For many years, Ohio spent a lot of money procuring its solid waste removal services directly from local haulers, one pickup location at a time. With 88 counties, more than 600 locations with approximately 2,000 waste containers and over 31,000 annual waste pickups, the State of Ohio realized it needed to come up with a more cost-efficient way to manage its waste and recycling services.
In 2013, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (ODAS) began discussing a unifying its efforts to better manage the waste and recycling needs for the entire state. The goals included reduced costs, increased service reliability and the ability to collect useful data to make informed decisions in the future. ODAS decided that the best way to implement these efforts would be to go through a third-party service provider. After much consideration, ODAS selected Ohio-based manage service provider Elytus Ltd. as its MSA.
“Elytus pledged to preserve the talent of our people, resources of our environment and the dollars in our budget,” said Ohio Department of Administrative Services Assistant Director Randall Howard in his article “Managing Solid Waste Services Saves Ohio a Landfill Full of Cash,” which ran in Government Procurement magazine, which is owned by Penton, the parent company of Waste360. “Selection filters for identifying available and appropriate waste haulers were also structured to assure that local and small companies could compete effectively with the large, national companies.”
Elytus originally supplied its web-based platform WINstream to brokers and national accounts before phasing that process out and going directly to the end users. WINstream was created to help industries like the State of Ohio and large chains manage their waste and recycling programs, from procurement to payment.
“This platform was something we implemented in early 2015 for the State of Ohio that they never had before,” says Elytus President Matthew Hollis. “We were in the top five in the Cronin Awards, and this is the first time a system like this has ever been implemented in a state government.”
WINstream is equipped with a RFP module so users can load information into the system. For example, users can set up their dumpsters, compactors, frequencies, material pipes, etc., which allows them to keep and manage their information in one place. The module also has a database of several thousand solid waste haulers, and all of those haulers can complete within the RFP.
WINstream also allows users to submit quotes specific to the services that they are looking for. The module then analyzes the information and makes recommendations based on the user’s goals.
“If they want to get to zero waste, for example, we can setup their targets and goals by container and establish the benchmark diversion rate that they are at currently,” says Hollis. “We also have professional services like consulting that they can add onto their software package.”
Once decisions have been made, Elytus helps the user put contracts in place. Those contracts are then stored in the system for users to access at any time. WINstream also predicts what the bills will be and then audits, consolidates and sends the bill to the entity pre-coded in the accounting package. The bill is then sent back out and payment is issued to the vendors.
“The State of Ohio previously relied on vendors to solely bill them so they audited the bills against the contracts that were in place,” says Hollis. “Whether or not that data was accurate to what was onsite is another story. The system is able to store photos, site maps, contracts, work orders, tracking, etc. so the state has a database of PDFs of every invoice throughout the entire state of Ohio, and they can now aggregate that data to run reports statewide, which they never had the ability to do before.”
Since the platform is web-based, Elytus is constantly making upgrades and rolling out new features. “We have developments planned for the next several quarters, and we are able to collect requests from our 47 national chains in thousands of locations and release those requests to everyone. The more people who use it and the longer they use it, the smarter it gets.”
To begin the implementation of the new system, the State of Ohio linked up locations with their most economic hauling companies to ensure that the container services were the appropriate size for each location.
Currently, the state is collecting data at each location. In terms of volume and aggregating that data, the state is able to show what kind volumes each material is seeing. The data may also be used to maximize the state’s recycling opportunities and to explore new ways to curb some of the waste.
“I know we are saving at least a million dollars a year now relative to what we were previously spending on these exact services,” says Howard. “It may continue to grow in percentage of savings, but right now if we were able to cut a $5-million annual expenditure for the waste hauling services down to well under $4 million, I am pretty happy.”
Although the new system has provided many benefits to the State of Ohio, the state has come across a couple major challenges.
“The worst of the growing pains that I became aware of is some of our state parks had seasonal events that were out of sync with the normal park usage that you would expect throughout the year,” says Howard. “We had to try and stay on top of when those events actually occurred so the local waste haulers could be sure that the waste receptacles in the parks were properly emptied before and after the events. This was especially difficult because most of the park hauling activities was significantly reduced and some even suspended for the winter months.”
In addition to keeping up with seasonal activities, the state also had to keep an eye out for residents who fill park dumpsters with their personal trash and recyclables.
“This new system is a way to maintain an awareness of when that is happening so the park service personnel can point the issue out to us or the waste hauler,” says Howard.
The State of Ohio has addressed these issues and is working toward avoiding instances like residential trash dumping and reduced pickups during the seasonal months.
In the near future, the system will also be made available to any state political subdivision, municipality, county, township and higher-learning institution that join the state’s corporative purchasing program.
“The more the merrier I like to say,” says Howard.