An Italian village is installing SIM cards in its rubbish bins so that the bin men can tell whether they need emptying.

The successful experiment took place in Duino Aurisina, close to Trieste and the Slovenian border, and may be expanded to the region as a whole. The SIMs are fitted into a device the size of a one-litre milk carton which use radio control to pass on their literally rubbish messages. It was invented by Luciano Generali, an engineer with Elcon Elettronica.

"Acegas asked for a way to improve the way they collected trash, so we went to work," said Generali, the inventor of the MSD-112 to the International Herald Tribune. "The concept is actually relatively simple and not expensive to implement."

Known as the MSD-112 (Multi Service Device), it uses ultrasound to measure the bin's rubbish level when it's around 100m from an approaching truck. It can also help with route planning by relaying the information back to a central computer which works out the most efficient way to go.

Waste management

The devices have green credentials too using solar powered batteries that run up to three years. Thus far savings of around 25 per cent in petrol have been made along with an easing of congestion in the village square. While the devices cost up to £70 each – this would soon lower significantly if they were made in greater numbers.

Another useful application for the MSD-112 is as an early warning system in the event of a forest fire with the SIM configured to react with changes in temperature.