Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wireless

HIGH-PITCHED DIGITAL MELODIES and the phrase, “Can you hear me now?” have become mainstream in recent years, thanks to the growing popularity of wireless phones. But while consumers are buying phones equipped with games, text messaging and cameras, the industry has yet to provide for another important demand — an easy disposal system for that outdated phone and a product that is easy to recycle or refurbish.

Next year, Americans are predicted to buy more than 100 million new cell phones and stuff their old phones into closets, drawers and other nooks around the house or office. At that point, the stockpile of out-of-service phones will rise to 500 million units weighing 250,000 tons (about one pound each), according to “Calling All Cell Phones,” a 2003 report by Inform Inc., a New York-based research organization.

“The numbers today are the same as what we found in 2003,” says Eric Most, who authored the Inform report. “At current rates of recovery, hundreds of millions of used cell phones will soon wind up in landfills or incinerators where they'll release arsenic, lead, cadmium and many other toxic materials that threaten human health and the environment,” he says.

Thus, the cell phone industry is scrambling to develop comprehensive disposal alternatives. Cell phone recycling programs are moving in the right direction, Most says, but their scope is dwarfed by the stunning growth of the industry. In 1995, wireless phone carriers supplied service to approximately 34 million subscribers. At the beginning of 2003, there were 141 million cell phone users. According to industry estimates, the average cell phone lasts about 1.5 years. If this estimate is correct, 141 million more phones will require disposal by the end of 2005.

But developing recycling streams for new products takes time. Between 1999 and early 2003, cell phone recycling efforts netted fewer than 5 million phones, about 1 percent of those discarded.

Wireless industry affiliates account for the lion's share of discarded cell phone collection and recycling, according to Inform. Programs include Donate-A-Phone, operated by the Washington, D.C.-based Wireless Foundation, and the Call-To-Protect program, which Verizon Wireless of Bedminster, N.J., operates through its organization HopeLine. AT&T Wireless recently entered the field with a Wireless Reuse & Recycle program.

Additionally, a number of manufacturers and wireless carriers participate in Wireless Foundation programs: Alltel, Cingular, Motorola, Nextel, Rural Cellular Corp. and Sprint. These programs refurbish phones and donate them to charities or resell them to new users. Cell phones that cannot be refurbished are recycled back into the manufacturing process. However, that leaves 495 million cell phones with no place to go but the landfill.

“Bottom line, this is a matter for concern, but not alarm,” says Bruce Parker, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), a sub-association of the Environmental Industry Association (EIA). “Every few years, the e-waste stream changes as technology replaces older products. The technical ability to discover toxic and potentially negative aspects of electronic products is still far ahead of the ability to deal with those discoveries in terms of social policies.”

Parker goes on to note that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C., currently is working with companies that manufacture electronic products to develop an infrastructure of programs to refurbish and recycle e-waste, including cell phones. Yet he believes the responsibility for dealing with e-waste must ultimately fall on manufacturers and retailers.

“It is an ups
tream responsibility,” Parker says. “We are part of the loop in that we eyeball incoming trash and comply with landfill bans by sending banned materials back. But you can't deal with the problem itself downstream at the landfill.”

The Inform report draws a similar conclusion and recommends a number of steps to help cell phone retailers and manufacturers control the problem.

The recommendations include national advertising campaigns that advise consumers to return their old cell phones to stores and manufacturers, to take advantage of cell phone collection drives, and to donate cell phones to charities that refurbish and redistribute the phones.
Inform also recommends that manufacturers develop more durable plastic components to reduce the number of parts that must be replaced during phone refurbishing. Manufacturers also could standardize cell phone design elements, such as adapters, batteries and accessories, to speed refurbishing and allow more parts to be recycled back into manufacturing. Other recommendations include reducing toxic contaminants in parts, simplifying software reprogramming procedures and color-coding batteries to simplify sorting.

The Inform report also makes four suggestions to public policy makers:

Require consumers to make deposits on cell phone purchases. The promise of a refund would provide an incentive to return used phones for reuse and recycling.

Institute landfill bans on cell phones.

