WeB OD Zero Waste Hauling

Recently, we at UCSC Grounds Services applied for the 2015 Innovation by Design “City Solutions” competition hosted by Fast Company magazine. A video was produced for the entry, located at https://vimeo.com/12677689. 9The following is what I submitted for our entry:

Charged with a Zero Waste standard (95% landfill diversion) by 2020, Refuse & Recycling at UCSC (hereafter “R&R”) has pursued improved diversion with combined economic and direct feedback incentives. In pursuit, R&R has aggressively adopted vanguard hardware systems to weigh geo-fenced dumpster loads and inform drivers of real-time fill levels. Satisfying operational demands where commercial hardware is lacking, R&R has built prototypes to measure resource attributes as necessary for system goals.

The digital apparatus that enables a weight-based, on-demand hauling service.

As to both the adoption of commercial systems and in-house fabrications, a planning process has been followed to include: 1) Discovery, 2) Cartography, 3) Design, and 4) Deployment. After intense information gathering (Discovery) and a mapping process for the system, the “Design” of individual components within the system has an independent course in these steps: a) Prototyping, b) Proto-Testing, c) Commercial Testing, and d) Enterprise Application. This “Design” sequence was used in critical aspects of system formulation including a custom sort line, the “Smart Dumpster,” a novel truck-mounted bin scale, and the diversion-friendly waste stations now on campus. Once a new process is slated for adoption, a pilot demonstration is executed to provide information and qualitative awareness prior to campus-wide launch. Thereafter, formal reflection is normalized to include w) data harvest, x) analysis, y) redesign, and z) update. This reflective practice has been critical to verify operational capacity and to routinely address stubborn barriers to measurable success.

Analyzing all three streams of data resource for improved Zero Waste service.

On March 31, 2015, R&R submitted to the budgeting committee the final specifications of the department’s design, a synthesized Weight-Based On-Demand (WeB OD) Zero Waste Hauling system, for campus-wide adoption on July 1, 2015. Employing a real-time, geographically accurate load-scaling and volume-status apparatus, R&R can now affix budget adjustments (invoice) according to a per-pound rate of $0.27 for all material streams. To institutionalize a bias for diversion, the system requires the alignment of three paradigm-breaking practices. First, all materials streams are billed based on their weight at pickup. Second, hauling is an on-demand service with receptacles emptied only once they are majority (>50%) filled. And critically, the third practice is the adoption of a business model that purposefully optimizes recycling, maximizes organics processing, and discourages refuse deposit.

Waste Stations at McHenry Library meant to induce Zero Waste behavior.

All three of these practice realignments are wholly contrary to traditional hauling procedure, as hauling is near universally billed on the basis of volume serviced, assumes a regular pickup frequency, and is fiscally dependent on refuse deposit. R&R has made such a drastic departure from conventional practice to do more than reach Zero Waste goals; we have taken this course to indoctrinate regular, direct dialogue with our customers in terms of their own diversion rates; to communicate the per pound cost of hauling; and to accurately document the environmental rewards of zero waste policy. As the tangible “deliverable” of WeB OD, each building and her occupants receive a monthly Zero Waste Report that outlines the weight of each material stream recovered, the cost of service and the environmental benefits of diversion including GHG reductions, landfill avoidance, compost production and recycled material output.