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Using Data to Increase Recycling & Engage Residents

Buffalo, NY, USA
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Goverment Champion

Department of Public Works: Refuse and Recycling

Cost

Initial:
40 Thousand USD

Project Status

Operational since 2017

Challenges Addressed

Citizen Engagement
Open Data
Civic Technology
Waste Management
Greenhouse Gas Reduction
Digital Government

Motivation

Smart city
Resilient city
Sustainable city

Funding / Financing

General Fund/Existing Public Funds
Taxes & User Fees
Utility rates

Project Type

Technology
Service

At a Glance

This project is significantly increasing recycling tonnages and reducing waste by utilizing readily available city data streams, industry-first data analytics, and a normative messaging outreach campaign engaging city residents with no capital cost to the city.

Problem Addressed

Buffalo is spending millions of dollars every year to bury its trash and is looking for ways to mitigate those economic and environmental effects. Their recycling rates, while improving slightly over the past few years, had not reached the goals that they had set. Traditional recycling education programs, while effective at first, weren't working anymore. The city was searching for better answers to enhance its recycling efforts while working within a constrained budget environment.

The City of Buffalo used/is using Zerocycle's waste and recycling data analytics and outreach service to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

Buffalo is a diverse city and has many challenges across its demographic landscape. Their previous waste education programs were one-size-fits-all. They are now utilizing Zerocycle to track the amount of waste, recycling, and compost being produced at the neighborhood level. Zerocycle's diversion rate heat maps have dramatically helped the city to more effectively engage residents in the most needed areas by utilizing data-driven insights and allowing them to put their limited budget dollars to best use. See more here: https://reports.zerocycle.co/buffalo

Outcomes

  1. Two fold rate of increase in recycling tonnages in target city neighborhoods.
  2. Significant year-over-year decrease in total city waste volumes - even with an increasing population.
  3. Over $75,000 saved in mitigated landfill fees.