Make manufacturers responsible for managing end-of-life cell phones to create incentives for manufacturers to design products that are easier to refurbish and recycle.
Evaluate the effectiveness of such policies by requiring manufacturers, retailers and recyclers to report on the collection, recycling, refurbishment and eventual end-use of old cell phones.
Efforts to keep cell phones out of landfills may not hold huge selling power among consumers. But if the industry continues to develop technology at its current pace, investing in reusable products could be music to the waste industry's ears.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Digital Trash

AMERICANS WILL THROW OUT more than 12 million tons of electronic equipment next year according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C., estimates. Without programs to recycle this electronic waste (e-waste), the old computers, televisions, cell phones, and other devices made of plastic, metal, glass and toxic chemicals will begin to choke the nation's landfills.

To prevent this problem, the EPA has conducted several electronics recycling (e-cycling) pilot programs in conjunction with local governments and retailers. The lessons learned from these pilots can aid in establishing permanent e-cycling programs nationwide.

The first EPA pilot tested the effectiveness of curbside collection and drop-off e-waste locations in Mid-Atlantic states between Oct. 1, 2001, and Dec. 30, 2002. Pilot participants included the EPA's Philadelphia office; environmental agencies from several states and the District of Columbia; local solid waste departments; electronics manufacturers; electronic recycling companies; and private waste management companies.

The participants shared the e-cycling program's $1.9 million price tag, with the largest share — $1.4 million — falling on state environmental agencies and local governments. “This was the first time we came up with a system of shared financial responsibilities to pay for, collect and deliver recyclable electronics,” says Claudette Reed, a scientist in the waste and chemicals management division of the EPA's Philadelphia office.

By sharing the burden of managing e-cycling programs, the EPA hopes the cost of hosting such programs will be viewed as reasonable by all groups involved.

According to the pilot's final report, the undertaking also yielded five lessons. First, aggressive advertising is critical to the success of an e-cycling program. In the pilot, local governments targeted advertisements at residents using television, newspapers, Web sites, flyers, posters and utility bill stuffers. During the 15-month pilot, the Delaware Solid Waste Authority alone spent $40,000 on advertising.

The pilot also taught the EPA that residents are generally willing to pay small end-of-life fees in the range of $2 to $5 to help pay for e-cycling.

The EPA also learned that permanent collection programs are more cost-effective than single-day collection events.

Additionally, a pilot program can serve as a catalyst for local governments to create permanent e-cycling programs. For example, the success of the pilot led officials in Lebanon County, Pa., to establish a permanent curbside electronics collection program. In Frederick County, Va., a successful drop-off event has led to plans for a series of e-cycling events.

Finally, the pilot confirmed that a high volume of residential and small-business electronic devices is available for collection and recycling.

Another EPA pilot begun in the Pacific Northwest now is operating nationally, thanks to Del Ray Beach, Fla.-based Office Depot and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) based in Palo Alto, Calif. In this pilot, Office Depot agreed to take back old electronics through its national store network. HP then joined the program to see how it might contribute to current company recycling efforts, which break down old products for reuse.

While results have not yet been reported for this pilot, Katharine Osdoba, product stewardship team leader for the EPA, notes two points of interest. To date, recyclers have not found ways to make e-cycling profitable. If manufacturers can receive the materials directly and reuse them to manufacture new products, the economics may work better, she says. The EPA also is hoping that manufacturers interested in recycled electronic materials will begin working on green product designs to reduce toxic materials and make recycling easier.

In a third pilot, the EPA is exploring whether retailers are practical collection points for e-cycling. The EPA, office product retailer Staples, based in Framingham, Mass., and the nonprofit Product Stewardship Institute operated the program. In this pilot, consumers returned used electronics to Staples, which transported the materials to central warehouses for pickup by recyclers. “Finding ways to move materials to a point where recyclers can pick [them] up in bulk has been a problem,” Osdoba says. “We're waiting for data on the pilot to see whether this approach might work.”

In the meantime, California and Maine have decided not to wait for pilot results and passed legislation governing e-waste. The California legislation mirrors existing state legislation for recycling tires, batteries and other difficult-to-recycle products. In California, consumers purchasing electronics products will pay recycling fees to retailers at the point of purchase. The fees will go to state environmental regulatory agencies, which in turn fund recycling programs and enforcement.

Maine's legislation takes a different tack. It will begin as a traditional state-funded recycling program. However, within a few years, the program will be funded by manufacturers instead of the state. “This is consistent with programs in Europe and Japan,” says Kevin McCarthy, vice president of government affairs with Houston-based Waste Management Inc.

