Solid Waste & Recycling

Feature

The Time for Automation

In 2008, the Regional District of Central Okanagan, BC, adopted a new automated waste and recycling management system, in an effort to preserve the regions natural sanction and combat an on-going labour shortage problem. The new automated...


In 2008, the Regional District of Central Okanagan, BC, adopted a new automated waste and recycling management system, in an effort to preserve the regions natural sanction and combat an on-going labour shortage problem. The new automated system rolled out in 2009 and supersedes the old system, eliminating the historical physical requirements (boundaries) for employment. As a result, the region is able to accept employment applications from a wider range of individuals who wish to pursue a career in waste management collection. After careful consideration and review of numerous proposals, the region concluded that IPL — the only Canadian supplier of wheeled carts — offered the best technologically-advanced products at a good price.

Production and specs

Under the terms of the agreement IPL supplied 157,000 wheeled carts in varying capacities of 120, 240, and 360 litres to the region to fulfill their waste, recycling and yard waste requirements. The customized wheeled carts are designed for optimal manoeuvrability and durability. Each cart was equipped with a serial number to correspond with the assigned address for inventory, maintenance and tracking purposes.

Although the region required three uniquely identifiable wheeled carts, uniformity and aesthetic appeal was also a requirement. IPL achieved this by colouring the base of all wheeled carts grey. Additional customization for the carts was delivered through the variation in size and colour of lid, assisting with the identification of cart usage to residents and ease of pick-up. The wheeled carts developed for waste disposal were 120 litres (standing just over three feet), built to hold two standard-size garbage bags. Further identification of the waste disposal carts was derived through the grey lid.

In correlation with the region’s goal to divert waste form landfill, the wheeled carts for recycling carts and yard waste were larger, at 240 litres (standing roughly three and a half feet high), with a wider based designed proportionally to enable the storage of four standard recycling bags. To differentiate the use and ensure efficient pick-up, blue lids were used with the recycling carts and green lids for the yard waste.

Driving operation efficiencies

The region’s waste and recycling program was advanced further through the insertion of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in each wheeled cart. The RFID technology provides the region with accurate information for current analysis of each sector’s usage and recycling patterns and for future planning. Further added benefits from the RFID tags include:

• Reduced materials and material costs historically used for tracking and inventory

• Minimal labour costs

• Streamlined operational, maintenance and inventory management process

• Modernized communications

• Heightened ability to monitor vandalism and theft

The RFID tags offer the region long-term promotional possibilities, including (in IPL’s response to the region’s RFP) an option for future possible partnership with Air Miles. Residents could receive points or miles based on the volume of recycled material they set out. With tools to perform detailed analysis and tracking, the region can send residents reminder postcards or even set up recycling workshops in neighbourhoods requiring further education or improvement.

In 2009 the carts offered a surprise benefit: The region was forced to combat a massive forest fire. The RFID tagged wheeled carts and automated system will help in the rapid clean up of the area. Minimal strength is required for residents to move heavy materials or damaged goods to the curbside with the carts.

Tobey Hayden is a technical writer, who worked with the Waste Handling and Environmental Division of IPL Inc. to produce this article. Contact Tobey at thayden@heymarketing.ca

For additional information on IPL products, visit www.ipl-plastics.com


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