City of Williamsburg unveils new software to improve recycling efforts

The City of Williamsburg recently unveiled a new system aiming to make recycling easier. Williamsburg residents can now sign up on the City’s website or download an app in order to receive text, phone, email or Twitter reminders about when recycling days are and what items can be recycled.

The new software, called ReCollect, provides several services to residents, including a printable calendar, updates if the pickup schedule changes and an interactive list of what can and cannot be recycled.

The City’s Information Technology Manager Mark Barham said that the app reduces confusion over which day is recycling pickup day. He said that since trash is picked up every week but recycling is only picked up once every other week, it is easy for residents to become confused about the schedule. Barham said that ReCollect’s services can help mitigate this confusion by sending reminders to residents about when to put bins out and when to roll them back in.

This is yet another great way to use technology to make one of the most important City services a little easier for the public,” Barham said.

“This is yet another great way to use technology to make one of the most important City services a little easier for the public,” Barham said.

City Councilmember Benny Zhang said that City Council and the citizens generally guided this improvement. He also said that there have been complaints in the past surrounding the schedule confusion and that the council would have to look up pickup days and personally reply to each citizen.

Zhang said that some citizens are upset by bins that are left out on the wrong day or for multiple days at a time due to the residents’ uncertainty about the pickup schedule. He was especially interested to see how the new app would help student tenants living off-campus. Because students typically only live there for a year or two, Zhang said it is harder for them to get used to the schedule than for residents who have lived in Williamsburg for years.

“I think the underlying theme is that we want to make the government responsive to its citizens,” Zhang said. “And we’re always trying to find ways to make sure that we can make it as efficient and convenient as possible for its citizens.”

Student Environmental Action Committee Outreach Officer Stuart Jones said that the introduction of the app is a positive change because it will help citizens recycle as often as possible and recycle the correct items. He spoke about how important recycling is, saying that the resources invested in producing new paper, metal and plastics come from oil — in order to stop using oil there would have to be enough recycled materials to replace the old materials.

Jones said that this alert system will allow recycling to become even more prevalent than it already is.

“Recycling is pretty strong, getting better all the time,” said Jones.

Students like Jesse Smyth ’18 are involved in programs to help recycling efforts become even stronger locally. Smyth and a few of her friends started a red solo cup recycling program, which involves collecting cups from fraternity houses and placing them in front of the Environmental Health and Safety Office to be recycled.

“Throwing away isn’t throwing away, like it goes to a landfill, it goes to an ocean if you’re not careful,” Smyth said. “If you recycle it goes back into production and stops wasting materials and doesn’t pollute the environment.”

Student representative on the Neighborhood Relations Committee Jakob Stalnaker ’16 J.D. ’19 said that this new reminder system is designed to help make sure that people have as much information on the process of recycling as possible, thus increasing its prevalence.

“It’s important to take care of the environment and the land the college is on,” Stalnaker said. “I think it’s important to make recycling as easy as possible and I commend the city for doing it.”

Zhang is proud of the example the City has set for its residents. He said that Williamsburg has made it a top priority to be as environmentally friendly as possible and that this new system is part of that effort.

“As a council member, as a resident I think if government sets a standard for environmental sustainability and for environmentally friendly policies that’s how we create an example for citizens to follow,” Zhang said.


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