Garden Waste Management Implementation
SWISCo, on behalf of Torbay Council, wanted to introduce a garden waste collection service to the residents of Torbay. This was a greenfield project with no prior system or process in place.
The new scheme needed to manage all aspects of the new green waste subscription service.
It needed to
- Allow online and over-the-phone subscriptions
- Interrogate council data to provide discounts to relevant households
- Take online payments through the Adelante payment gateway
- Deliver all Comms to residents both by email and by post
- Manage the service subscription process
- Manage the collection of waste
- Provide and then manage the renewal process
Initially, the process would follow the precedent set by most local authorities: running a 12-month subscription service starting and ending on a fixed date, with collections managed by stickers on the bins sent to residents.
SWISCo were in a unique position to do things differently, though, as their residents still needed bins for this collection service, and part of this new service would be delivering those bins out to the residents. This allowed a new approach with zero downsides but plenty of upsides for the authority and the residents.
We created a rolling subscription period with no stickers or related admin to manage. Residents would instead be given bins at the start of a subscription. If they did not renew, the containers would be collected and reused by SWISCo.
There are big benefits to residents in offering rolling contracts. It meant that no matter when they signed up, they would get 12 months of collections for their subscription. A resident could get another subscription if they realised they needed another bin without losing any collections on the second bin. And on the rare occasion when a resident didn’t renew their subscription, the container would be collected and reused so it wouldn’t be sat in their garden in the way.
There are big benefits to the service as well; they don’t have to order and send out stickers yearly, which means no explosion in administrative work once a year. It also offers a cost reduction year on year as the vast majority of comms can all be managed via email and automatically by the system. Even signups without email access will be handled automatically using the Gov Notify service to send letters to their homes. This means minimal officer involvement for subscriptions over the phone and zero involvement for web subscriptions from an administrative perspective.
This new model did, however, present some unique challenges.
We adapted our existing green waste system to keep a count of the number of bins at any one property. The system then automatically uses this information to decide whether to create container delivery or collection jobs. When a resident signs up for the service, the system sees no bins at the property and schedules them for delivery. Once the crews mark it as delivered, the system keeps the subscription active and sends the resident their collection dates.
When a resident reaches the renewal window, which is set to 6 weeks before expiry, they get an email telling them they can renew. Any renewal in this period leads to an uninterrupted service as the system recognises that they already have the bins required for their service. As such, it marks it as active straight away. To ensure residents don’t miss out on collections when they resubscribe early, the new subscription is added to their old subscription. If they let the subscription expire, they get two weeks and a final reminder to renew; if they don’t, their bin is scheduled for collection by the system and then collected and reused for another subscription which helps keep stock costs down for unused containers. The system automatically manages the renewal process with zero officer admin involvement.
To manage the delivery and collection of the bins, we adapted our bin delivery in-cab technology to also cater for bin collections. As most people who subscribe to garden waste services do so year after year, actual bin churn is expected to be relatively low in the long run.
Together we are looking at ways to grow the business by targeting properties with other subscribed users nearby. We will then utilise gov notify to send letters to residents informing them of the service.
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