The future of sustainability and recycling makes an appearance at Malpensa Airport, Milan, Italy

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As the global economy grows exponentially and the population rises with it, the pressure human beings exert on the Earth grows as well. Just in 2020, the total waste generated in the EU by all economic activities and households amounted to 2,135 million tonnes. While the world is slowly recognising the importance of recycling, accurate waste sorting is the need of the hour to ensure efficient waste management. Wisort is a start-up with a sustainable business model, which prioritises the same principles. Our Minimum Viable Product (MVP) uses image recognition and a machine learning algorithm which enables accurate sorting at the source, while also providing quantitative and qualitative data. We are driven by the need for change for a more sustainable future for the generations to come.

To understand first-hand the impact of sophisticated and accurate waste sorting at the source and the general public’s disposition towards such an initiative, we launched a three-month experimental campaign in collaboration with Società Esercizi Aeroportuali (SEA) and Politecnico di Milano ¯ at Malpensa Airport. In this campaign, we focussed on the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) which automatically sorts waste once inserted into it. This eliminates human error that occurs with most quadri-partite bins when people are unsure as to what category their trash falls under. The central satellite of T1 of the airport was chosen as the area for the experiment as it has a heterogenous footfall of passengers. Then all that was left to do was observe and analyse.

Once the WiSort bin was installed at the airport, the initial test was to understand how the bin was perceived by the passengers and to collect feedback from them. The test was performed with two different configurations: on some days only the WiSort bin was located in point A, while on others a normal tripartite bin was put next to the WiSort bin. People using any of the two bins were directly interviewed.

After the initial observation of slight confusion, as this was something out of their habit, they noticed a general sentiment of users being happy to be the start of such an environmentally positive change. Upon interviewing the passengers, we are happy to say that most are extremely curious and asked many questions to gain a deeper understanding of the cause. They want to know the exact details and claims in order to ensure that the product is truly working towards what it claims to be. One such passenger happily claimed that "this is the future" and took pictures to share with her friends and family back in Argentina. Another happy user said, "Good for public places, not for apartment buildings as it would be too expensive…the bin makes a good impression!”.

Overall, it's extremely encouraging to see how consumers are slowly but surely gaining curiosity, asking deeper questions and learning about how their individual choices add up and help alleviate the pressure humanity is placing on the environment. Many brands will ride this wave of greenwashing but we must participate actively, research and focus on our choices to make a change. It is on us as consumers to be the face of change by showing our support to brands that truly care about the future and leaving behind a better world.


  • Environmental And Cost Analysis Of An Innovative Automatic System For Sorting Municipal Solid Waste: A Case Study At Milano Malpensa Airport by Engineer Alessandro Manea.
  • Waste statistics by the European Commission