20 ways to manage municipal waste more effectively in 2020

2020 marks the start of a new year and a new decade. It’s a great opportunity for local authorities to assess how well your essential services are functioning, in order to put new initiatives in place to innovate your services over the next 10 years.

If you’re involved in waste management, we’ve put together 20 top tips to help you look at your department with fresh eyes, and create a foundation for improvement in 2020 and beyond… 

1. Set clear refuse collection policies

 A strong framework is critical to setting clear expectations for the year ahead, so that colleagues, collection crews and local communities know exactly what refuse will be collected and when.

Think carefully about how to communicate these policies to residents, so they can check whether guidelines are being met throughout the year, in order to build a trusting relationship.

2. Encourage people to recycle more 

Local authorities have a duty of care to not only educate households on effective waste disposal, but to promote recycling where possible. This starts with explaining to residents exactly what materials can be recycled and when.

The easier your recycling policies are to follow, the better uptake you will get in your local area. Consistency is key; recyclable goods should be collected on the same weekly or bi-weekly day, so that households get into the habit of putting the right refuse out for collection. 

3. Introduce new marketing initiatives  

Tying into recycling initiatives, it’s important to think about how your waste management strategy converts into marketing activities, in order to ensure investment drives results.

Consider your key goals for the year ahead, and craft marketing campaigns around them. For example, if your top objective is to increase recycling rates by 25%, then your marketing focus could be around practical suggestions to help households recycle more materials. 

4. Digitally engage with local residents

Many local authorities still rely on paper communications to manage waste, but online initiatives can do a better job of updating the community on refuse collection activities.

One effective way to digitally engage people is introducing a resident mobile app, which enables households to look up your policies, check when their next bin collection is taking place, and leave feedback on the service being provided. 

5. Create a two-way information flow 

Mobile apps are not only an effective method for reaching residents; they encourage the kind of two-way feedback needed to improve your services.

Local residents are the people whose opinions matter most, as they judge the quality of your waste management operation. There may be small issues that your central team is unaware of, which can be easily fixed if residents have the means to report them. 

6. Find waste management ambassadors within the community 

Mobilising neighbourhoods to manage their waste effectively doesn’t have to just be driven by authority officials. There are often natural advocates within the community, who can act as official ambassadors to support your campaigns.

In 2020, use your new mobile app to search for waste management or streets and environment ambassadors, who can help you to improve collection services and recycling uptake. Many people will happily take on this role voluntarily, if it makes the neighbourhood a nicer place to live. 

7. Shout about your successes 

It’s very easy for local authorities to get caught up in negative stories and community complaints.

If an improved approach to waste management yields successes in your area, make sure you communicate it to residents, and thank people for their role in improving local services. Positivity breeds positivity. 

8. Learn from complaints and show residents you’re listening 

We’ve talked about the value of two-way feedback, but merely creating a channel for comment isn’t enough. To truly innovate waste management services, you need to learn from what local residents have to say and create an action plan based on the points raised.

It’s also important to report back on these actions, to make sure that residents realise you are listening to their feedback and making changes.

9.  Get a complete, clear overview of all activities 

Understanding what the community wants from their refuse collection service is paramount, but local authorities can only respond effectively to this feedback if you have a complete overview of all your waste management activities.

Many teams struggle to achieve this overview currently, because staff are operating varied systems and processes. Centralising all workflows through municipal waste management technology is the simplest, easiest way to work holistically, making effective strategic decisions in 2020 and beyond.

10. Get all team members working from the same system

Integrating all waste management activities through a central technology platform is fundamental to creating a smooth-running operation, yet the success of any tech investment relies on all team members using that software effectively.

If you’re upgrading to municipal waste management technology in 2020, don’t forget to map out exactly who will need to be trained on the system, helping everyone get to grips with the platform quickly.

11. Analyse your current waste management workflows 

One of the most powerful aspects of waste management software is the data insights it reveals about your operation.

Channelling everything through one platform reveals immediate issues with current workflows that can easily be amended and improved for a better-functioning refuse collection system.

12. Go paperless 

The importance of sustainability has increased significantly in the past few years and local authorities will be under pressure to enhance your eco-friendly credentials in 2020.

One of the ways you can do this in waste management is to digitise your operation with online software, reducing the amount of paperwork required to keep collections running smoothly.

13. Streamline collection logistics 

Following on from a paperless approach, think carefully about how central decisions impact logistics in the field.

For example, increased data on refuse volumes will tell you exactly how many trucks are needed to collect rubbish week-on-week. You may be able to reduce the number of collection crews on duty some weeks as a result, cutting your carbon footprint while saving costs.

14. Form closer connections with crews 

With fewer crews potentially on duty in 2020, the relationship you build with field-based workers will be very important to ensure a seamless operation.

Your central waste management team needs to communicate information in real-time, so ad-hoc requirements are dealt with alongside regular duties. To achieve this, you need a system in place for gathering feedback, which also allows crews to report problems encountered en route.

15. Upgrade your in-cab technology 

To make communication with collection crews easier, local authorities may need to look more closely at your in-cab technology in the year ahead.

Best-in-class mobile applications digitise the relationship between central staff and teams in the field, empowering crews to receive work on the go, co-ordinate vehicle checks, capture evidence of exceptions and navigate to job locations.

16. Respond quickly to incidents 

Improving in-cab technology not only enhances crew communications, it also improves the way waste management teams respond to unforeseen circumstances.

For example, if collection crews report incidents like missed collections and fly tipping in real-time, response strategies to be formulated immediately. This seamless reaction process shows residents that you are committed to optimising waste management services, making sure the neighbourhood is a nice place to live.

17. Put plans in place for peak waste periods 

While technology can enable better responses to ad-hoc issues, it’s important that your waste management team also uses software to look ahead to periods where refuse volumes may surge peak in 2020.

Regular calendar event such as Easter, Christmas and Bank Holidays can play havoc with collection days and cause a rubbish surplus, which often takes weeks to clear. Understanding the likely impact ahead of time will enable your team to create mitigating plans, and stop black bags mounting up on the kerbside.

18. Regularly report on your performance 

If you’re dedicated to making positive changes in the year ahead, an essential objective for 2020 should be to report regularly on your waste management performance, and then share your successes with management colleagues.

The quickest way to get buy-in on future marketing campaigns, policy changes and technology investment is to show return on investment (ROI) – and with the right public sector waste management software, the reporting tools needed to demonstrate ROI will be at your fingertips. 

19. Look at where budget can be spent more efficiently 

On the subject of ROI, effective reporting systems will show your waste management team what investment is making a difference – and what isn’t – to ensure budget is allocated wisely.

Rather than getting to the year-end and realising that certain resources haven’t helped you to reach your targets, you can use technology to continuously measure performance, making strategic changes where required.

20. Invest in waste management software 

Many of the tips we’ve discussed in this blog post involve the use of technology, and that’s with good reason: it’s the simplest, most-effective way to transform your waste management services.

Talented, well-organised teams can only optimise refuse collections so far; to be truly innovative, you need a digital platform that can centralise activities, integrate data, coordinate teams in any location, and enable real-time decisions.

Budgets will continue to be tight in 2020, so the natural urge for local authorities is to shy away from investing in new technology. However, the operational and financial savings made from tech-based improvements will ensure your waste management team is running at top-flight performance over the next 12 months – and beyond. 

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