Why are you looking at communications technology for your waste program? At ReCollect, we hear lots of different stories, and they all boil down to two factors. The two most important questions to ask yourself right at the start are: What prompted you to look at software? And, what’s going to drive the success of this project?

The Most Common Reasons to Purchase Digital Communications Technology

The most common reason for purchasing this tool is service changes. During a service change, these are the most common things you want to think about. Even if you’re not changing services, these are some things you want to think about to improve your service.

You are Planning a Change of Collection Service

A few years ago, the City of Richmond launched a new green bin collection service. This included expanding their Green Cart program to include 27,000 residents. It was a success. In just nine months, Richmond’s team got residents to recycle more than 1,360 tonnes of food scraps. For their efforts, they received the Gold Quill Award of Excellence from the International Association of Business Communicators. Now hundreds of other cities are doing the same thing. If you are planning a change in collection service, cities like Richmond, Calgary, Austin, and countless other ReCollect customers have best practices for how to keep customers up to date on their service. Changes in collection service can be challenging. While certain residents will always call you (we call these folk “frequent phoners”), certain events can create deep peaks and valleys in your call volumes. On normal days you might be able to answer all the calls quickly and easily; those days are easy to predict. But on other days, call volumes can rise exponentially. We call these the “peaks” of call volumes, and they can cause a lot of trouble.

You Want to Reduce Call Volumes

In North America, the average call to a city or county service costs $3.14 in time and resources. Some cities, though, are less efficient. It can cost up to $18 per call, and very often this important metric is not even measured. Whether they are measured or not, phone calls are expensive. It takes time for people to manage and respond to calls, and it takes a lot of resources to train employees. ReCollect products have helped hundreds of cities, counties and recycling authorities to reduce phone calls and encourage “self service” options. And, the tone of the conversations has changed. In Rockaway Township, New Jersey, for instance, resident phone calls have so drastically decreased during service changes that the Public Works department has been able to spend time and energy on providing extra helpful service to those who need it. This customer service has gone a long way to improve time management and happy residents.

You want to Reduce Contamination Rates

Some used materials are valuable, if they’re clean and properly sorted. But too often, contaminated materials end up costing more than they’re worth. Contamination can affect every part of your waste program, and the implications are significant. Time and resources are required to remove the contaminates, process them, and send them to the landfill. If the contaminants get through the recycle stream, it affects the marketability of truckloads. Residents want to recycle right, but if it often takes too much effort to figure out local guidelines, they’ll do whatever is easiest. Your job, then, is to make it simple: provide easy and up to date information about how to dispose of items. Over 50% of North Americans rely on internet searches for information about recycling guidelines. Over 21% go to local government sources, and 18% ask friends or family what to do with their waste. For an example of how one city drastically reduced contamination rates, we recommend checking out Sam Yager’s award winning method in Columbia, South Carolina. The City of Columbia focused on a particularly challenging segment of their population: transient students. In the end they found that this drastically reduced contamination rates in recycling and waste streams. Get help evaluating the needs of your communications technology. Define the success of a tool for your city to ensure ongoing funding.

Your Organization is looking to Improve Your Digital Service

Do you associate the words “trash and recycling pick-up service” with the words “delighted residents”? We do. At ReCollect, we measure how delighted residents are with their service, because it is integral to our success. Delighted residents do a lot for your bottom line: they’re more likely to listen to recycling guidelines, less likely to call in, and will be more likely to trust messages that come from you in the future. With unexpectedly good service and surprising useful tools, you can delight residents, too. If delighting residents is important to you, measure it!


In El Dorado, each household is given two vouchers for bulky item pickup. They must use these vouchers by the end of the year. So, the number of bulky item pickup requests are steady throughout the year, with minimal peaks and valleys… until December, when request volumes skyrocket. El Dorado has the hauler capacity for this request volume. But, responding to calls used to be demanding on call center resources. This is one of the many reasons that cities, counties, recycling authorities and haulers come to ReCollect for self-service technology. After exploring the two initial questions, you’ll have others. These might include:
  1. How important is resident or customer information privacy?
  2. How important is technology security?
  3. What level of control you want over the messaging and the branding?
  4. How important is accessibility?