Pakistani tech start-up hopes to tackle trash with ‘smart bin’

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Syed Shahrooz Shamim, founder and CEO of tech start up, LinkGiz, with his team and their project, smart bins, at Karachi’s Expo Center on September 17, 2019. (AN photo)
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Updated 29 September 2019

Pakistani tech start-up hopes to tackle trash with ‘smart bin’

  • A device fitted onto bins allows users to monitor trash input, disposal and prevents spread of germs
  • Special sensors transfer data to a central database that users can access through an app

KARACHI: A technology start-up in Pakistan’s southern metropolis of Karachi, a city that is among some of the world’s most polluted places, now sells a device that could modernize the management of waste disposal in the country, and it’s called a smart bin.
The company, LinkGiz, started work on the project in 2016, with manufacturing kicking off earlier this year using Internet of Things (IoT) technology, a system of interrelated computing devices that transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. The technology that comes with smart bins is already being used around the world, but has never before come to Pakistan. Though still in its early days, the company says it has sold about 60 bins.
“The smart bins are equipped with sensitive sensors and linked with a central database that allows timely dispose of the garbage,” Syed Shahrooz Shamim, founder and CEO of LinkGiz, told Arab News.
“You will know the exact quantity of the garbage, the nature (organic or inorganic) of what’s inside the bin, and... the last time waste was disposed of. It not only gives data of the garbage, but it also kills harmful germs with the use of germicides,” Shamim said.
The IoT enabled devices that cost up to Rs. 5000 ($32) and can be fitted onto bins and waste containers of any size, have arrived on the waste disposal scene in Karachi when Pakistan’s central and provincial government of Sindh are engaged in heated discourse that is being dubbed “garbage politics,” amid growing piles of waste and rising disease, in the country’s largest city of 15 million people.




The smart bin, a complete software and hardware system, displayed at Karachi’s Expo Center on September 17, 2019. (AN photo)

Though no official figures are available, it is estimated that Karachi produces 14,000 tonnes of garbage every day, with not all of it properly moved to landfill sites and the city’s leftover waste ending up in the sea.
“Around 8,000 to 10,000 tonnes of garbage is lifted from the city to designated sites while leftover garbage is thrown in the streets or in the drainage. Around 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of garbage ends up in the Arabian sea every day,” Mehmood Moulvi, an advisor to Pakistan’s maritime affairs ministry, told Arab News.
“These (figures) are nearest to the actual. No one has the accurate figures,” he said.
The smart bin is a combination of software and hardware capable of communicating with a cloud-based interface, that users can access through an app. Though not yet marketed in a mass way, it could keep municipal workers and managers informed about the volume of waste, the presence of any toxic gas from the waste, as well as give recommendations about the size of the bin customized to the amount of waste produced at a particular location, according to the device’s creators.
“It prevents the spread of viruses up to 40 percent and keeps the performance of sanitary workers in check,” Shamim said.
Presently, smart bins are being used in the National Incubation Center of NED University and Usman Institute of Technology in Karachi, where the system was first developed for Pakistan.


Soybean dust 'likely cause' of Karachi toxic gas deaths — officials

Updated 18 February 2020

Soybean dust 'likely cause' of Karachi toxic gas deaths — officials

  • 14 people have died since Sunday night, 350 have been hospitalized
  • Pakistan State Oil temporarily closes its storage terminals in Kiamari

KARACHI: Authorities on Tuesday said that soybean dust was the likely cause of toxic gas that killed 14 and left over 300 others sick in Pakistan’s portside city of Karachi since Sunday night.
“Preliminary report has been submitted by experts at Khi (Karachi) Uni (university) which suggests that Kiamari incident happened due to over exposure of soybean dust which is known to have also caused similar incidents in other parts of the world,” Murtaza Wahab, spokesperson of the Sindh government tweeted late Tuesday.
“This soybean is in a shipment docked at Khi Port,” he added.
The report by the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), which was sent to Karachi’s commissioner and is available to Arab News, read that the deaths were caused soybean dust exposure.
“The symptoms due to exposure to soybean dust (aeroallergens) may be considered as the possible cause,” the report stated, urging bronchodilator and anti-histamine treatment for the patients and extreme care while uploading soybean containers.
The report said that soybean dust exposure-related epidemics have been reported in other parts of the world with associated morbidity and mortality.

Earlier, a government source told Arab News that the incident occurred during unloading of soybeans on Saturday evening at berth 12 of Karachi Port Trust (KPT) after MV Hercules arrived from the US. The unloading created dust which made its way toward Jackson area of Karachi’s Kiamari municipality.
According to sources, MV Hercules was fumigated on Jan. 8 at Cargill grain reserve Los Angeles, US after loading onboard with 56 degree aluminum phosphide “using one of approved methods.”
The breathing of aluminum phosphide can irritate the nose, throat and lungs causing coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath whereas repeated exposure may damage the lungs, kidneys and liver. Aluminum phosphide reacts with water or moisture to release highly toxic and flammable phosphine gas, the sources said, adding that “It is likely that exposure to particles of aluminum phosphide may have created problems for individuals passing by at that time and such unfortunate incident.”
Meanwhile, health officials said the death toll from the poisonous gas leak has reached 14.
“At least 14 people have died in four different hospitals of the city,” Dr. Zafar Mehdi, spokesperson of the health department said, adding that over 350 others have been impacted and needed treatment.
Officials at Ziauddin Hospital, where most of the affected persons were brought, said they received over a hundred patients on Sunday night, of whom four died.
“There was lull during the day and then again over a hundred visited the hospital, indicating that the gas impacts go high during humidity at night,” Amir Shehzad, spokesperson of the health facility, told Arab News.
Meanwhile, spokesperson of the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) said his company had closed operations at Kiamari storage terminals.
“PSO has temporarily closed its storage terminals in the Kiamari, Karachi due to health and safety reasons. The operations on this location will resume as soon as the area is deemed safe for the company’s staff and contractors to operate.”
“There will be as such no impact of this temporary closure on supply of POL products within Karachi, and in upcountry locations. PSO has sufficient stock available, with backup supply arrangements already in place to ensure an uninterrupted supply of the POL products,” spokesperson told Arab News.