The real reason some McDonald's are putting cameras in their dumpsters

McDonald's has joined other corporate giants like Nordstrom by putting cameras in their dumpsters and the reason couldn't be more awesome. Yes, it sounds a little weird and brings up some creepy people-watching vibes but don't worry – these cameras are strictly focused on the trash. These cameras are placed to help understand how companies are creating trash and managing recycling, as well as how these habits can be improved. The process provides data to help manage costs as well as environmental impact. 

The idea of monitoring comes from the realization that as a culture, we aren't as good at recycling as we think we are. "We've found that most businesses and people have the right intentions about recycling, but oftentimes they just don't know what the proper way to recycle is," says Jason Gates, CEO of Compology (via CNN). The Compology cameras take multiple pictures daily and also when the dumpster or industrial waste container is lifted for trash pickup. These images are then run through a smart AI system that helps identify trends, including areas of improvement.

Compology wants to help corporations recycle better

According to Gates, most companies see a significant result, with up to an 80 percent reduction in the disposal of non-recyclable materials in the waste containers. For example, the monitoring system analyzed McDonald's waste in Las Vegas. "Once we saw the bags of trash go inside the cardboard containers, we sent a notification to the people on site via text message, letting them know that they should remove it before the truck comes the next morning and telling them that putting trash in the recycling container is a form of contamination, which they should not do in the future," Gates said (via CNN). 

Another success story is Waste Management of the Pacific Northwest, which saw a 60 percent reduction in recycling contaminants after implementing this program (via Compology). The AI camera helped the organization pinpoint six distinct kinds of contamination in organics streams, recycling, and waste. Using technology to increase productivity as well as better manage waste is just awesome. We look forward to seeing what Compology comes up with next and applaud these organizations working to do better.