Small municipalities — less than 10,000 households — often wonder if they have the resources necessary to implement ReCollect, or if their residents will be receptive to using online tools. With a progressive attitude, small municipalities can efficiently reach residents and foster participation in waste diversion programs.
In this case study, staff from Beaumont, Rockaway, and North Battleford explain how they successfully implemented ReCollect in their smaller-sized communities.
“We were having trouble getting residents to keep the paper calendars we were mailing out. These calendars were often difficult to read and got thrown away as ‘junk mail’ by most residents,” said Sadie Miller, Environmental Sustainability Coordinator for the Town. “After switching to bi-weekly waste collection, we needed a better communication tool that was more easily accessible and accepted by our younger demographic.”
It was determined the effectiveness of a web app and mobile app would far outweigh any associated costs. Beaumont staff searched online for testimonies, tested out web apps on other municipal websites and spoke to references. “Our inquiry into other solid waste apps did not last long as everything from the app design and brief references were not as positive,” stated Sadie. “We didn’t hear any negative feedback about ReCollect and didn’t experience any glitches while using their apps. ReCollect’s customer service was also incredible.”
In addition, Beaumont has experienced a drastic decrease in the number of general resident calls (such as collection day inquiries) and less complaint calls regarding the complexity of the schedule. Staff find having ReCollect as a reference point makes answering questions substantially easier.
“I answer the majority of the waste-related calls, so this app has been incredible for me. I initially thought it would increase my time spent managing the solid waste program, but it has actually made everything much easier and streamlined responses to common resident inquiries. It has also helped our elected officials respond to resident concerns by enabling them to properly answer waste related questions that they would have otherwise directed to administration.”
What is Sadie’s advice for other small municipalities considering implementing ReCollect?
“Do it! The cost to mail out collection calendars – plus all the duplicate printouts after residents lose the first copy – in addition to the staff time required to process resident concerns is far greater than the annual cost to use ReCollect,” Sadie exclaimed. “Small municipalities are often afraid of complicated technology but this app is not confusing and appeals to a wide range of audiences. In our opinion, ReCollect results in lower communication costs and increased customer service.” Since partnering with ReCollect, over 83 per cent of households searched for their collection schedule, and about 80 per cent of households signed up for collection day reminders. What’s amazing is that over 90 per cent of Beaumont’s active reminders are using the mobile app!”
ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY
Rockaway Township in New Jersey is responsible for providing recycling, yard debris and bulk item collection to roughly 8,600 addresses. Prior to implementing ReCollect, Rockaway produced a recycling guide and calendar that listed municipal street names and their corresponding collection days.
Since implementing ReCollect, Rockaway has discontinued its mailed print calendar. “Our staff encourage residents to sign up for reminders. There are rare instances where a resident wants a guide mailed to them. Staff then print off the guide from ReCollect and mail it.” stated Al Knoth, the Supervisor of Garage Services and Recycling Coordinator for Rockaway Township. “That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to implement a web and mobile app. It’s just so much easier for residents, and you can more easily update information throughout the year.”
When initially investigating their options, Rockaway explored ReCollect and a competitor’s product. “ReCollect simply had more to offer,” Al shared. “Already out of the box, ReCollect was much better equipped. It was a nicer system for staff to use. ReCollect really has its act together!” Rockaway reports there have been many benefits to implementing ReCollect. “When we have a major snow storm, staff can easily send out service alerts to inform residents in impacted areas that collection has been suspended. We can update the calendars to reflect the revised collection schedule.”
“In the past, moving from a five-day schedule to a six-day schedule would have been a major communications challenge. But with ReCollect, it takes a few hours work, and our residents’ calendars and reminders adjust automatically. For our residents, it is a seamless transition. For our staff, ReCollect has caused major time savings. The benefits of ReCollect are almost endless!” explained Al. Rockaway uses an innovative “combined” web app that joins the Collection Calendar and Waste Wizard into one online tool. In addition, additional tabs have been created in the web app, so users can easily access information about drop-off depots and print resources. It’s mobile app is easy to download from Rockaway’s website and the app stores.
Since partnering with ReCollect, over 93 per cent of serviced households have searched for their collection schedule and over 35,000 materials have been searched in the Waste Wizard!
NORTH BATTLEFORD, SASKATCHEWAN
Located about an hour and a half from the nearest city, the City of North Battleford, Saskatchewan services about 4,900 households.
A few years ago, North Battleford introduced major program changes to its waste collection programs. Prior to the changes, residents used communal garbage dumpsters located in back alleys, and took their recycling to one of three recycling drop-off locations. The changes introduced curbside, bi-weekly alternating collection of garbage and recycling carts. “Because residents had been using communal garbage dumpsters, they didn’t need to know their collection day,” said Tammy MacCormack, Environmental Manager for the City. “By switching to curbside collection, residents needed to know when materials were being collected. Implementing ReCollect was seen as a better option to having to produce printed calendars every year.”
North Battleford staff spoke to other communities that were using different online products and learned what they liked and didn’t like. “We chose ReCollect because it could provide collection day reminders via phone call. We have many seniors in our community that use landline phones,” stated Tammy.
“With ReCollect’s campaign feature, we’ve been able to remind more residents about household hazardous waste events. Similarly, a new leaf collection program was implemented and we were easily able to provide the required information to residents,” explained Tammy. To generate the collection day zones, North Battleford had its collection contractor outline routes on a map. ReCollect staff reproduced them, and together zone boundaries were fine tuned as any issues arose. ReCollect has also taken quite a bit of pressure off of staff. “In fact, it’s as good as having another staff person!” shared Tammy.
“Residents are happy with ReCollect,” said Tammy. “Residents like the reminders about bi-weekly alternating collection, especially with holiday delays.” Since partnering in 2014, over 98 per cent of households have searched for their collection schedule in ReCollect! This is a reflection of the introduction of new curbside collection programs. Over 35 per cent of households have also printed off a PDF of their personalized collection schedule.
Small municipalities tend to have smaller staff complements and tighter budgets. As a result, there are often understandable barriers to effectively communicating with residents on an on-going basis. Either to support a waste collection program change, or as a replacement for an existing, costly print calendar, smaller municipalities can look to ReCollect as a way to increase their education and engagement. Implementing ReCollect can bring about many benefits including enhanced communications, ongoing resident engagement, cost savings, and improved customer satisfaction. And that’s something all municipalities — small and large — can appreciate.
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