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Waste & Recycling Travels – Or Does It?

Waste & Recycling Travels – Or Does It?

Waste & Recycling Travels – Or Does It?

What’s The Difference?

Waste collection programs across North America, and indeed the world, often differ based on regional geography.

In Atlantic Canada, you see more municipalities with bi-weekly garbage collection, with garbage being collected in clear bags

In the southern US, you find municipalities with twice-a-week garbage collection, and bi-weekly recycling collection, that tend to use carts for all collection streams. 

On the US west coast, you find more situations where residents get to pick their hauler, and sometimes, their frequency of collection. 

On Canada’ west coast, there are many municipalities that run a “six-day” collection schedule, meaning collection days change frequently due to holidays. In central Canada, recycling and food waste organics tend to be collected weekly, while garbage is collected bi-weekly. 

In the far north of Canada, you see alternating, bi-weekly garbage and organics collection, with recycling available by drop-off only.

These are but a few examples of how different waste collection programs can be based on where you live full-time or just where you’re temporarily staying. These differences in waste collection programs can be attributed to geography, weather, the ability to process and market recyclables, the role of product stewardship, funding, and social and political will.

While municipalities can learn from the best practices of other jurisdictions on how to maximize customer service and waste diversion, how do residents and travellers learn what the best practices are for their current location?

That’s where Routeware comes in.

Travellers, Temporary Residents, & Transplants

Today, many people can work from anywhere in the world, and can travel there too. More than ever before, we are more mobile and environmentally conscious. In fact, 43 million people in the U.S. who travel consider themselves to be “ecologically concerned.” This means that they recycle at home and want to continue their efforts when they’re traveling, too.

The US received 19.45 million inbound international visitors last year alone. Pre-pandemic, there were a total of 2.3 billion person-trips by US citizens within the US in 2019, according to U.S. Travel & Tourism. Canada as well hosted millions of domestic and international travellers alike. That’s a lot of people in a lot of geographic regions, all of which may have different waste and recycling practices.

Being on vacation (or a work trip) does not mean we should take a vacation from our environmental practices. If we recycle at home, then we should recycle on the road.

As an example of a single item that can cause a lot of confusion, let’s turn to pizza.

Some questions travellers and residents alike may be asking themselves while in your city include: Does the pizza box go in the compost? The garbage? The recycling? What’s the condition of the pizza box? Is there leftover cheese and/or grease? How does that impact which bin it should go in? When do I dispose of the pizza box?

The answers to these questions can be hard to find, leading to wishcycling and contaminated streams like. So, how can we make it simple for them?

There’s two answers: the waste sorting game and the waste wizard.

As an example of the latter, let’s take a look at Houston Recycles.

As you can see by visiting the site and using the built-in waste wizard web widget, three options pop-up when a visitor types in ‘pizza’: pizza, pizza box (greasy), and pizza box (empty with no food residue). With the waste wizard, it is quick and easy to find this information and correctly dispose of an item, but without it, it can be a struggle for residents to find the information they seek.

Some final questions to consider:

  • Does your organization have a dedicated resource that works directly with these groups?
  • What do the services that you offer look like for these groups?
  • Can people easily find information on your website?
  • And if they can, is it in a language they can speak…

Foreign Language Visitors & New Residents

Not only may waste & recycling practices be different in your area for travellers and new residents, but the common language may be different as well. Ensure they’re prepared to recycle properly and support the environment with Routeware. We offer translation services for 16 languages, ensuring your bases are covered for providing information that people can find and understand with ease.

Questions to consider:

  • What languages are prominent in your area?
  • Does your organization offer translation services?
  • What solid waste education and promotional collateral do you currently translate?

Don’t Just Take It From Us

In Avon, Colorado, Walking Mountains Science Center Sustainability Programs Manager Nina Waysdorf says the area features some 55,000 full-time residents, plus a “huge” transient group of seasonal tenants and tourists from all over the world. In addition, some 25% of the population there speaks Spanish.

From presentations, zero-waste events, social media posts and beyond, Waysdorf says she and her team work hard to create inclusive programming. Recycling tours and materials are offered in Spanish, and translations are not only technically accurate, but also culturally relevant to their community, she says.

While there is no feasible way to translate waste and recycling information to every language spoken in the county, Waysdorf says they have found that pictures are an incredibly helpful tool to reach people no matter the language they speak.

Overall, Waysdorf says tapping into any and all forms of communication can yield a higher chance of finding something that resonates with the community.

Because different cities have different practices, it is all the more important to be able to effectively communicate your localized collection methods to travellers, temporary residents, & transplants.

P.S. Have you tried out Routeware City yet? It’s an interactive experience, allowing you to see how our tools can help engage your community, reduce contamination, and help your residents self-serve.

Test it out today!


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Take the next step. Speak to one of our specialists to learn more about how you can:

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Take the next step. Speak to one of our specialists to learn more about how you can:

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