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Delaware Consolidates Statewide Recycling Info to Single App

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control recently relaunched a consolidated online resource to improve recycling efforts across the state. The tool offers a one-stop shop for residents and industry.

A conveyor in a processing plant covered in a mound of plastic water bottles.
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) new and improved web-based application puts all of the state’s recycling information in one place for residents and industry.

The solution, known as Recyclopedia, was created by iWasteNot Systems and is being administered by the DNREC Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances, according to Adam Schlachter, DNREC’s waste management and reduction branch manager.

The resource, which can be accessed from any Internet-enabled device, offers users a pictorial guide for common items, how to recycle or dispose of them and the nearest locations to do so.
Screenshot of Recyclopedia, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s platform for the state’s recycling information.
Screenshot of Recyclopedia, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s platform for the state’s recycling information.
The resource has been in progress for years, ultimately dating back to Delaware’s Universal Recycling Law being signed in June 2010. That legislation requires waste haulers that provide residential trash collection services to include a recycling collection service and that businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations and government agencies participate in a universal recycling program.

“Delaware is fairly unique in that we have a single recycling program for the entire state,” Schlachter stated.

Sometimes, however, the messaging gets complicated because multiple haulers participate in this recycling market.

“It really equalizes the playing field so that the smaller municipality has the same access to the right information that the larger municipality has,” he stated. “So, it’s definitely an equalizing tool.”

This particular structure works well in Delaware because of the state’s size, though he noted that replicating the tool would look different in a larger state and would likely need an overarching entity to take an ownership role.

Recyclopedia was “soft launched” about two years ago, and during that time, the governor’s Recycling Public Advisory Council was able to share the tool with industry and public groups with a vested interest in improving recycling in the state.

This soft launch created an opportunity for feedback and questions, as well as information about how people are searching within the platform. For example, user research helped the DNREC team see that people were searching the term “soda cans” rather than “aluminum cans.” This feature allows for DNREC to assess needs and behavior and adjust the platform as needed.

The platform collects data on usage in real time, enabling access to daily statistics of the system; Schlachter said he expects DNREC to assess on a monthly basis.

He noted that because markets and recycling rules often change in this industry, it was important that the platform is easily managed and instantly changeable. Before the launch of Recyclopedia, information came from many disparate sources.

“That, to me, is really where this as a tool becomes incredibly valuable, because the hardest thing to do is to make sure everyone has access to the most up-to-date information.”
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.