Today, the search for e-waste solutions is just a few years old. It began when the EPA formed the National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative (NEPSI) in 2001. Members include electronics manufacturers, retailers, recyclers, and state and local governments.

NEPSI aims to develop ways to collect, reuse and recycle used electronics, and to suggest incentives to stimulate source-reduction, reuse, recycle, reduce toxicity and increase recycled content in product design. Additionally, the organization has attempted to discuss financing mechanisms for e-cycling, but this has been a contentious issue.

Nevertheless, NEPSI discussions and pilot programs similar to those conducted by the EPA are characteristic of the development of national regulatory programs, Osdoba says. As groups and pilot programs define options, states will draw on that information to develop legislation. After several states have weighed-in on the issue, the federal government likely will develop national legislation defining minimum e-cycling standards, using the most sensible state programs as a benchmark. With federal legislation in place, states then will be able to enforce or raise the minimum standards to suit their needs, she says.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Digital TV Box's

According to international research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics (Delafield, Wisconsin), as of the end of 2007, more than 100 million digital television set-top boxes have been sold worldwide in preparation for the February 2009 transition from analog-to-digital broadcasting.

Texas

Austin, Texas — A report by the Texas Campaign for the Environment says that the state of Texas "faces a surge of toxic electronic trash over the next 10 years and taxpayers could be hit with a $606 million cleanup bill," according to The Associated Press (AP). The report says "computers, televisions and many electronics contain toxic materials that should not be buried with municipal garbage in landfills," the AP says.

The report urges state lawmakers to "follow Maine’s lead in forcing manufacturers of monitors, laptops and TVs to take responsibility for safe recycling of equipment bearing their brand names," the AP says

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Nationwide recycling

TWO MEMBERS OF THE U.S. House of Representatives are trying, once again, to create a national e-waste recycling system. In early January, Reps. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., introduced the National Computer Recycling Act (H.R. 425).

The bill would direct the Washington-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to add a fee of up to $10 — to be paid by consumers — on the sales of new computers, monitors and other electronic devices designated by the EPA administrator. The monies would fund EPA grants to local governments, organizations and individuals to carry out computer recycling programs. Manufacturers and retailers that have their own computer recycling programs would be exempt from charging the fee.

If passed, the bill would also require the EPA to study e-waste and develop recommendations for addressing the growing disposal issue.

As technology improves, people are replacing and disposing of their old electronic devices in significant quantities. Roughly 2 million tons of e-waste make their way into landfills each year, according to the EPA. And some environmental groups worry that toxic substances in e-waste could harm human health and the environment. However, solid waste industry members note that there is no evidence that toxic substances leach from e-waste when it is placed in landfills.
Reps. Thompson and Slaughter acknowledged the environmental concerns in introducing the bill. However, the bill has died twice before when it was sent to the Energy and Commerce Committee in 2003 and 2002.

Nevertheless, Thompson has introduced the bill a third time because he believes there is more political momentum for e-waste legislation now, says Matt Gerien, Thompson's press secretary. “E-waste has gained a lot of notice lately in the press,” he says. “We feel like there's a lot more support for the bill right now.”

Chaz Miller, state programs director for the Washington-based National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), is not so sure, and says the chances of the bill passing are “pretty slim.” “With all due respect to the [bill's] authors, they are members of the minority party, and they are not on the committee of jurisdiction,” Miller explains. “If a bill that is similar to this is picked up by a Republican on that committee, then it's going to be taken more seriously politically.” Also, “Congress, for better or worse, has other priorities right now, and they don't see a pressing need to engage this issue.”

NSWMA has yet to take a position on the bill and typically does not do so on legislation until hearings on it are held and debate begins, Miller says. However, the organization supports advance recycling fees or takeback programs to avoid unfunded e-waste recycling mandates, he says.

John Skinner, executive director and CEO of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Md., says his organization supports the bill's concept but has questions about how it would be put into practice. For example, SWANA wants to prevent a situation in which a consumer has paid the fee and then, because of how the funds were distributed geographically, does not have a local system that will take back the material. “We feel that needs to be explored further,” he says.


