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In 2017, 70 percent of the global waste has been generated in cities - and a rising trend is expected in the next years. One step to efficiently and economically process this waste is the waste separation at source. It is fundamental for reusing and recycling resources because it prevents the contamination of the materials, thus increases their quality. As this system relies on the active participation of citizens, it needs to be simple and easy to understand by the users. The main aspect is that user sort waste according to the materials it is made of, but also that citizens can be identified, thus allowing differentiated pricing when people recycle more or less. In addition, this system can also facilitate composting and the recycling of other stuff like electronics or clothes. 


Main Benefits
  • Reducing waste generation

  • Recycling waste

  • Enabling new business opportunities

  • Reducing GHG emissions

Potential Benefits
  • Creating new jobs

  • Promoting sustainable behavior


Functions help you to understand what the products can do for you and which ones will help you achieve your goals.
Each solution has at least one mandatory function, which is needed to achieve the basic purpose of the solution, and several additional functions, which are features that can be added to provide additional benefits.

Mandatory Functions
    sorting waste
    identifying citizen and waste generation
    informing citizen about waste seperation
Potential Functions
    composing waste
    preventing waste
    providing specific disposals for sepcific types of waste

Business Model

Implementation Facts

Average Implementation Time: less than 6 months 


Market Overview

Sorting waste at the source can be done in different ways: Single or multi-stream. In the single stream version, people dispose recyclable materials in one commingled container, while, in a multi-stream system they have to sort them into two or more bins. According to Lakhan (2015), the single stream system has lower costs of collection, however, the value of the material collected is higher and processing costs are lower in multi-stream systems. As the graphic below shows, the revenue is higher implementing a multi-stream system.


(Lakhan, 2015) Based on data from 223 municipalities from Ontario (Canada) on a period of ten years.


Pricing: Example Pay As You Throw

A common regulation to reduce waste generation and increase recyclables is the called Pay As You Throw system (PAYT). In this scheme, households pay a fee which varies according to the amount of waste they generate. PAYT systems consist of a fixed fee or a tax and a variable element that can depend on "container sizes, the number of sacks, frequency of collection, or the weight collected" (Seyring et al., 2015: 15).

Example of PAYT System in the Veneto Region, Italy:

(Simon, 2014)


Example: Parma (Italy)

The city of Parma implemented a new waste management system in 2014, which included a Zero Waste strategydoor-to-door collection, and the introduction of the bio-waste collection. The table shows how the changes made by the city reduced the costs of waste management, which included a decrease of treatment costs for residual waste (due to less generation) and an increase of the income from recycling (as there were more materials and less contaminated). In addition, more jobs were created with the introduction of this system (Rosa, 2016).

(Rosa, 2016)

Driving Factors

Government initiatives

Governments are setting recycling targets to increase the amount of waste recovered. In this context, the most progressive initiative is the Zero Waste strategy, whose aim is to recover and reuse all materials avoiding incineration or landfill burying. Cities in Italy (Capannori, Priula, Treviso, Parma), Spain (Argentona, Gipuzkoa), Slovenia (Ljubljana, Vrhnika) and France (Roubaix) have already started to implement Zero Waste policies (Zero Waste Europe, 2017).


Circular Economy - European Union

In 2015, the European Commission adopted the Circular Economy Package, which aim is to reduce resource consumption through better design and to increase reuse and recycling. This package includes legislative proposals on waste with new targets, action on food waste, a finance support platform, and some other regulations (European Commission, 2017).

Legal Requirements


  • Directive 2008/98/EC: Waste Framework Directive
  • Directive 98/62/EC: Waste legislation on Packaging and Packaging Waste
  • Directive 2012/19/EU: on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
  • Directive 2006/66/EC: on waste batteries and accumulators

Use Cases



Intelligent waste management system in Ludwigsburg

Owing to the Sustainability strategy of the city of Ludwigsburg, the municipality aims at optimizing the waste collection routes in the city. As a pilot project the city has installed cameras with inbuilt sensors in the 15 waste bins across the city.


Optical sorting system for smart waste collection

Within the Grow Smarter project, optical sorting technologies have been combined with a smart waste collection system to increase waste recycling rates in multi-family residential areas.

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Related solutions

Intelligent Waste Logistics

The global amount of waste produced is steadily rising. With the amount of waste, the importance of an efficient processing of waste grows. Intelligent waste logistic covers the waste chain from the pick-up of the waste at the inhabitants' place to the processing of recycling and destruction.

Green Remediation

Within the EU, there are many brownfields with polluted soil, water or air. A significant number of these brownfields have a central location and are connected to the transport system. Green Remediation is a solution which remediates these brownfields and enables the use of these areas.

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