A year after implementing them, Scottsbluff is smashing the goals set out for its digital waste collection tools.
The Scottsbluff public works service used to be inundated with calls and messages around the holidays regarding trash and recycling collection times.
They wanted to ensure schedule changes were easily accessible.
“We had issues of getting that message out to the public,” deputy public works director Jordan Diedrich said. “We needed something more direct, more personalized.”
After bringing it up at meetings, Diedrich convinced the city to work with ReCollect, a Canadian company specializing in recycling-focused communications technology.
“There’s not a lot of upkeep or maintenance,” Diedrich said. “We kind of let ReCollect do its thing.”
The service began in Scottsbluff in August 2020.
The city has implemented several ReCollect tools to improve their trash and recycling services since then.
Chief among those is the Collection Calendar, a personalized message system that reminds users when their waste will be collected. It also allows users to pay their trash bills and request services.
Another tool is the Waste Wizard, which the city renamed to the Recycling Directory to be more straightforward.
This lets users learn where and how to properly dispose of various materials.
“You can type in cardboard or glass, and it tells you what, locally, you can do to get rid of that,” Diedrich said.
Such a service helped the city meet its goal of reducing bin contamination and curbing illegal dumping.
“It’s not horrible in our city but we do have people dumping things in places where they shouldn’t,” Diedrich said.
The digital tools also allow for localized service alerts to keep users aware of any collection changes, be they holiday-related or otherwise.
“We’ve had some times where a truck has broken down,” Diedrich said. “So we’ve ... sent out a message to people in that area who have this service to tell them to put their cans out the next day.”
ReCollect also offers educational tools for children which Diedrich said the city could implement in the future.
The program currently services around 750 of Scottsbluff’s 8,802 residential and business addresses, or approximately 8.5%.
That’s an increase from 6% of addresses in the last three months alone.
“The way I look at it is, those are the people who really needed it,” Diedrich said.
He added there seems to be large boosts in subscriptions around holidays.
Scottsbluff was the first, and is currently the only, city in Nebraska to implement the ReCollect tools.
Other notable cities to do so include Denver and Atlanta.
“I hope more cities in Nebraska follow our lead,” Diedrich said.
Now, he said, when the public works department receives calls, they’re usually from thankful residents instead of angry or confused ones.
That was one goal they especially wanted to achieve.
“It’s freed up a lot of time for our administrative assistant to focus on improving operations,” he said. “Now we have better, more positive interactions with our citizens.”
Interested residents can go to scottsbluff.org/recycle to learn more.