegetables, optimize the use of resources and reduce pollution by eliminating road transport from the supply chain.

In the industry, the wireless sensors applied to the machines allow to check their state of health in a constant and continuous way. So it is possible to program maintenance before breakages occur, with consequent production stops, and extend the life of the monitored machine.

And again: the application of IoT (Internet of Things) extends to various fields, from the energy grid to city infrastructures.
Barcelona is often used as an example of smart city that has been able to integrate the IoT with various initiatives including the installation of 19,500 “smart meters” (data 2016) able to monitor and optimize the use of electricity in the different areas, and the adoption of rain and humidity sensors to regulate the irrigation of public parks with a cost saving of 25%.

Every age has its challenges and technology has also developed to address them. Now it’s the time to enter a new era, more sustainable for us and for the planet, and the IoT (Internet of Things) is one of the innovations that can support change.





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