As many of you may know we are in the process of building our WastNote tool to help take some of the pain out of waste data reporting. In speaking with many of you we’ve established that the process of gathering, validating and submitting WasteDataFlow reports is only midly preferable to sticking a fork in your eye repeatedly 🙂
As you know, what seems like a relatively straightforward process at first glance is in fact, much more complex. All waste collected by local authorities is weighed at some point and by associating each weighbridge ticket with a collected activity we should be able to pass data through a system of spreadsheets or preferably a database and feed it directly into WasteDataFlow. Sounds pretty straightforward but not quite…
There are a few barriers to this process as follows:
- Weighbridge tickets or spreadsheets supplied by contractors do not link the ticket to a collection activity – The local authority needs to decide if the ticket applies to commercial waste collected or household or is part of a HWRC waste stream. This is required for WDF reporting. Most councils cope with this because the reporting officer might know which driver is associated with the weighbridge ticket and can assign the waste accordingly. However, it depends on the intimate knowledge of one person.WasteNote approaches the problem differently. A waste contractor reporting weighbridge data enters the weighbridge data file into a WasteNote web portal assigned to them by the local authority. The contractor sees only those collection activities that have assigned to their contract – weighbridge ticket data must be assigned to an available activity.
- My contractors need to tell me the recycling performance for waste collected and the destination – for instance what happened to the material collected over say, a one-month period. For a co-mingled stream the material will have been split into different material fractions including some rejected and landfilled. This normally involves the local authority manipulating the weighbridge data into month periods and determining the total amount of waste given to a contractor and then seeking information on the destination of such material – hardly an automated process…..get the fork out again 🙂WasteNote handles this by taking the contractor into a validation stage. The contractor can see the total waste tonnages provided for each monthly period and is required to assign that tonnage to a material and a final destination, until there is no balance left. Hence the contractor is required to report to the local authority on what material was recovered and where it went.
- How do I deal with Activities which include a mixture of household and non-household activities or recyclables collected from HWRC sites and bring sites – With recycling reported in terms of household waste, and with alternating weekly collections, many councils have split off the collection of household and commercial waste on the same route. But it still occurs and the simplest approach is to ignore and to report as HWRC or bring or kerbside.
When an Activity is set up initially in WasteNote, it can be assigned across kerbside/HWRC/bring/commercial activity type by a percentage. We accept this is a refinement – but anticipate being asked to provide this is future.OK. Sounds great I hear you say but what about some of the other things that we need to deal with:
1. Question: What about Audit Trail and billing? Each weighbridge ticket could be associated with an invoice for a several hundred pounds. It is important to ensure that the local authority only signs off on legitimate tickets. In WasteNote the local authority is able to see what weighbridge tickets have been entered by the contractor and then approve these. Only approved tickets go forward into the database and count towards collected waste tonnages. There’s still a requirement for the local authority to keep on top of the approval process but instead of receiving Excel spreadsheets detailing tonnage, the local authority owns and administers a web system through which the contractor is required to report. As for billing, in speaking with some councils we’ve noted that the weighbridge file is also used for billing verification purposes. This would require linking this data to the annual unitary charge or other charging mechanism. However, note that the contractual arrangement is often more complex than a simple gate fee arrangement – rebates for recyclables, recyclables diverted to landfill all change the price structure and the complexity of integrating into a council’s financial system means that the WasteNote focuses on weights rather than financials at the moment – however, this is something we will look at in the future. 2. Question: Do you have any specific requirements in terms of capturing Activities?The most basic element in WasteNote is the Activity. As mentioned above, an activity can be described and apportioned to a kerbside/HWRC/bring or commercial (non-household activity). Ideally an activity can be assigned to a weighbridge ticket. For example it is possible to have 5 daily activities assigned to collection route over a week, or to 1 weekly activity. Clearly the smaller the activity, the better granularity in reporting.
Our bulk upload feature allows several thousand weighbridge tickets to be checked, validated and uploaded into the system. To give you an idea of efficiency, it took us about a day to prepare and screen a year of data for 10 weekly blue bin routes.
3. Question: What data validation challenges can you share with us that need to be handled within the system?Question 100 in WDF which seeks to capture the destination of materials collected is causing significant pain to councils. The question seeks to chase down the final destination of material either fully recovered, exported or disposed, and also requires intermediary steps. In effect this is the duty of care at a level it was never intended for, and it is questionable if MRF operators are able to detail how materials move through different facilities. Our approach is to require the contractors to assign the waste to final destinations and use this information for Q100 – this seems a pragmatic approach.
OK. A quick update on recent progress. We have built reporting functionality into WasteNote, which focuses on Contracts/Activities. These reports give flexibility and are largely user defined.
We’ve also developed a WasteNote Analytics tool which uses advanced excel dashboard features to derive graphical reports and allocate contracts and activities to the appropriate WDF questions. This tool is evolving fast and we will be happy to demonstrate this to interested local authorities.
Are we on right track?
Having worked with local authorities extensively over the past ten years, we have a good understanding of where the challenges lie in waste data reporting, and in the analysis of future recycling strategies.
However, we’d love to hear from you if there are issues that you are wrestling with that we should be considering. Certainly the reporting functionality is developing at speed and we are at a point where we are happy to take on views as to which reports would be most meaningful. So please drop us a line or leave a comment on what features you would like to see in WasteNote or alternatively click on the WasteNote icon below and fill out the form and we’ll contact you to discuss!