By Sharon Atieno

In a bid to curb the littering menace in urban areas, county governments have been installing bins in major urban areas across Kenya.

Last year alone, Nairobi County was set to procure around 150 metallic garbage bins to distribute to different strategic points within the county.

However, maintenance of these bins is sometimes challenging and it is not rare to find some of them full to the brim with some waste hanging loosely.

An almost full bin in one of Nairobi’s streets

Students from Siaya Institute of Technology have come up with a solution to help in managing the bins by sending an alert to notify the people in charge that the bins are full.

Showcasing their invention at the 2019 National science and technology exhibition week, Elvins Odhiambo, the inventor, pointed out that the purpose of the project was to help with collection of the waste.

“We came up with the project to help in waste management to enable the authorities in charge to access the bins at the right time and manage the collection,” he says.

The project works in such a manner that when the waste are placed in the bin, the springs holding the bin in place are lowered. When the springs become overwhelmed with the weight of the bin, it makes contact with the button at the bottom which activates the control unit.

The control unit sends a message to the authorized number notifying them that a bin is full. The message also contains a google map link which is real time, showing the exact location.

“This invention is time saving as instead of moving from one bin to another to check which bin is full, it shows you the specific bin and its location,” he says.

Elvins and Roseanne demonstrating their invention

“The alarm attached to the invention comes in handy not only to the normal users but also the blind as the ringing notifies the user that the bin is full and are limited to use it at that moment.”

The bins in the invention can also be customized to fit different type of waste whether heavy, medium or light and uses varied spring constants depending on the type of waste.

Moreover, the message is sent continuously until the bin is emptied. Though this is on a positive note, it can also be a nuisance.

“The alarm might also be a nuisance as it will keep on ringing until the bin is emptied,” Roseanne Adhiambo, the co-inventor states.

In addition, she notes that management of the invention requires technical know-how especially during the setting up at first installment and resetting of the control unit. Also, the first installation will require high capital investment.

Timely collection of waste ensures that the environment remains clean and also reduces pollution which may result to health complications.

Being that science and technology is the key to development, promoting such inventions through market linkages would not only boost the morale of the youth and encourage them to tap in to their creativity and provide local solutions to local problems; but it would also increase uptake of  science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses at higher learning institutions.

If scaled up, this invention would not only reduce laxity of environmental authorities but would also create employment for youths who will be in charge of handling installation and time to time maintenance.