This year, American citizens will discard 11 million tons of textile waste, the majority going straight to landfill. Buffalo based not-for-profit organization, Hearts for the Homeless (HFTH), is a leading driver for the circular economy in the region. HFTH operate a clothing and textile recycling program collecting waste from the Western New York (WNY) area. They recycle the lightly used clothes through their thrift store, while clothing that cannot be used are sold on to wholesalers. This business model has allowed HFTH to expand their activities and support hundreds of homeless and hungry Buffalo inhabitants.

Background

In 2015, HFTH, members of the Western New York Coalition for Donated Goods (WNYCDG) and the City of Buffalo diverted 4,800 tons of unwanted clothing and textiles for reuse. In an age of growing consumerism, HFTH’s ambition is to provide even greater support for the homeless. Its management team’s aim is to expand their recycling and collection capabilities, with the goal of achieving zero waste to landfill from its operation.

HFTH was founded in 1990, starting out with a small number of recycling collection containers around the WNY area. Nick Calandra, COO and Corporate Secretary of HFTH, describes the management of those containers saying, “We personally checked every container and it was easy to memorize locations and estimate fill speeds in order to organize our truck routes and collections.”

However, as the organization grew and the collection points spread across a wider area, manual logistics planning became more complex and efficiency dropped. It got to the point where containers were being emptied when only 30% full, simply because they were located on the regular collection routes.

HFTH sought a solution that would allow them to scale operations, optimize collections and, wherever possible, automatically adjust routes to maximize collection efficiency.

Solution

After investigating the market, Enevo was chosen in 2014 and sensors were deployed on a hand-picked number of container sites throughout the operation. The results demonstrated the reliability and ease of use of the technology, which included wireless fill level sensors in each of the collection containers, transmitting data to the analytics and logistics planning tools at the office and on mobile devices in the trucks and warehouse.

The Enevo solution was then deployed across HFTH’s entire 420 collection site. Powerful data reporting and analysis, provided via Enevo’s web-based app, allowed better forecasting and the system’s dynamic capabilities enabled changes to collections and routes based on actual needs.

Results

Greater efficiency in collection route planning has resulted in reduced visits to individual container sites and increased fill-level rates from 35-40% to ~80%, maximizing the capacity and usage of each truck. Continuous monitoring has eliminated container overfill, this ensures no clothes or sacks littering the site area and has reduced residents’ complaints to a minimum. HFTH use Enevo to decide on the most economic container location to maximize the value of each container in the community.  Staff now add new sites to their collection routes while on the road to ensure unexpected container fills are not missed. The data collected has added value to the process, allowing HFTH to continuously enhance the service and offer increased efficiency.

An unforeseen benefit of using Enevo, is that when in discussion with new sites owners HFTH is able to demonstrate real data about fill rates and prove the benefit of siting a container in a particular area.

Experience

“Enevo’s solution allows us to better monitor our current collection operations and gain efficiency, while providing a scalable, data driven means to expand our collection network moving forward. We’ve loved working with Enevo since day one including the passion and commitment of their team to helping us grow and succeed.”

– Nick Calandra, COO and Corporate Secretary, Hearts for the Homeless

Read more about Nick’s thoughts in our interview with him.

Benefits

  • Increased fill rate from 35-40% up to 80%
  • Reduced inefficient collection stops
  • Eliminated container overfill
  • Created highly flexible route planning
  • Generated valuable business data
  • Implemented scalable system with known cost structure
  • Increased opportunities for communities to join the circular economy
  • Improved recycling reporting capabilities