Digital Solutions to Illegal Dumping

Special Collection Graphic

Is your municipality dealing with heavy call volume with questions or collections requests? Is illegal dumping a challenge in your area (where isn’t it!)? If so, a digital communications tool will likely be a part of the puzzle you need to solve.

Today, we’ll introduce you to our Special Collection product. And, more importantly, talk about how it can help your program and the people in your municipality.

Special Collection Graphic

Why did we build the Special Collection tool?

At its core, this product helps people self-serve their pickup requests. In doing so, it creates a ripple effect of advantages for the people using the product and the places they live.

As Recollect’s Product Marketing Manager Tim Adkins explains, “We always aim to make it easier for people to do the right thing. And that is why we’ve built the Special Collection tool.”

He adds:

“Since the pandemic began, we’ve heard about big increases in residential garbage everywhere, and cities and counties and haulers everywhere have had to adapt. This includes hazardous waste and bulky items, and what happens when information isn’t readily accessible is that these materials all too often end up in the streams and parks and public places that everyone wants to enjoy.”

While society is opening up again, expectations of service and trash collection might have changed forever. And one of the exciting knock-on effects of Special Collection is that it can help keep our living environment clean for everyone.


Reducing illegal dumping

Implementing a dedicated program for collection of bulky/extra trash requires resources. But illegal dumping if anything is even more costly in terms of both money and time. Yet, even with enforcement in place, people will continue to dump illegally. According to a variety of research, it’s the lack of proper disposal methods and the inconvenience of alternative options which leads to illegal dumping. 

“From what we’ve heard elsewhere, you put something on the curbside for collection, and what happens is that it’s like a magnet for all the other trash in the neighborhood,” says Tim. “People just assume it’s going to get picked up and it becomes a major problem. We’ve heard and spoken to cities where they’re sending trucks out just going up and down every single street looking for bulky items. But making it illegal doesn’t mean it won’t happen.”

Despite these issues, most people want to do the right thing. So, what do they usually do when it comes to materials that aren’t collected at curbside, or they’re not sure? That’s usually when they go online to find the answer. Our Waste Wizard is already helping people dispose of regular items. For those items that require a service request, the Wizard links to our Special Collection tool. Use of our Special Collections tool reduces illegal dumping by making bulky and unique item requests easier for people to make, and the easier it is to deal with these items, the more likely people will do so correctly. It changes the dynamic from running a risk of getting a fine, to being a responsible citizen and neighbor.


Reduce confusion

Making it as straightforward as possible for people to organize pickup for special items is great for the environment and helps reduce confusion and frustration. And as it turns out, confusion about what items are accepted and where they should go is one of the main reasons people don’t participate in recycling programs.

With our Special Collection product, people can quickly see:

  • What items are accepted
  • How to request a pickup
  • When their item will be collected


…All without making a call. And this tool doesn’t only reduce confusion for residents.

“This tool empowers your organization to know exactly what they should be collecting, from where, and when.” – Tim Adkins, Product Marketing Manager


Lower call volumes

Speaking of phone calls, when your department is bogged down with phone calls about collections, it takes away from time that could be spent on other essential tasks. Special Collection helps by reducing the strain on your customer service department, lowering call volumes overall when people can help themselves directly. And let’s face it — most people are eager to skip a phone call—if they even have time for that choice—where an alternative exists.


Online payments help you capture revenue

With the Special Collection product, your municipality can accept online payments, which is a convenient and effective way to offset program costs while building increased program participation. This is a game-changer when it comes to capturing revenue, as Tim states:

“This tool is part of the initiative and movement of people moving towards mobile technology, and these digital tools and technology like the photo capability of our app provide a real advantage to our customers, helping them to know exactly what they need to pick up.”


Speaking of revenue…

Managing a growing business or city can be a challenging task. With growth comes new headaches, costs, and decisions. “There are municipalities growing very fast, and that has consequences. Do we have to hire an extra CSR every time the city grows by X%?” says Tim.

Our pricing has been going up because our customers recognize there is a huge return on these tools. The Special Collections tool is designed to curb illegal dumping, and simplify the collection process, while saving on gas and labor hours.

“There’s a more efficient way to do this,” says Tim, “so on top of everything else we have fuel prices going through the roof, gas prices going through the roof, so you can look at the economy, the mileage on your average truck. What does this mean for your monthly cost? Everybody’s looking for operational efficiencies, and better organization is one way that we can get closer to that point of delivering a more cost-effective service for taxpayers, for customers, and to help haulers be more profitable or competitive. Digital tools can not only help lower the external cost that society must bear of illegal dumping, but also increase the responsibility and accountability in this waste generation. As well, we’ve observed customers enjoying immense ROI with the Special Collections tool. It’s usually a no brainer for them, and that’s even before calculating all the costs associated with more efficient operations—time, gas, and labor saved. For haulers, it’s really about realizing revenue and operating leverage.”


Photo captures and uploads

We’re talking to our customers all the time about how we can further improve our tools in helping them achieve their objectives. One challenge we uncovered for some of them has been recognizing the gap between reality and the material described on the phone or in a web form. That’s why we added photo upload capability.

“If there’s a dispute between you and the customer, you’re in the wrong as the customer is always right – unless you can prove otherwise with photo capability.” – Tim Adkins

Relatedly, photo capture and upload capabilities are used elsewhere in our mobile app technology to conduct curbside (lidflipping) audits in real-time with less effort and greater accuracy. Learn more about our curbside audit software here.

What our customers are saying

Don’t just take our word for it, listen to what happy customers such as Cambridge, MA and Sunnyvale, California have said:

Their tools have “been in place for so long that … it’s just part of our family now. We just rely on this tool; we know it’s there. I’m glad we have it.”– Karen Gissibl, Environmental Programs Manager.

After implementing ReCollect’s Special Collection tool, a significant increase in requests for bulky item collection were more than offset by use in the digital tool. While those requests increased 64.34% from 2017 to 2020, call volume decreased 3.56% over the same period.

Special Collection: Key Features

You know what it is and some of the benefits of the Special Collection product. But now, it’s time to talk more about the unique features that make the Special Collection tool what it is. 

  • A user-friendly self-service makes requesting a pickup, canceling, or modifying an appointment easy.
  • Accepting online payments to offset program costs.
  • Detailed information about what items are accepted and how to request a pickup.
  • A streamlined process that reduces confusion and frustration for people.
  • Special Collection can be tailored to your unique program to make it work for you.
  • It comes with simple dispatch reports that let you track upcoming collections, including address information and what will be collected.
  • Special Collection is custom branded. It has YOUR name on it, not ours.

“There are two trends here. There’s the trend towards making it easier with mobile technology, but also better communication, increasing value to taxpayers and customers, through more efficient handling of different materials,” says Tim.

These are just a few of the exciting benefits that make Special Collection a valuable tool for you and your team. Learn even more here

To discuss how Special Collection and our complete digital suite of tools can help you, Let’s Talk!♻️


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