Montpellier: connected composting for a cleaner city

The user

The city of Montpellier is the capital of the Hérault department, in southern France. With a population of almost 270,000 people, Montpellier is the fastest growing city in the country.

Within the Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole, the Commission for the Prevention and Valorisation of Waste is in charge of managing waste collection and of working to reduce the amount of domestic waste produced in the city.

The challenge

In Montpellier, each habitant produces an average of 114 kg of organic waste per year, and three tons are produced daily by school canteens alone.

Since 2016, those producing more than ten tons of organic wastes per year have the obligation to recycle and give value to them.  Hence, the Municipality of Montpellier was looking for an effective and viable solution to allow all habitants to recycle and value their organic waste.

Local collective composting makes it possible to give value to domestic organic wastes by turning them into fertilisers. Composting is easy, but the development of waste management coordination in cities is still restrained by lack of means and support. Moreover, collective composters can easily generate bad smells, which need to be prevented and rapidly managed to avoid nuisances to the neighbourhood.

The satellite solution

To address these challenges, the Municipality of Montpellier decided to partner with Ecosec, a local cooperative developing processes and equipment to give value to urban organic wastes. The initiative was supported by the ministerial incubator Green Tech Verte, and launched under the policy Ville belle.

Thanks to this collaboration, Ecosec developed a connected composter called Waste Connection, which contains a number of sensors monitoring in real time the trays’ internal and external temperature, humidity, weight and gases (such as CO2, methane and ammonia).

Using open-source Arduino technology, with built-in satellite navigation, all these data are recorded, geolocated, and transmitted to a server, and then showcased on the web in open source.

The results

The real-time satellite connection allows the Municipality to timely intervene to empty the trays when they are full or when bad smells are produced, and to be immediately alerted in case of malfunctioning.

The sensors and the satellite connection allow for a reduction of the trays’ management costs and to intervene within two hours in case of bad smells. Moreover, by making all the information available online, the initiative aims at engaging all residents, making composting a collective and conscious process.

The first connected composter was inaugurated on the 1st of July 2017 on the Grisettes neighbourhood of Montpellier. Four additional composters will be deployed in 2017 to validate the beta-test. Afterwards, the solution will be commercialised on the whole French territory and abroad.

Thanks to SatNav, the connected composters can be monitored in real time and remotely. Waste connexion aims at democratising composting and promoting ecologically responsible citizenship”, Léa Egret, Ecosec