Dive Brief:

  • Waste and recycling tech company Rubicon announced it will deploy its proprietary technology, RUBICONSmartCity, this week in Montgomery, AL through a public-private partnership (P3).
  • The technology will give the city’s sanitation department access to a desktop portal that connects to smartphones across its fleet of 80 trucks, providing real-time information on operations. The technology will also provide data on vehicle patterns and routing to help the city improve efficiency and customer service.
  • Rubicon has deployed its smart city technology in more than 20 cities across six states.

Dive Insight:

Montgomery is the latest addition to the list of cities and private fleets that are utilizing Rubicon’s smart city applications, and the program will only continue to grow. Michael Allegretti, senior vice president of policy and strategic initiatives at Rubicon, told Waste Dive in April the company would even like to make the smart city tech an additional service that companies can offer in a request for proposals (RFP) process. “I want our independent haulers to be able to compete against the biggest players in the industry for residential franchise agreements,” he said when explaining the value of collection data that can in-turn offer insights into a city’s waste stream.

Since its launch in 2008, Rubicon has touted itself as an advanced, innovative technology company offering waste and recycling solutions, and it has worked hard to maintain this image. The company recently received patent approval for a “method, system, and vehicle for autonomous waste removal,” a futuristic idea waste industry execs have long shied away from, despite the growth of autonomous vehicle testing in trucking industries.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange praised the Rubicon partnership due to its potential to “save taxpayer resources.” The mayor also announced that the city reached an agreement with RePower South to reopen the city’s recycling facility, which is expected to create 60 “green jobs” and position the city as a leader in environmental sustainability. Aside from these recently-announced efforts, the city touts its Cenergistic Energy Program as an initiative that is increasing energy efficiency and advancing Montgomery’s status as a “smart city.”

As cities weigh investment and partnership options, sanitation often takes a backseat to other priorities including mobility and infrastructure. However, companies like Rubicon are demonstrating that there is a place for technologically advanced waste and recycling operations. Cities can also turn their attention to policy changes regarding packaging materials and “zero waste” initiatives to stay environmentally resilient and reach sustainability goals.