With a population of just under 60,000, the City of Dubuque, Iowa was looking for a way to educate its 20,000 residential customers on proper waste disposal practices to improve the City’s sustainability outcomes, while also keeping its household base rate for waste and recycling as one of the lowest in the state.
Dubuque has long known that happy drivers equal happy customers, so while Jake Jansen, Resource Management Supervisor for the City of Dubuque, was excited to onboard Rubicon in the fall of 2022, he was apprehensive about how drivers would take to the new technology.
“Our crew had been relying on a paper routing system for over 20 years; I was worried that putting smartphones in front of our staff and asking them to use that instead wouldn’t go over well,” said Jansen.
Fortunately, he needn’t have worried. “We had a couple younger drivers embrace the technology immediately, and they eventually operated like salespeople to those who were against the change,” said Jansen. With encouragement, their colleagues quickly embraced the technology. “Drivers took pride in recognizing that it is a tool they can use to inform our customers, and in time, Rubicon was seen across the staff as something that made their job easier.”
Proud custodians of a clean community
Rubicon’s technology empowers Dubuque’s waste and recycling drivers, who are proud of their role as custodians of a clean community. Using the Rubicon app, drivers can report such issues as items left outside their designated carts, prompting customers to correct their disposal practices by obtaining paid stickers for proper disposal or opting for larger carts.
“When [drivers] take a picture of an extra bag that’s outside of the cart, we take that exception list and automatically send an email to the customer saying ‘Hey, to be collected, this bag needs an extra trash sticker,’ the next time the driver gets there the customer either has a bigger cart because they needed a bigger cart, or they have a sticker on their extra trash,” said Jansen.
Drivers want to help customers reduce waste
With Rubicon, Dubuque can educate customers, keep base rates low and promote responsible waste disposal practices. Before working with Rubicon, drivers were more inclined to take everything that was set out—leading to more trips to the landfill and extra work.
Rubicon has given them additional pride in their job; Dubuque’s drivers want to help their customers reduce waste and, using the Rubicon app, they can take timestamped photographs of a household’s set out which can later be used to educate customers on the City’s proper waste disposal practices. Having drivers enforce the rules reduces go-backs, meaning that the City not only is less likely to drastically raise its base rate, it has also seen a decline in its trash tonnage, which is saving the City money on tipping fees.
Dubuque’s case exemplifies how Rubicon’s solutions make it easy for cities to empower drivers, educate customers, and enforce rules effectively. The partnership between Dubuque and Rubicon demonstrates the transformative power of a proactive approach to waste management, leading to reduced costs, improved customer satisfaction, and a more sustainable future.
Rubicon created a documentary featuring the success story of Houston, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; and Glendale, Arizona. Watch the full documentary on YouTube.
To learn more about how Rubicon can help your city maximize resources, optimize routes, and become more proactive, visit rubicon.com/governments.