While IFA Berlin is renowned as a consumer expo, there were plenty of companies at this year’s show with products designed for businesses. One such company is PLAEX Technologies.
Dutch-based PLAEX is tackling a problem that couldn’t be more contemporary: waste management.
It’s not simply that we humans are producing more waste than ever. It’s that a lot of that waste could be recycled and put back into circulation… if only it didn’t end up in the wrong bin!
When waste ends up in the wrong bin, it doesn’t magically get routed to the right waste stream. More likely than not, it gets discarded, ending up in a landfill.
While this certainly happens privately in households, PLAEX is currently focused on helping businesses, particularly those operating attached to large venues or office spaces.
To meet the challenge, PLAEX has come up with Garby. This affectionately named bin uses artificial intelligence and IoT sensors to automatically sort through four different types of waste. PLAEX estimates that Garby helps reduce 70% of residual waste and emissions while enabling organisations to save up to 68% in waste collection costs.
I had the pleasure of meeting PLAEX’s Production Manager, John Okoro, at IFA 2023. You can find our brief chat below, edited for clarity.
Alright, so we’re standing in front of a big black bin…
Yes, this is a big black bin! Its name is Gabby, The Garbage Bin.
It automatically sorts waste, separating paper, plastic, organic or residual. So if you, for example, have paper, you can drop it in and it gets automatically sorted, without you needing to search for the right basket to drop it.
It has four internal bins. Each bin stores different types of waste. And each has an electronic sensor for when it’s full. For example, if this internal bin is full, it gives you a signal and that’s the electronic sensor (at work). The signal is displayed using an LED light. The LEDs also light in different colours depending on the type of waste.
It also has a scale which measures the amount of waste, and how heavy the waste is, and it sends it to a dashboard.
What is the dashboard?
The dashboard shows the amount of waste by type; food/organic, PMD (plastic bottles, metal packaging and drink cartons), paper and residual waste. It also shows how much savings in emissions and costs have been generated, displaying this data on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, for up to a year.
Where are you in the product cycle? Have you sold any already, are you still testing?
This is a prototype. We are a startup and working on finishing our product. The main product launch is hopefully this year.
And so you would hope to sell it to…
We are hoping to sell it to organisations, conferences, events, event centres, among others. Garby is useful, for example, for parks, event venues, airports, train stations and stadiums.
We plan to enter the luxury market in the future, so houses will also be considered as well — but not for now.
How much will it cost to buy one bin?
It costs €5,000 to purchase one bin outright, or €3,000 upfront followed by €49 a month. The finished product will be launched in the market next year.
UPDATE 4 October 2023: this article was updated with more detail on the target market for Garby.
Our coverage of sustainability
Our thanks to John for taking the time to show how Garby works. If you enjoyed this interview, here are some articles we recommend you read next.
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- Interview with Logitech’s Head of Sustainability, Robert O’Mahony
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