Improving Solid Waste Services

Background: City residents were experiencing significant delays in the collection of garbage placed outside the cart. The service level agreement gave the City 21 days to pick up outside the bin trash but unless citizens called 311 to report a service request, it was difficult for the City to deploy resources efficiently. As a result, the City met their goal only 65% of the time. 
“The problem with it was it was not predictable,” Al Lamar, director of the city's Solid Waste Division, said. “The lack of predictability in the service we were delivering caused the shortfall in our delivery of service.” Daily Memphian, April 2019. 
Service Question: How can we improve the speed at which we collect garbage placed outside the cart?
Analytics: During the Strickland administration a team was created to examine the data surrounding solid waste collection. Data showed that while the city was reliably picking up weekly garbage and recycling, we were missing our goal of picking up outside the bin trash within 21 days more than half of the time. The data, along with resident complaints, also revealed that the contractor serving the Cordova and Hickory Hill areas was under-performing. 
 Additionally,  two of the most pressing needs identified were lack of equipment and lack of staff.  Due to a cost-cutting measure years ago, some 76 solid waste positions went unfilled and more than two dozen pieces of equipment went unreplaced.  Steps were taken to fill the open positions, purchase new equipment, and obtain rental equipment for use until the new equipment arrives. 
Implementation: To address the lack of equipment and staff, steps were taken to fill the open positions, purchase new equipment, and obtain rental equipment for use until the new equipment arrived. Using the service request data for the contracted area, the Strickland administration invoked a clause that allowed the City to cancel the contract and bring on an emergency contractor provide service. 
The Solid Waste team worked with the City's Information Services team to develop an app that would allow managers to monitor service requests in the field via a tablet. This enables Managers to handle their workload electronically and allows them to direct field staff more efficiently. 
To address the issue of outside the bin trash, the Strickland Administration reinstated the Division of Solid Waste, bringing it out from under the Division of Public Works.  Solid Waste has more than 500 employees and impacts close to 200,000 households each week and reinstating the division will allow its leadership to focus every day on improving services.  
A new service delivery model was implemented to streamline city services and make better use of resources. Weekly garbage and recycling services continue as usual, and starting May 1, 2019, yard waste in excess of 2 bags and bulky items will be picked up two times a month on a resident's scheduled collection day. By assigning days for outside the bin pick up, the City can better plan its workload, deploy resources, and ultimately provide faster services for our citizens. To learn more about the service change and find your scheduled pick up day, click here.
Results: In December 2018, there were 204 open service requests for missed garbage or recycling pickups and 1,597 open service requests for outside the cart pickup.  By the end of February 2019, due to the hard work of each of the Solid Waste employees, outstanding requests had been reduced to 17 open requests for missed pickups and 51 open requests for outside the cart pickup.