Data Is the Missing Link in Municipal Waste Management

The City of Atlanta is learning to harness data to drive operational and environmental goals.

Credit: Rubicon Global

Sponsored Content from Rubicon Global

Today’s on-demand culture places pressure on businesses to deliver better services in less time, and for fewer dollars. While this is nothing new to the private sector, increasingly public services are being asked to do the same. Governments are responding by developing smart solutions that integrate data and technology to improve efficiencies and meet citizen demands. Yet, municipal waste and recycling is often left behind as other government functions move into the era of data and analytics, which enables better, faster, and cheaper services.

Municipal waste management challenges are two-fold: deliver continuous improvement without increasing the budget. Citizens are increasingly demanding cleaner air and purer water—meaning landfills have become a liability, not an asset, and city leaders are being challenged to make decisions that move us closer to a future where landfills are no longer a part of our communities. At the same time, city leaders are also being forced to do more with less. With constrained budgets, municipal waste management hinges on operational efficiency.

Public works departments simply can’t afford to be left out of the smart cities movement. But by shifting to a data-enabled model, public works can start to achieve greater operational efficiency, gather greater intelligence for policy making, and develop a greater sense of purpose and stewardship.

A New Public-Private Partnership
The City of Atlanta recently engaged Rubicon Global to bring its public works department squarely into the 21st Century smart cities movement. This first-of-its-kind partnership will equip Atlanta’s entire fleet with the Rubicon app, allowing haulers to track routes and monitor when pickups occur. Once armed with the right data and insights, the City and its dedicated team of experts from Rubicon will be able to make route adjustments to maximize driver hours and reduce costs. This cutting-edge suite of new services will enhance operational efficiency, improve customer service, and ensure a consistent level of service citywide.

The insights gathered by Rubicon go beyond route analytics and pickup rates. Our partnership with the City of Atlanta will also provide valuable planning data for the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, most notably by enabling real-time information on current landfill diversion and recycling rates in support of the City’s zero-waste efforts.

Equipped with an established baseline of landfill diversion and recycling rates for the first time, City officials will be able to better understand how to target recycling education efforts. By pinpointing specific neighborhoods that have lagging recycling rates, the City will now be able to focus its efforts in the most efficient and effective ways possible. These sorts of data points will help to positively impact Atlanta’s standing in various sustainability and resiliency indices, as well as open up new grant opportunities for additional efforts.

The City of Atlanta will have access to innumerable real-time data sets, ranging from mileage and transit times to weight ticket information to container management, all available through an easy-to-use and customized Web portal. The 6-month pilot will reach all 96,000+ households within the City limits.

A Market-Based Approach to Data
The Rubicon platform is already being used by approximately 5,000 independent waste and recycling haulers nationwide, servicing thousands of small business customers and large enterprises, such as Wegmans and 7-Eleven. The Rubicon team is therefore able to apply learnings from its commercial business to help city solid waste managers realize environmental and operational benefits, just as it has been doing with its commercial customers for years.

The difference is in our data. Using technology and verified analytics, we’ve built a transparent and market-based approach to sustainable waste solutions. We are leading the way in gathering waste data that has never before been available, like accurate landfill diversion rates and GHG emissions avoidance from waste and recycling activities.

Our vision for the future is big: zero-waste cities and a fully circular economy, which means diverting more waste from landfills. The average diversion rate for the leading landfill companies is in the single to low double-digits at best. Our current diversion rate is more than three times that amount. With our technology platform, we are forcing industry incumbents to rethink how they deal with trash and now we are poised to do the same for cities.

Collaborate With Us for a Smart, Sustainable Future
All levels of government are moving toward smarter solutions based on data and analytics, transparency, technology deployment, and greater connectivity. We’re proud to have created a product that allows public works departments to not only join, but also to lead the smart cities movement. We’re looking for more city partners and would love to collaborate with you and your city.

Over the next six months, we will be onboarding new cities across the nation. If you are interested in joining the Rubicon municipal pilot program, please reach out to me directly. I’d love to discuss how we can accelerate your city’s leadership and demonstrate the power of technology to improve the residential waste and recycling system.  MSW_bug_web

Comments
  • David H Swirsky.

    Been in recycling 40 years had a plant in Atlanta. Have ideas & methods on recycling & environmental cleanup

    Reply

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