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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ku Ikaika Challenge

HONOLULU - (February 14, 2008) - Today's inaugural QuikSilverEdition Ku Ikaika Challenge, presented by C4 Waterman and Red Bull, was a hugely successful celebration of the waterman heritage, epic surf and aloha that have been Hawaii's gifts to the world for centuries. Staged in waves that ranged throughout the day from six to 15 feet (wave face heights of 12-30 feet), the world's first big-wave stand up paddle surfing event was more about gathering together to honor a tradition than it was about winning. The first place winner's check of $4,000, ultimately claimed by revered Hawaiian waterman Aaron Napoleon (Pearl City, Oahu, 41), was presented on his behalf to the West Side Junior Lifeguard Foundation. Every surfer in the main event received an equal prize check of $350.

Napoleon surfed through a total of five rounds to win the all-Hawaiian final, charging hard through every round and posting one of the event's two perfect 10-point rides for a huge barrel. Second place today was 24-year-old Keoni Keaulana (Waianae), who was the top-performing member of the highly represented and respected Keaulana family of Makaha. Third place went to big-wave specialist Ikaika Kalama (Waialua, Oahu), and fourth was Kamu Auwae (Waianae).
Of the field of 32 surfers, 24 were from the Hawaiian Islands, four were from California: Scott Bass, Kyle Mochizuki, Chris Mauro and Chuck Patterson; two were from Tahiti: Raimana Van Bastolaer and Arsene Harehoe; and two were from Australia: Jamie Mitchell and Liam Wilmott. There was also one woman in the event: Maui's Tiare Lawrence.

As the oldest competitor in the final at 41, Napoleon had a well of ocean knowledge to draw from today, both from his own lifetime of experience and as the product of one of Hawaii's best known ocean-going families. A top-performer over the years in every salt-water sport on offer, Napoleon attributed his success to good genes and just wanting to have fun.

"If you could have been out there and seen how the water and the waves looked from where I was, it was so beautiful, man, I was in heaven," said Napoleon. "How you goin' beat one guy (sic) that's having fun?

"It wasn't super big, but it was fun.

"My first heat in the trials I kinda really bonked. I told myself that if I get another chance I'm going for it."

On his perfect 10-scoring, 12-foot wave: "I set it up, pulled in there, had some travel time. I could see the jet-skis in the channel and even though I didn't make it out, when I came up it seemed like the crowd was in awe. To get the respect, I'm on cloud nine."

Chuck Patterson (CA) was a standout charger. Photo: towner@coveredimages.com Chuck Patterson followed an identical path to Napoleon through the event, unfortunately falling one heat short of the glory, but not an ounce short on respect earned. Like Napoleon, he only made it out of the trials by virtue of being one of the highest placed thirds (technically only first and second in each heat were advancing, but a couple of vacancies in the seeded main round allowed a couple of top thirds a second shot).

Where Napoleon capitalized on the biggest, most critical waves and a high, racing line, Patterson opted for large open-faced waves and a top-to-bottom sequence of power carves that totally utilized the paddle.

Like Napoleon, Patterson is also an exponent of multiple sports - kite-surfing, big-wave tow-in surfing, snowboarding and skiing. Stand up paddle surfing is his latest passion.

"I'm addicted!" said Patterson, who runs a construction company and cross-trains young athletes when not pursing his own sporting goals. "This new sport is so exciting. It's as much fun as anything I've ever done and it's the most humbling. It has its glorified moments that leaving you feeling amazing, but then you can turn straight around and fall on a small little bump on the water. It's a humanizing experience - you've just got to get back on your feet and start over. You're always learning and it's never boring."

The vibe on the beach said it all today: no commercial hyp, just an intimate crowd of mostly surf-stoked aunties, uncles and families. There couldn't have been a better venue on the planet than Makaha Beach - for natural beauty or waves. Located near the end of the road on the West Side of Oahu, Makaha has long been a paradise for surfers, playing host to the first world championships of surfing more than 50 years ago. Not much has changed around here in that time, and those things that did have now come full circle, like the old beachboy style of stand up paddle surfing that proved without a doubt today that it's back to stay this time.

Ku Ikaika: "Stand Strong". The name for this event came from the name of the non-profit foundation established last year by supporting sponsor of this event, C4 Waterman. The Ku Ikaika Foundation was established to shine a light on the youth that it encourages to stand strong and make strong, positive choices in life.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Digital TV going away 1 year from today!

On February 17, 2009, analog television signals—the mode of TV delivery since the 1940s—will be completely replaced by digital. Here are the basics behind this monumental change, and what it means for TV viewers.

