City of Loveland Colorado launches Recycling APP
Recyclebank program canceled, but new social media application to help residents with recycling efforts
After a year of what officials called disappointing results from the city's recycling program partnership, the city is launching a new recycling initiative to encourage residents to recycle more. Although both the partnership program that ended in September, Recyclebank, and the new program, a mobile application and website called Loveland Recycling and Trash, are both social media-based, one is not a replacement for the other, according to Business Services Coordinator Brenda Browning.
Recyclebank is a social media company that allowed residents to earn rewards for their recycling efforts that they could use toward deals at local businesses. The city's partnership cost was roughly $100,000 — 35 cents per eligible household per month — per year, with a $47,000 cost to end the yearly contract based on upfront costs the company spent.
"It didn't give us the return on our investment that we wanted," said Mick Mercer, the city's streets, solid waste and stormwater maintenance manager.
The city's benchmark goals for the first year were to increase recycling tons by 11 percent, reduce trash in landfills by 2.8 percent and for 20 percent of households in Loveland to sign up for the program. But both the recycling tons increase and reduction of trash fell short of the goals, with 4.2 percent and 0.1 percent increases, respectively. The amount of eligible households who signed up, however, exceeded the goal at 28.4 percent.
Mercer said staff members put in a lot of work to enhance the program with more of a focus on "home-grown" local businesses, offering these businesses free advertising on the city's website and on the side of garbage trucks if they became premiere businesses and offered better rewards than nationwide businesses. He said Recyclebank officials liked the efforts so much, they hope other cities will follow suit.
Residents will still be able to redeem any points they've received and can still use the Recyclebank website, though they won't be able to gain points through their blue cart recycling.
The switch to the new application is a partnership with a company called ReCollect. Browning said while there aren't set goals for this program, she does anticipate it will increase recycling significantly.
The application, which can be found at www.cityofloveland.org/solidwaste or can be downloaded on any Android or iPhone device, will cost the city $9,000 per year.
Residents will have the ability to see a calendar with recycling and trash pickup dates as well as be able to search any item on the application or website and find out if it's recyclable and where to put it. Users can set up reminders to receive by email, text or phone — including landlines — for pickup dates and times and service interruptions, which Browning said can especially be helpful on holidays.
"I just think residents are going to love this," Browning said.
With the Recyclebank program, Mercer said city staff members felt like they were "preaching to the choir," but with the new program, residents will be able to educate themselves on where to divert their waste. City staff will also be able to set up notifications when necessary, such as reminding residents during the holidays that wrapping paper is recyclable.
"We just spend a fortune to move something that (residents) thought was recyclable that wasn't," Mercer said.
Browning said the application will also provide the city with analytics, allowing staff members to see which areas they need to provide more education about.
An additional benefit Mercer said will be fewer phone calls from residents who missed taking out their trash or recycling and having drivers rerun routes, which is not cheap. Browning said they receive as many as 20 calls per week, which tends to increase during holidays and bad weather.
Browning also reminds residents that they can recycle more than what fits in their cart. Additional carts can be requested from the city and are free, unlike additional trash carts.