Portland Public Schools Dumpster Monitoring Case Study

by Erik Makinson

Seeking Efficiency
Portland Public Schools is the largest school district in the state of Oregon. With a total of 81 schools serving almost 50,000 students, managing waste services can be a daunting task. The PPS Sustainability team was seeking opportunities to save money and reduce its environmental impact, while also lightening the load on internal staff. The Sustainability Program Manager found herself unable to achieve the full potential of her role because so much time was spent managing waste haulers; following up on missed pickups, responding to reports of overflowing dumpsters, etc.

Using A New Approach
Resource Synergy suggested remote dumpster monitoring as a solution to the waste challenges experienced by PPS. By installing a sonar-based sensor ni each dumpster, Resource Synergy is able to remotely track dumpster fullness and missed collections. Equipped with a proprietary dispatch system, the Resource
Synergy team is then able to quickly dispatch extra collections and resolve other waste issues. The unparalleled insight into waste volume allows accurate right-sizing, which translates into substantial savings. Before deploying district-wide, the district chose to pilot the program at five schools.

Results Delivered
The results of the pilot were immediate and impressive. Not only did the program deliver savings equivalent to 150% of service fees, but it also allowed
missed collections and overflowing dumpsters to be identified before the custodians even reported them. Based on the results of the pilot, PPS decided to roll out the program to all (nearly 400) dumpsters districtwide. The program is paying for itself, with savings consistent with the pilot program, and it has dramatically reduced the burden on PPS's Sustainability Program Manager.