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Blog November 2018 Updated March 2023

Smart waste planning drives value

Value-creation opportunity in a circular economy

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Value-creation opportunity in a circular economy

What do municipalities need to do?

Already, from New York to Oslo, first leaders and movers among municipalities are undertaking inspiring projects to facilitate their own circular economies, based on three principles as outlined by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation in their report Intelligent Assets: Unlocking the Circular Economy Potential:

  • Design out waste and pollution (products are designed to be recycled)
  • Keep products and materials in use
  • Regenerate natural systems

With business models focusing on renewal, these municipalities are addressing the challenges by harnessing the power of digital solutions. For those looking for strategies to develop a circular economy – or even to improve on their existing strategies – these digital solutions should absolutely include route optimization for waste and recycling management.  

Value-creation opportunity

Route optimization is a value-creation opportunity, according to the report by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, which also cites the need to maximize fleet efficiency.

Doing so not only provides cost savings for municipalities and waste management companies but also reduces CO2 emissions while prolonging the life of the vehicle itself and its parts – goals which firmly align not only with the circular economy’s agenda but also with that of any Chief Financial Officer.

The new challenges for waste management companies

The shift from landfill to recycling over the years has presented new challenges to waste management companies. The demands are soaring for sorting, tracking, and quality assurance from all aspects of waste management. To stay competitive, agility is critical. Companies must have the ability to collect information in real-time and re-plan accordingly for new orders, changes in orders, vehicle equipment monitoring, and more. This is fleet efficiency – a value-creation opportunity.

The role of route optimization

Waste bins and containers are scattered throughout cities and towns. Intelligent route optimization makes collection strategy smart and more efficient. By optimizing routes in real-time, municipalities and companies can reduce the number of miles they drive.

For example, AMCS Route Optimization can handle extreme data volumes for high-density planning. Users of this digital technology have experienced reductions of up to 25%, not only in miles but also in CO2 emissions and driving time.

AMCS’ Route Optimization has also been found to reduce the number of trucks needed altogether, a bonus for cash-strapped municipals looking to create a circular economy. The World Bank has long quoted the cost of handling solid waste management as 20%-50% of a municipal’s budget, while other research indicates the figure is likely to be between 3% and 10%. Whatever the breakdown, the cost savings that Route Optimization can give municipals – and waste management companies – can prove significant.

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Replacing paper with digital solutions

Municipalities and waste management companies can gain even more efficiencies and make inroads into a circular economy with real-time insight into operations. This involves going paperless with the added benefit of increasing margins.

With on-vehicle technology, the back office can get a clear window into waste collection services and make real-time adjustments to scheduling. Drivers are issued with tablets, from which they can get digital schedule updates, intelligent turn-by-turn navigation – there’s more of course. Or should be more. The ideal on-vehicle technology will make significant reductions in wasted journeys, miles traveled, fuel usage, and CO2 emissions.

AMCS’ Mobile Workforce, for instance, has given user's a return on investment within three to six months – that’s how valuable it’s proven in terms of costs and efficiencies while lessening users’ carbon footprints.

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Digital solutions such as Route Optimization and Mobile Workforce future-proof waste management companies, enabling them to meet challenges head-on and even embrace the circular economy if that’s their strategy.

Towards a more efficient fleet

Route planning should always be part of the story. The Ellen Macarthur Foundation found that route planning increased utilization of assets and resources by reducing driving time and improving utilization rate, meaning drivers are more productive.  But the right fleet-planning solution does more. It should also give planners complete transparency into their sites in order to make decisions based on accurate information.

AMCS’ Fleet Planner does all this and more. It allows companies to optimize their daily collections and distribution/pickups. It takes care of customer booking, ad hoc planning, and real-time execution. More than one planner can work simultaneously on the same data. In essence, Fleet Planner gives waste operators the ability to be agile and efficient.

Fleet Planner users have experienced up to a 15% reduction in the number of vehicles or drivers’ shifts needed and up to a 25% reduction in miles, driving time, and CO2 emissions. The largest saving has been seen in transport planning, execution, and follow-up, with up to 50% less time spent on these activities.  

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