Bringing Collection Back In-House: Weslaco’s Story

When contracted haulers can’t keep up their end of the bargain, rather than look for a new business to take over, some cities take trash and recycling collection into their own hands.

Such was the case in Weslaco, Texas, where lags in service were leaving folks feeling frustrated. So when the City’s collection contract ended, they had a choice to make. Leaders decided to place their bets on Public Works — and the bet is paying off.

“This is all about accountability and efficiency,” said Richard Madrigal, Solid Waste Administrative Analyst with the City, speaking about Weslaco’s return to in-house management of waste and recycling collection.

In January 2022, the migrated its twice-weekly trash collection program in-house with a fresh, six-vehicle fleet, new routes and carts, an updated collection schedule, and a stable of newly minted solid waste drivers.

“With the previous contractor, our service wasn’t always as responsive or as attentive to detail as we wanted. Since we took over, we can go back and provide the service to residents if we miss a collection, but we also have the documentation that prevents go-backs if we were there. There are tons of cases where drivers take a picture, and we don’t have to go back,” Madrigal said.

The City used route optimization software from Routeware to design new collection routes, then implemented Routeware back-office software and onboard computers to help drivers learn the new routes and become more efficient and effective in their work.

Despite changes to collection days, which were initially met with questions, Waco citizens are now happier with their service because it’s dependable and consistent. Bringing service in-house also has enhanced transparency: People know how much collection costs and why. And with Routeware, there’s also transparency between the drivers on the street and the customer service team, which in turn makes it easier to answer citizen questions and push back on needless go-backs.

“Launching collection has been an ‘all hands on deck’ undertaking,” said Madrigal of the project. “With Routeware, it’s been great.”

Considering bringing waste and recycling collection back under the municipal umbrella? We can help with that. Let’s talk.

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