IoT in Mountains: A collision of tourists, bears and recycling

In the stunning mountainous landscapes of Slovak National Parks, and on the frequent tourists stops and locations, uniquely designed waste containers became smart with our smart waste management solution Vastum.

In cooperation with Elkoplast, and Deposit Return System Administrator (DRS), driven by the Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic, the whole project aims to deal with two challenges:

  • waste generated by the tourists at popular tourist and difficult-to-access natural terrains
  • cunning and dangerous bears which like visiting such locations because of the waste
bear-proof waste container in Hrebienok, High Tatras
Play Video about bear-proof waste container in Hrebienok, High Tatras

Video of deploying our smart solution at Hrebienok, High Tatras.

To address this issue and promote sustainability, seven Slovak National Parks use this innovative waste management solution.

A specially designed and certified bear-proof concrete containers from Elkoplast, powered by IoT on LPWAN with Vastum – Smart Waste Monitoring from Heliotics, and with a specifically-focused initiative in cooperation with DRS.

This system not only secures and monitors the waste containers efficiently, but also encourages tourists to participate actively in recycling efforts through the bottles and cans Deposit Return System.

In addition, Vastum is also environmentally focused as it helps decrease carbon footprint, because of its purpose – pick-up the waste only when it is necessary.

Continue reading to learn more.

Anti-bears Protection, Preserving Nature and Safety

The innovative waste containers, placed across seven Slovak National Parks, have undergone rigorous testing of an anti-bear intrusion test.

By passing the pressure test of resourceful bears in Bojnice Zoo, this type of container has become the first of its kind in Slovakia. 

Play Video

Video of bears testing the unique design of bear-proof container in the Bojnice Zoo.

How Unique are These Containers?

Protecting Environment:

  • The smell and contents of traditional waste containers often attract bears, leading to potential harm to both wildlife and tourists.
  • The specially designed bear-proof containers mitigate such risks, ensuring that the waste management process remains environmentally responsible.

Ensuring Tourist Safety:

  • Tourists flocking to mountains for hiking and thrilling experiences could encounter with bears, which could mean a fatal problem.
  • With bear-proof waste containers, the priority is the safety of the visitors and reduction of potential human-wildlife conflicts, enhancing the overall tourist experience.

Promoting Sustainability with Deposit Return System

The specially designed waste containers go beyond mere monitoring and collection.

To encourage responsible waste disposal and recycling, tourists can now directly contribute to the activities of the Slovak National Parks administration and eliminate waste in the surroundings.

Thanks to the bottle and cans DRS, revenues from the subsequent deposits will be used to support the infrastructure in national parks.

bear-proof waste container in Rohace - Spalena ski resort car park
bear-proof waste container in Dedinky, Slovak Paradise
bear-proof waste container in Trangoska, Low Tatras

The Innitiative Message to Tourists

Active Tourist Participation:

  • Tourists visiting popular locations in the Slovak National Parks not only enjoy the breathtaking scenery, but also become active participants in preserving the environment.
  • By throwing their bottles and cans in the containers, they contribute to the recycling efforts of the area.

Incentive for Recycling:

  • The deposit system acts as an incentive for tourists to recycling.
  • Being backed by a financial incentive, visitors are motivated to segregate waste and support recycling initiatives actively.
  • It creates a positive impact on the area’s ecological balance and helps promote sustainability within the nature tourist destinations.
Slovak Deposit Return System logo

Solution by Heliotics

IoT (Internet of Things) technology has emerged as a game-changer in various industries, and waste management is no exception.

In difficult-to-access and tourist popular locations, this cutting-edge technology offers a solution by employing smart sensors powered by LPWAN networks. 

In combination with our Smart Waste Monitoring solution Vastum the management of waste and its collection will be much more efficient now. 

Smart and Effective with Vastum

Traditional waste collection methods often involve cost and time-consuming manual inspections.

However, in this case our solution Vastum brings a complete waste management system:

  • waste containers are monitored remotely in real-time
  • when a certain capacity is reached, alert is triggered via our Vastum app
  • routes optimization (just-in-time approach) helps to reduce unnecessary trips for waste collection in difficult-to-access locations
  • our solution also contributes to lowering carbon emissions thanks to unnecessary car trips for picking up the trash
  • Vastum prediction algorithm helps prepare for next route schedule to make the waste management even more efficient
Vastum waste management container detail from the app

Why on LPWAN?

Hard-to-access locations in the parks pose connectivity challenges due to its remote and mountainous terrain.

However, LPWAN (a low-power wide-area network) proves to be the ideal solution:

  • Even in these challenging geographic conditions, it enables seamless communication between the sensors and the central waste management system.
  • It can easily cover huge area with great signal penetration, even through metal or concrete.
  • The LPWAN-powered devices, having a long battery lifetime, offer maintenance-free management. 
  • The solution works wireless and does not require any additional cables.

The Result is Efficient Resource Allocation

The implementation of IoT sensors allows waste management authorities to allocate resources more efficiently.

This results in cost savings and streamlined operations, maximizing the benefits to both the environment and the local community.

bear-proof waste container in Hiadelske sedlo, Low Tatras

For Every National Park and Beyond

With LPWAN-powered smart waste monitoring, the implementation of deposit return system, and the use of bear-proof containers, the solution demonstrates commitment to preserving nature, enhancing tourist safety, and promoting eco-conscious behavior.

This innovative waste containers showcase how technology and environmental responsibility can seamlessly merge to protect the beauty of nature.

By actively involving tourists in the recycling process and safeguarding both tourists and environemnt through anti-bear intrusion measures, Slovak National Parks serve as a model for other tourist destinations, even abroad.

Start Using Smart Solutions Today

If you would like to know more about this solution, or other in our portfolio, we will be glad to assist you. Feel free to contact us at

Let’s start creating smart and sustainable environment together.

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