Simply put, a digital signal is an improvement over analog. Analog signals are susceptible to interference or "noise." Digital signals are more efficient, providing better picture and sound, and the opportunity to broadcast multiple content streams.

How dramatic is the digital transition? Eighteen broadcast channels—52 through 69 on the UHF band—will no longer exist. Since digital delivery frees up space, TV broadcasts along those frequencies will be discontinued. Roughly 145 stations in the US currently use those channels, and nearly all will continue on digital channels.The newly available space won't stay empty for long. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has begun accepting auction bids on five portions of the 700 MHz frequency (don't bother unless you have a couple billion dollars). Additionally, a small section, 20 MHz in size, has been set aside for public safety communications.

What will it mean to you when stations and providers cease analog signals in February 2009? That depends on the equipment you useto watch television.There's no need to do anything if:
You subscribe to digital cable TV

You subscribe to satellite TV programming, like DirecTV or DISH Network

You receive over-the-air TV signals with an antenna and digital TV, or antenna and digital tuner
You'll want to take action if:

You have an analog TV and receive signals via antenna. In this case, you'll need to purchase a converter box to watch digital programming The good news: The government is offering converter box coupons worth $40 each.

To learn more and see if you're eligible, visit the TV Converter Box Coupon Program website.
Simple facts about digital TVs:

Any TV shipped after March 1, 2007 must include a digital receiver
There may be some new televisions shipped before March 1 that don't include a digital receiver. In that case, the box must have a sticker explicitly saying so

TVs without digital tuners aren't necessarily "old." For instance, some HDTV models from 2006 are "digital ready"—they'll display digital signals, but only when connected to digital cable or a digital receiver. For these, you may see phrases like "digital monitor" or "HDTV monitor" on the box

Our advice: Read carefully and ask questions if you're not sure. Check your TV manual. Call your cable service. Many of you already watch digital television. For you, our advice is simple: Enjoy.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Waste Management

Waste managers want to combine software systems to automate tasks, increase productivity and overcome problems.


As a scale supervisor for transfer stations operated by Helena, Mont., Kathy Goroski wants a single software application that will handle scale transactions, collections and routing. For years, she's had no luck.

Why, she asks, isn't there a software application that automates all of the information tasks associated with a solid waste management operation — from collection through disposal? Today, her vendors are working out the final details of an integration project that will automate many of those tasks by enabling different software systems to talk to each other.

Waste operation managers across the country are demanding a connection of systems to automate expensive, time-consuming manual tasks. They want the various software applications at work in their organizations to combine forces, swap data and solve costly productivity problems.

Integration in Helena

In Helena, Kathy Goroski's transfer station scales process solid waste for 60,000 residential, commercial and roll-off customers. For years, the facility has used Wilmington, N.C.-based Carolina Software Inc.'s WasteWORKS to automate and record scale house transactions.
Not long ago, the city purchased RAMS-Pro, an application developed by Alpine Technology Corp., Colorado Springs, Colo., to handle route management, billing and other administrative functions. The product provides an automated route manager that re-balances service routes. It also smoothes the wrinkles that solid waste billing systems confront, such as managing letters to customers and handling spreadsheets that tabulate sales quotes.

The system also integrates related tasks. If, for example, a receptionist transfers a phone call to customer service, the account automatically appears on the representative's screen. In addition, the program checks container inventories and generates work orders to have containers delivered. But the system doesn't have scale-house capabilities, Goroski says.

“One day Kathy asked me: ‘Can RAMS-Pro talk to WasteWORKS?’” recalls Jon Leeds, a vice president of Carolina Software. “We talked with Alpine and discovered that we had similar philosophies about data integration and decided we could make it work for Helena.”
Leeds says local governments, haulers and disposal facilities would all benefit from considering how they would like to manipulate information and then working to create partnerships between suppliers rather than purchasing packages and discovering that the two systems can't be made to talk to each other.

While Goroski awaits the integrated software, she is making plans to mine and organize data in ways not possible without the integration. For instance, she wants to evaluate the city's solid waste programs and pricing. Helena residents pay $161 per year for solid waste services, entitling them to once-a-week pickup of a 90-gallon container (additional containers are covered under a pay-as-you-throw program), bulk waste pick-ups and a permit to self-haul two tons of solid waste to the landfill.

