Digital tools are continuing to make a difference every day in all sorts of industries, and the waste industry is no stranger to digital innovation. New tools are helping companies maximize consumer interaction and education, taking further measures to inform residents about recycling as well as optimizing routes for haulers.
For some consumers, the most important aspect of digital tools is how they build trust between companies who collect waste and people who have questions on what can be thrown away.
Leticia Mendoza, director of marketing and communications at Texas Disposal Systems (TDS), moderated and served as a speaker on the Adding Value, Recycling Right: Digital Tools for Community Engagement panel at WasteExpo. Mendoza was joined by Emily Coven, founder and CEO of Recyclist, and rounding out the trio was Ryan Buhay, account executive at ReCollect Systems.
Buhay kicked off the panel to explain the benefits of ReCollect, a digital communications platform that presents complex operational data to consumers or residents to engage in a waste recycling program. Community tools like recycling information, collection schedules, or even games can help consumers take care of their waste efficiently from a mobile device or web app.
Though, the main talking point for Buhay centered around the core values that drive the creation of digital tools at ReCollect. Buhay explained that those core values are to be exceptionally user-focused, drive behavior change, be exceptionally data-driven, and - what Buhay says is the most important value - is to build trust.
“So, what a digital tool should do for you, is give you some insight into how that person is experiencing your program through their usage, rather than reading a pamphlet,” said Buhay. “Remove barriers to getting recycling information in a timely manner. … When we insert a digital solution into that workflow, it can happen quickly and easily. We can increase trust in that interaction with the consumer and get the outcome that we want to have.”
Mendoza followed up with Buhay to discuss how TDS helps its community with digital tools and how the shift to digital tools proved to be beneficial for the company. TDS previously sent out a printed calendar to its consumers. It was very costly and went against its sustainability efforts, so the switch to digital tools was an easy choice, even if it was totally new to the company at the time.
Partnering with RouteWare (ReCollect) allowed TDS to offer a digital service to customers at no additional cost and this allowed TDS to communicate with customers in many ways and boosted education in the community. However, TDS realizes that one app won’t be enough, and it must be part of a broader strategy to communicate to its customers.
“We don’t want to replace what we’re currently doing. We want to enhance what the engagement and education efforts are,” said Mendoza.
Finishing up the presentations at the panels was Coven who shifted focus from residential solutions to more commercial tools. For Recyclist, its main product is called the Program Tracker, formally known as the Commercial Outreach Tracker, which is a cloud-based recordkeeper and reporting system. One of the main takeaways about commercial outreach is targeting it is effective. Recyclist can go after the top 1% of the commercial generators in specific cities and potentially capture a third of organics in the city. While the overall amount may differ from city to city, this overall trend is true.