In 2016, Rotterdam extended a Paper and Cardboard Waste project with Enevo, leading innovator in smart waste-management. This project sought to increase monitoring of waste containers and use of Enevo Smart-Plan software for optimised waste collection route-planning in Rotterdam.
This video provides an introduction to the project!
The multi-storey, residential apartments in Rotterdam utilises a central waste collection system. This places the onus of ensuring that the underground containers are emptied reliably on the municipality of Rotterdam. To encourage recycling, waste collection needs to be made convenient for citizens, necessitating an optimal number and placement of receptacles along with scheduled collections to ensure space in the recycling containers.
I found the use of Geel’s (2004) framework for transitions in socio-technical regimes and Van de Poel’s (2000) framework for examining external pressure, useful in crystallising Rotterdam’s transition to a smart waste-management system.
Geel (2004) identified three dimensions of socio-technical regimes: regulative, normative, and cognitive. I identified the existing mechanisms under each heading for Rotterdam’s case-study here:
- Regulative – previous waste management system implemented by the government
- Normative – the lifestyles, habits and technical systems that people are used to
- Cognitive – core competencies of waste-management operators that turn into rigidities when operators are resistant to change
Regime transformation entails change in existing norms, regulations and beliefs that fall into these three categories (Geel, 2006).
External pressure from outsiders (definition: actors excluded from the community) are highly influential in these transitions (Van de Poel, 2000). In the case of Rotterdam, they fall into the Van de Poel’s (2000) categories of: (1) professional engineers who impart knowledge and design concepts, and (2) firms and entrepreneurs that develop technological novelties to match these concepts.
- Professional engineers introduce big data, analytics, and Internet of Things (IoT) technology to aid Rotterdam’s government in uncovering more efficient waste management and recycling practices
- Firm and entrepreneurs – Enevo and its smart waste-management solution for Rotterdam (illustrated below)
I hope the two frameworks were fruitful ways to explicate the mechanisms behind the cooperation between Rotterdam and Enevo!
I personally find that they are useful ways for understanding how rigidities and resistance to change stymie green transformations in the city. While technological solutions may be foreign and unfamiliar, they provide a propitious means to enhance the efficiency of urban metabolic flows of waste and recyclables. Using bodily metabolic processes that sustain human life to understand flows of waste underlying the everyday functioning of cities (Marvin and Medd, 2006), perhaps it is useful to think metaphorically of Enevo’s smart-plan software as akin to a pacemaker sending electric pulses to the human heart. I guess humans, and the cities we build alike, just need a little technological oomph sometimes.
For a more detailed understanding of the 2 models:
Geels, F. (2004) ‘From sectoral systems of innovation to sociotechnical systems: insights about dynamics and change from sociology and institutional theory’, Research Policy, Vol. 33, No. 6, 897 – 920.
Van de Poel, I. (2000) ‘On the role of outsiders in technical development’, Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, Vol. 12, No. 3, 383 – 397.
Other resources that helped me:
Geels, F. (2006) ‘The hygienic transition from cesspools to sewer systems (1840-1930): The dynamics of regime transformation’, Research Policy, Vol. 35, 1069 – 1082.
Marvin, S. and Medd, W. (2006) “Metabolisms of Obecity: Flows of Fat through Bodies, Cities and Sewers”, Environment and Planning A, Vol. 38, Issue 2, 137 – 149.
You can also read more about this project here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/05/prweb13422549.htm