“In the past, we have not been able to track how many residents use the bulk-hauling service and the landfill permit,” Goroski says. With the software integration, “I'll be able to track tonnage brought in on permit and bulk orders and determine how often customers use those services.”

“It's possible that a large percentage of our residents use just the weekly collection and never call the bulk truck or use the landfill permit,” she adds. “If that's true, it might be possible to lower residential rates by $40 per year by doing away with the landfill permits. If just a few people use the permits and bulk pick-ups, then we shouldn't charge everyone for those services.”

The integration also will enhance billing services for commercial, roll-off and landfill customers alike. Right now, the city's Solid Waste Department piggybacks on the city's water bills, a system that has worked poorly. Property owners traditionally pay water bills, while tenants pay for waste collection, so the city is, in some cases, sending bills to the wrong person, Goroski notes.
In addition, since there is no room to provide service details, the city can't justify fees on the invoices. As a result, customers call and ask for details. Roll-off customers, for instance, want to know the daily charge, the number of hauls and the tonnage. “We have the details, but we can't put them on the bills,” Goroski says. “So, someone has to take the time to look up the information and provide it to customers.”

The new system will provide two-sided paper bills with details about both collection and transfer station services made possible by the integration. After the integration, Helena also will provide customers with online billing services.

Efficiency in Sacramento Co.

In Sacramento County, Calif., a private contractor processes the county's single-stream recycling collections. The county wants a weekly report from the contractor summarizing the tonnages collected. Up until last year, the contractor exported the data to an Excel file using its own scale-house software. Then, county personnel entered the data by hand into the county's WasteWORKS scale-house software.

Now, the two systems communicate to automatically enter the information into the county's program, says Doug Kobold, program manager for the county's Department of Waste Management and Recycling.

Kobold is planning another system integration. On the collection side, the county uses Routesmart from Columbia, Md.-based Routesmart Technologies Inc. to optimize routes. “It would be great to use information from the scale-house system to give [the routing system] a way to balance routes based on tonnage as well as on a map,” he says.

Kobold also has a small consulting business and is working with a hauling company that wants two of its systems to talk to each other about the commercial and roll-off sides of the business. One system is a routing software package with a billing component. When a truck makes a pick-up, the pick-up is entered in the billing module as a transaction. The second system is the scale-house system that tracks tonnage at disposal sites.

Sometimes, the billing module in the routing system needs tonnage information from the scale-house system to complete its billing work. For example, roll-offs that dispose of more than four tons generate an extra charge. Right now, tonnage data for disposal transactions must be keyed into the routing system.

Kobold's plan is to set up both the routing system and the scale-house system to export relevant data, which a spreadsheet can then combine and make available to the billing system as needed. “Another goal is to get the reporting to a level acceptable to regulators,” Kobold says. “This will require procedures that will send certain tonnage information to one system for reporting purposes and certain tonnage information to the billing system. Tonnages used by the billing system, however, will not be used for reporting.”

Automating Analyses

Last year, Hillsboro Garbage Disposal Inc. in Hillsboro, Ore., converted to PC Scales' Tower 6.0 routing, billing and accounting software. One of the first projects Information Technology Director Jason Barnes set for himself was to use the system's reporting capability to evaluate route profitability. However, the only way to get relevant real time route data from another system into the software was to enter it by hand. “We didn't want to get caught up in mass data entry that can occur when using incompatible software applications,” Barnes says.

So, Barnes integrated Tower 6.0 with the Routeware Back Office software, which works in conjunction with Routeware's on-board computer system. “The on-boards give us the actual time of service we need to evaluate route profitability and efficiency,” he says. “Additionally, we can analyze profitability at the individual customer level using drive time to location, time spent servicing containers and time spent traveling to the next customer.”

The integration has made it possible for data to move back and forth between the two systems. As a result, Hillsboro can view the data using reporting features from either application. “This eliminates the need to manually import and export data between the two applications,” Barnes says.

Helena's Goroski probably won't get her wish of one all-encompassing solid waste software capable of operating on an enterprise level. The market seems too small to support such an undertaking. Still, vendors across the industry are talking to customers about integrating their products with others. To facilitate those integrations, many software application packages are becoming less proprietary and more capable of combining forces.

Michael Fickes is a Westminster, Md.-based contributing writer.

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