Great Forest is a leading nationwide sustainable waste management consulting firm/waste broker that manages large scale waste and recycling programs for their clients.  They understand that data gathering, analysis, and targeted action will help transform the waste industry, so they’re constantly researching new technologies that will make their clients’ operations more efficient and cost-effective.

Background

In 2016, David Troust, a Principal at Great Forest, attended a Downtown DC Business Improvement District briefing in Washington, D.C. where he met Brian Pompeo, Vice President of Sales for Enevo.  The two discussed how wireless waste container sensors and waste analytics technology are rapidly gaining traction within the D.C. area locally and organizations globally. In an ensuing conversation, they covered topics ranging from the Enevo waste analytics platform, to sustainability reporting, to the challenges facing the private waste management industry.

Prior to Enevo, Great Forest was using a written log system to report data on container fullness levels. The JBG Companies, an investor, owner and manager of real estate in the Washington, D.C. metro area and Great Forest client, had to ask their janitorial staff to look inside all building containers each day, estimate fill-levels and write them down. This information would then be sent to Great Forest where their data entry team would manually input the data into their system where it could be used for analysis and reporting purposes. This low-tech method was highly subjective and prone to human error.  Fill-level readings could vary 20-30% different depending on the container type, the material and the person doing the inspection.

Great Forest has been working with clients like JBG for decades to manage billing and invoicing for waste services. Working with a variety of waste haulers, Great Forest must coordinate pickup schedules and attempt to verify if these schedules are adhered to. A major challenge was when a pickup was missed. A JBG property manager would have to realize the error and then call a Great Forest client services team member to report the missed pickup. Great Forest would then have to call the hauler, who would have to contact the appropriate driver, check GPS locators and determine what occurred. Verification was limited to hauler driver memory, manual confirmation or GPS tracking, if available. “Unless the property had security cameras, we were stuck in the middle of a back and forth scenario with the hauler and client.  We would do our best to play detective and determine exactly what happened, and where the system broke down” said David.  From the initial client call to the hauler routing a truck to make up the missed collection, the lag time could range from 2-3 hours up to 2 days to get full resolution, if there were extenuating circumstances.

Great Forest also provides comprehensive metrics reporting on behalf of their clients to enable them to report to GRESB and Energy Star, achieve LEED certification or recertification and simply help clients benchmark their diversion efforts. Prior to working with Great Forest, JBG didn’t have reliable reporting data for their waste diversion metrics, and they lacked the ability to get accurate fill-level volumes. Great Forest wanted to deliver complete data to JBG so they could issue accurate, verifiable reports as required by GBCI for LEED certification and more fully understand and improve their waste management system.

Solution

Following discussions with Enevo, Great Forest chose to recommend that their clients install technologically advanced Enevo sensors in their waste containers. To date, over 350 sensors are in place, and more installations are pending. These enable Great Forest to employ waste analytics software that will improve daily waste management operations.

The Enevo system is generating data and analytics which are being used for various levels of management and client reporting. Enevo sensors calculate container fill-levels and send this data wirelessly to the Enevo dashboard, eliminating human estimation and input errors. Great Forest and clients like JBG have been able to focus their efforts on other operational areas.

The sensors also act as motion detectors, recording when haulers have collected the waste. This allows for faster reporting of missed pickups and easier verification of such issues.

Results

The results have been positive for the Enevo/Great Forest/JBG relationship. Great Forest has improved several aspects of its business and has found increased value in these areas:

  • The sensors and waste analytics have reduced the requirements for both Great Forest and JBG staff to manually monitor and record volume fill-level data for each container. Instead of asking the janitorial staff to report manually, Great Forest is now able to provide a greater level of customer service for JBG. Great Forest can now identify containers that are consistently under-utilized or over-filled, allowing them to adjust container size and/or pickup frequency.
  • Another key result of the Enevo sensor installation is that they provide proof when container pickups are missed, eliminating hauler disputes and improving Great Forest’s operations and client relations. David says “it’s amazing to just be able to pull the data up, send it to the hauler and resolve the issue within minutes.”
  • JBG is presently receiving reliable, automated waste diversion data, while previously such data was difficult to collect. The reports now provided by Great Forest deliver accurate and reliable data for GRESB, Energy Star and LEED certification or performance based recertification documentation.
  • An added benefit for JBG has been through improved resident relations from accurate, easier to understand information about waste management. JBG is now able to show residents how to develop better recycling habits and decrease overall waste. Residents can now more easily understand the improved waste management system in their building and see the positive results of JBG’s efforts.

“Systems like Enevo will drive the waste industry out of the stone age. This system takes us to another level and provides ‘eyes and ears’ on the containers we manage, which we never had previously.  This helps us offer our clients a more measurable, and therefore manageable, program for their properties” concludes David.