Industry

Waste Management

Client

Timeline

Jun 2020 - Mar 2021

INTRODUCTION

Brook Lotzkar is a film and digital media producer by training, but got into recycling business by accident. 

“I’ve always been passionate about the environment and recycling is an important part in reducing the amount of waste we send to landfills,” he says. That’s not surprising as Brook’s family had operated one of Vancouver’s first recycling centers back in the 60s. It gave him an opportunity to use his film studies training to encourage more people to recycle.

Now, Brook is an IT and marketing manager at Regional Recycling, based in Vancouver, BC. The company owns a network of recycling depots across Western Canada that allow customers to return bottles and cans for a small refund. Manufacturers will pay for clean, properly sorted bottles and cans that they can reuse, while customers can walk into any of Regional Recycling’s depots, have their recyclables counted and receive some money.

Here’s how automation helps Regional Recycling’s logistics. 

HOW SOFTWARE HELPS THE RECYCLING INDUSTRY

“When COVID-19 hit, our customers wanted to spend less time in the depot sorting their recyclables, so we worked with Afi Labs to develop FastDrop as a contact-less recycling solution,” Brook says. “If we didn’t do this, people would recycle less because they wouldn’t want to risk their health and safety for a few extra dollars.” 

However, Brook says that a lot of their processes were manual. For instance, bottles and cans were counted manually. Receipts were issued and customers have to withdraw their earnings on an ATM. 

With FastDrop, such processes are automated. Besides spending less time on busywork, Brook has better data on the volume of recycling each customer brings. 

Afi Labs built the software systems to make this happen: here’s how FastDrop works.

KEEPING COSTS DOWN

The customer portal is a one stop shop where customers can create drop-offs, print labels, see their past transactions and see how much they have earned. They can request their earnings to be deposited directly to their bank account or even redirect the money they earn to charity, from the comfort of their home. 

  1. Customers sign up for a FastDrop account on a tablet installed in a Regional Recycling depot. They indicate the number of bags of bottles and cans they are dropping off. 
  2. They print a FastDrop label, which contains their ID, and stick it onto their bags. 
  3. Staff take these bags to a machine to count the recyclables and calculate the customer’s earnings.
  4. This information is sent to the customer’s FastDrop account and he is automatically credited for it. Once a $20 threshold is reached, the customer can request to have it sent directly to his bank account by electronic transfer.
  5. Notifications via text message or email are sent automatically to the customer keeping him informed at each step of the process.

“In a feature we call 'Bottle Drives', customers even can specify a charity they want all or part of their payouts to go to. This gamifies the recycling process and encourages more people to get involved and recycle,” says Brook.

FASTDROP’S FUTURE

FastDrop took about 8 months to build from start to finish because the workflows involved and the integrations with other systems, such as item counting and printing of labels were very complex.

Once the system was built it took about 2 weeks to test and install it across 8 depots in Western Canada.

“What impressed me most about Afi Labs was that they were able to very quickly understand the problem we were trying to solve and design a solution that was easy to use.” Even though Fastdrop has only been lives for a few weeks, hundreds of customers have already started using it.

Moving forward, Brook has plans to build out a pickup system to complement FastDrop, called DepoZip, that will allow customers to request pickups direct from their own homes. 

“Requests will be sent to routing software so that we can combine the home pickup routes with our commercial recycling operations, such as from businesses and restaurants,” Brook says. 

Earnings can be automatically credited. Brook plans to automate the process even further, such as optical character recognition for quicker calculations, automated barcode scanning to read labels quickly, and more payment methods.  

Thanks to technology, recycling has never been easier and more rewarding.

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Vancouver

ADDRESS

595 Burrard Street
Vancouver,
BC V7X1L4
Canada

MAIL

[email protected]

PHONE

+1 415-802-2286

Singapore

ADDRESS

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Marina Bay Financial Center Tower 3,
Level 17-01
Singapore 018982

MAIL

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PHONE

+65 6241-3013