HOW ARR STREAMLINED AUSTIN’S UNIVERSAL RECYCLING ORDINANCE REPORTING
Re-TRAC Connect™ provides City of Austin staff with real-time reports, anytime online access for customers, and results in increased transparency for businesses. Austin uses Re-TRAC Connect, a cloud-based software system, to input, consolidate, and share important recycling and diversion information with stakeholders in our community.
– Aiden Cohen, Program Manager
Sustainability and Strategic Initiatives
AUSTIN RESOURCE RECOVERY
Austin Resource Recovery (ARR), a City of Austin service, provides a wide range of services designed to transform waste into resources while keeping the community clean. In 2012, Austin’s City Council passed the Universal Recycling Ordinance (URO) to increase the life of local landfills, reduce harmful environmental impacts, and encourage economic development.
Under the ordinance, property owners must ensure recycling services are available to tenants and employees. By February 1st of each year, property owners must submit an annual diversion plan to the City that describes the trash and recycling services and education offered at the property.
Austin needed a way to deliver and manage the URO compliance program more efficiently.
Prior to implementing Re-TRAC, Austin collected data using an online, text-based form. From there, the data was dropped into multiple Excel spreadsheets which served as the program’s database. This method was time-intensive due to the fact that staff had to organize, sort, and analyze the data before it was ready to report to management and to ARR’s advisory council. The online form had a limited capacity for data entry. It had no means of validating the data which meant that fields requiring a number-only response contained, for example, the word “six” instead of the number “6”.
The text-only fields were similarly affected. This required significant staff time to review the data, contact the customer, and correct the responses. The spreadsheets Austin used to manage the data did not have pre-built calculations and offered no method to compare year-to-year performance. The property owners (end-users) had no password protection, no way to save their data before submitting, and no way to easily review the previous year’s responses. Austin needed a way to deliver and manage the URO compliance program more efficiently.
Austin learned about Re-TRAC by attending industry events such as the USZWBC Annual Conference, SWANA’s Annual Conference, the Resource Recycling Annual Conference, and STAR’s Annual Recycling Summit. Austin’s administrators also subscribed to the Re-TRAC Connect Monthly Update email which highlighted how other customers were using the software to achieve their diversion goals.
At the close of the RFP, Austin reviewed and scored each submission to determine which proposal offered the best solution. Re-TRAC Connect’s bid was selected as the top vendor so Emerge Knowledge and Austin Resource Recovery developed an implementation plan to get the system up and running.
ARR Eliminated the need to manage multiple spreadsheets or create complex reporting macros.
Austin Resource Recovery’s Business Outreach Team has saved a great deal of time since implementing Re-TRAC. They eliminated the need to manage multiple spreadsheets and complex reporting macros. They are now able to focus their time on providing businesses with the technical resources they need to optimize their recycling programs. Re-TRAC Connect empowers ARR staff to manage property contacts, mailings, questions, observations and compliance actions all in one place.
For example, all waiver requests and communication logs are managed in Re-TRAC Connect which makes it easy for City staff to quickly check the status of any property. Re-TRAC Connect provides Austin City staff with up-to-the-minute reports, increased transparency between citizens and staff, documented communication between staff and property managers, and an easy way to share information with key stakeholders.
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