Society's use of resources is horrendously inefficient, with cities everywhere under pressure to find low-cost, scalable and sustainable solutions to rising levels of waste. The world's waste problem has reached astonishing levels: only around 1% of all raw materials used in production remain in use six months after the point of purchase, water leakage rates of 50% are not uncommon in urban distribution systems, and making it "someone else's problem" is no longer an option; starting this year Western cities must find their own solutions to dealing with the millions of tonnes of paper, cardboard, plastics and textile that China has announced it will no longer accept.
As a result of resource inefficiencies and consumer habits, the world's population currently consumes the equivalent of 1.7 planets a year – 70% more than what our natural ecosystem can renew. It seems our way of life depends on extracting materials that have taken millions of years to form, and then wasting or discarding them after a handful of uses by burying them in toxic landfills or simply dumping them on land or into the sea. Connectivity gives us the ability to use our resources much more efficiently. Smart cities, smart monitoring, and smart connections could hold the solutions to a more sustainable world. The challenge: How might we better leverage Internet of Things (IOT) to solve the growing waste problem facing cities around the world?