Reduce, reuse, recycle! WasteWatcher was inspired by my city's award winning waste reduction program and their goal to divert 40% of all city food and yard waste from ending up in a landfill by 2027. The Program aims to reduce and divert waste through recycling, composting, and reusing. The city began the program in 2016 and has been expanding since. The Hackathon was a great opportunity for me to get involved and give back to my local community by assisting them in making a Quick Base app that they could potentially use and also could be used by other state/local governments that are looking to start their own waste reduction programs.
What it does
1. Track Program Participants & Drop Off Locations: CRM functionality to connect and track all commercial food waste participants and drop off locations (i.e. restaurants, cafeteria programs, and resident drop off locations).
2. Waste Pick Up Management: Track all equipment and in-field activities required for waste pick ups and drop off volumes that are brought back and weighed when arriving at the city waste facility.
3. Compost & Mulch Creation: Intake and management of waste once in the City Facilities. Once on site, the waste is combined to create mulch and compost. Creating high-grade compost and mulch requires daily monitoring including temperature readings, screenings, turning, and curing before it can be sold to the public.
4. Reporting: The structure of the app allows for easy reporting and tracking of waste diversion so it can be used to track against city-wide goals. Also, it allows reporting to be sent to participants to show waste saved by participating in the program.
How I built it
This app leverages all the best parts of Quick Base and some extras. Using relational tables in Quick Base, I was able to build out tables and forms that will easily allow the City Recycling crews to track and log data. I also added in a geolocation function to log their Pick Up Stops when collecting food waste from local business. Using a QR code function for use in the yard will help the crews easily log temperatures of all the windrows.
Challenges I ran into
It's crucial that this app be easily transferable, usable, and deployable for other programs. Each city program will have different types of equipment, routes, and processes to manage their waste intake. Often, different drivers on different days using different equipment to intake waste. It was important to keep the end functionality in mind to ensure that the most beginner Quick Base users could easily use the app from day 1!
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Quick Base is a perfect platform for creating WasteWatcher. The program has employees that work on different days, using different devices and they see lots of issues with data entry, data inaccuracies, field access, and limited reporting. Just a few tables in Quick Base took the place of YEARS of excel spreadsheets.
I'm so proud to be able to give back to the city I live in to help them be more efficient in reaching their long term waste reduction goals!
What I learned
Yet again, I learned that Quick Base could be easily and quickly deployed to greatly assist programs that could benefit from it immediately.
However, I believe the most important thing I learned from this app build is that humans need to buy less single-use plastic. Once I started collecting the food and organic waste in my own home, it was quickly evident that our trash was almost 100% single-use plastics. It has inspired me to try and find more locally sourced products that require less packaging. Also, it's very gratifying to buy fruit and vegetables from local farms that use compost/mulch from the city's program! A true example of reduce, reuse, and recycle.
What's next for WasteWatcher
There are so many different ways and options for continuing development! It would be great to setup a MailChimp integration to contact all participants, import more daily weather info, or add in a point-of-sale system to track compost/mulch sales. There really is no limit to the ways this app could grow and be scalable for different programs! At the moment, I'm hoping to continue development and deployment of the application so they can maximize efficiency and continue to grow the program and help our city reach its waste reduction goal.