Waste and recycling and our cities
Our cities are major stakeholders in our efforts—they not only set the rules for recycling, but are also major processors of waste. City governments understand that this is an environmental issue upon which all citizens can agree. They are central to our efforts to promote the circular economy. That means our relationships with municipal authorities are critical to our mission and business. We are particularly focused on deploying our technology solutions to help city recycling and waste systems become more resilient and efficient in the face of future crises; our technology is helping to create efficiencies and control costs in these circumstances.
When we are more effective in helping cities capture and control waste, we are helping taxpayers in multiple ways. They are getting more efficient and effective services that they already pay for, their cities are more desirable places to work and live—and more economically competitive due to reduced blight—and they enjoy a higher quality of life due to the removal of waste from public spaces. These outcomes are particularly important for cities that serve primarily low-income communities. For too long, these communities have been overlooked in the broader effort to improve quality-of-life measures as basic as regular waste removal and environmental health indicators. We aim to help these communities where it matters most. In moving our headquarters to Lexington, Kentucky, we are making an additional statement about our commitment to America’s cities: We believe once-thriving cities can be renewed by fresh investment and new corporate growth, and we are making those investments.
Rubicon’s technology tools are helping municipalities address their collection and sorting challenges. Like many cities, the City of San Antonio, Texas, struggles with recycling and organics contamination, which arises when non-recyclable and non-compostable items in curbside containers, such as plastic bags, get mixed into curbside loads. With RUBICONVision™, San Antonio’s organic waste trucks can address contamination at the source. High-definition cameras placed inside the hoppers capture images and automatically flag material that might contaminate the load—all without driver interaction. In a month-long evaluation period, RUBICONVision identified contamination in four out of every 10 routes—data that will help the City take action to educate residents and cut down on rejected loads.
In the City of Kansas City, Missouri, Rubicon has implemented dispatch and routing capabilities for every vehicle in the City’s Department of Solid Waste. Rubicon’s software is integrated with the City’s bulky waste scheduling application, as well as its 311 hotline for non-emergency issues. When residents make a bulky waste collection request or submit a new work order, the request flows digitally to Rubicon’s platform, where the job is scheduled and added to a route. The software then optimizes that route and sends it to the driver. Once the driver completes the job, the platform sends back a completion notification to the customer. This digital chain dramatically reduces staff time, while the route optimization reduces both staff time and greenhouse gas emissions.
Rubicon has also helped Kansas City expand service to areas that were previously outsourced—increasing the department’s solid waste and recycling collection responsibility from 60,000 to 160,000 residential locations. Thanks to this expanded view, City staff are now able to bring the efficiencies of their department to a greater number of Kansas Citians. The enhancements have resulted in more than $2 million in annual taxpayer savings in waste and recycling collection costs, and it won the Rubicon and Kansas City partnership a Smart 50 Award for 2021.