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Waste management in urban settings is crucial for maintaining a clean and sustainable environment. While many materials like glass, textiles, and Lithium-ion batteries are already being recycled, the collection process is time-consuming and inefficient. With the rise of IoT technologies, there's an opportunity to revolutionize this process.

Connected sensor networks can optimize the collection of recyclables by:

  • Ensuring that containers are emptied at the optimal time
  • Checking for any tampering or damage
  • Preventing overfilling
  • Avoiding unnecessary trips to underused containers.

Smart waste collection


However, implementing smart recycling systems can be difficult, especially for small municipalities. They need to collect data from many types of sensors, which are challenging to assemble and integrate into collection containers. The varied material properties and complex geometries of collected material piles also make standard IoT sensors ineffective.


Part of the Unitron Group, Unitron Connect designs and manufactures purpose-built telecommunications equipment to address special needs like these. Unitron’s multipurpose smart waste sensor combines an industrial-grade housing, NB-IoT/LTE-M communications, and a variety of sensors to monitor fill level, gas level, temperature, air quality, location, and more. Each unit can be programmed for various material properties, managed over the air (OTA), and mounted in any collection container.

Unitron Connect

To collect all this data at scale, Unitron Connect uses EMQX Enterprise. Unlike other MQTT brokers, EMQX is a multi-protocol IoT platform. It supports Unitron’s use of MQTT-SN for data collection – a lighter version of MQTT designed for low-power wireless sensor networks. Once in EMQX, sensor data can be routed using any of its 40+ native integrations to common backend applications like databases, message queues, and data analysis systems. EMQX can also process sensor data in motion, using its native rules engine to recognize problem indicators and relay alarms to city operations and emergency services.

EMQX offered us a full solution to support our low-power requirements,” said Hendrik Caron, Hardware Engineer at Unitron Connect.


EMQX Enterprise has processed 50 million messages from Unitron Connect’s network of 15,000 waste and recycling containers across Belgium. The real-time data produced by each sensor helps city managers reduce truck rolls while improving the scope and effectiveness of collection programs. Granular monitoring of fill levels yields better planning so containers are fuller at pickup. Sensitive waste materials like batteries can be monitored for temperature spikes indicating an impending fire.

In the journey toward redefining urban waste management, Unitron Connect proudly partnered with EMQ Technologies. Together, we're addressing waste collection challenges by pioneering a data-driven approach that promises efficiency and safety.

Find more about Unitron Connect at

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