A waste audit journey; pt 1

Consumer recycling behaviors are fascinating.

Bubble wrap, orange cone, boxes in full form – all not acceptable

We’ve spent the past three days up in the very early AM to get a peek inside resident recycling and refuse carts in the City of Wausau, WI. ERbin, in partnership with Rocket Industrial, a packaging solutions provider with its headquarters also in Wausau, is conducting a waste audit for the city. The goal is to learn about resident recycling behaviors so that we can provide better education to residents about how to recycle right.

All stakeholders involved – everyone from the Marathon County Solid Waste Dept., to the private hauler, Harters, to the City of Wausau, to ERbin and Rocket Industrial – we’re all looking to find ways to decrease the amount of materials that end up in landfills.

Curbside cart audit photos
Beautiful! Materials loosely tossed into the cart.

After three days of audits in Wausau, we’re learning that the rockstar recyclers and residents who need a little more education are incredibly geographically diverse. Which begs the question, why are some residents putting more of the right materials into their carts than others?

It all starts with the packaging designers and manufacturers. That’s why we are thrilled Rocket Industrial decided to get involved with the city waste audit. Rocket works directly with brands and manufacturers to help them package with less and with other options such as increasing the recycled content in packaging material. When packaging engineers can see first-hand how consumers make disposal decisions about product packaging, they can re-think packaging design that will lead to more sustainable disposal options.

Great effort with the paperboard boxes, BUT… plastic wrap left on box and boxes not broken down

Curbside audits are a great first step in addressing barriers to recycling right. We’ll be back with more audit findings. For now, enjoy the cart photos from our audit thus far.

3, 2, 1, ERbin Re-launch

We can’t believe it has been six months since we launched the very first version of ERbin in Weston, WI! Thanks to the amazing Weston beta tester feedback, we’ve iterated on the app’s user interface many times, and have added thousands of more products for users to scan.

That means we are ready for a Weston re-launch! Beginning on Monday, September 30, Weston residents will be able to jump on Google Play or the App Store and download the newest version of ERbin (search for erbin).

After you download, have some fun in your kitchen, bathroom, or utility closet and start scanning or searching for products or instructions on how to recycle in Weston recycle bins. Remember, recycling instructions in the app are specific to Weston’s Advanced Disposal customers. That’s because Advanced takes Weston recovered materials to the Portage County Material Recovery Facility (MRF) for processing. Weston neighbors in Wausau or Kronenwetter have a different recycling service provider and processor. The guidelines vary by community – crazy, huh?!

Also super important – Head to Facebook and search for ‘Weston, WI Recycles’ Facebook Group to join an ongoing conversation with us and your fellow Weston friends about how to recycle right. You’ll be able to get answers to questions we are all asking, when it comes to knowing what is acceptable in Weston recycle bins.

Love the app? Help us out by rating us with five stars in the App Store or Google Play.

Have feedback to make the app even better? We’d love to hear from you. Email Co-founder Michelle at mgoetsch@erbinusa.com.

Thanks for staying with us on this exciting journey!

With Gratitude,

Raising money; raising a startup

ERbin recycling app

About 10 weeks ago, we challenged our Weston, WI ERbin app beta testers to scan as many products as possible before June 6 – the last day of school for the DC Everest School District. The purpose of the scan challenge was to (1) motivate testers to continue using the app (so we can make it better), (2) educate about what’s actually acceptable in Weston recycling bins, and (3) raise money for Recycling Connections so that they could do some recycling infrastructure analysis and education for staff and students and Weston Elementary School.

Awesome news! Our testers scanned 716 products during that time period. That means we get to donate $358 to Recycling Connections!

We are so grateful to have an amazing org like Recycling Connections right here in central WI! And we’re thrilled that staff at Weston Elementary gladly jumped into the opportunity to do more good for their school, students, and the earth!

What’s next for ERbin? We are spending the summer loading thousands of products into our app’s database, among many other exciting developments! The more products we have in our database, the closer we become to bringing the app to residents across the county so we can ALL recycle right.

The war on contamination in the residential recycling stream doesn’t stand a chance.

Stay tuned to our startup journey here, or on Facebook or Instagram.

With gratitude,

ERbin CEO & Co-founder