Recycling decommissioned in-field devices in the water sector

Water utilities have the potential to play a significant role in the move to a circular economy, with many already making positive strides in water reuse, energy management and biosolids. Another factor that can make a major difference to the amount of waste produced is having plans in place for when in-field devices – such as digital meters and monitoring solutions – reach the end of their useful life.

Iota, the commercial arm of South East Water, is partnering with local recycling group eWastec to ensure its solutions can be recycled responsibly.

eWastec has confirmed that 98 per cent of Iota’s OneBox® device can be recycled, as well as 100 per cent of its digital meter materials.

OneBox® is a low pressure sewer solution that monitors and controls the wastewater levels inside storage tanks and releases contents into the sewer network, allowing for smooth flows throughout the day.

Eamon Casey, Technical Director at Iota, said this new recycling partnership sees the company taking a proactive approach.

“We haven’t sent any devices to landfill yet because we have only had solutions out in the field for eight years so the number of returns that we haven’t rebirthed is relatively small at this stage, but it will grow over time.

“We wanted to find a partner that could cost-effectively recycle as much of the OneBox® as possible. It’s really a long-term model,” Mr Casey said.

All of Iota’s solutions support utilities to proactively manage their water and wastewater networks, including tracking usage, finding and fixing water leaks quickly, and network optimisation, so sustainability is a key focus throughout.

“One of the drivers of South East Water – Iota’s parent company – is creating solutions for the water sector that don’t cost the earth. It’s absolutely core to our values that we’re sustainable and because we design and manufacture the solutions, we also want to make sure that at end-of-life, we are responsible,” Mr Casey said.

There is currently no regulatory requirement for utilities to have a recycling plan in place for all of their decommissioned products, but with sustainability and resilience now a key focus for water reform, including in recent industry reports such as the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan, it looks to be the way forward.

“This is voluntary on our part, but it is consistent with our vision and is the responsible thing to do,” Mr Casey said.

Iota will send its first shipment of end-of-life OneBox® devices to eWastec this quarter, where 98 per cent of each product will be recycled.

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Sustainability

Water Utility ChallengesDigital Utility LeversLentic® Enablers
Water scarcity from climate change and population growthIncrease digital monitoring of water value chain to improve water quality and reduce environmental impact.Enable an integrated ecosystem that leverages machine intelligence.
Meet and exceed environmental regulatory requirementsReduce water wastage by identifying network leaksEnhance data quality and quantity to support regulatory reporting and transparency.

Customers

Water Utility ChallengesDigital Utility LeversLentic® Enablers
Rising customer expectationsProvide customers with relevant on-demand insights through preferred channels, enabling better service experiences.Built-in domain knowledge delivers on-demand customizable insights to customers.
AffordabilityReduce water services costs through innovative demand management and enhanced operational efficiency.Support automation of key business processes to enhance customer service delivery and reduce demand.

Assets

Water Utility ChallengesDigital Utility LeversLentic® Enablers
Optimise asset life and reduce operating costsVisualise performance and manage asset lifecycle in real time while reducing the need to fund additional infrastructure.Domain rules applied to predict unknown disruption across asserts, by providing high volume of data.
Reduce non-revenue water lossesAutomate identification of network leaks to enable rapid and cost-effective fault resolution.Enable integration of field device data across enterprise systems to manage utility response to network leaks and faults.
Protect asset securityProvide a safe and resilient operating environment reducing cyber risks to critical infrastructure.Security policy and controls are in place to support continuous monitoring efforts in line with ISO0227001