Sustainable NCW launches a powerful online recycling resource for the region
am impressed with the slick new online community resource called Waste Wizard that was recently launched by the local nonprofit Sustainable NCW. For those of us who want to find creative ways to send less stuff to the landfill, the Waste Wizard is a dream come true.
Ever since she launched the organization, founder Jana Fischback has been fielding a steady stream of requests from community members who are wondering what options there are for reusing or recycling all kinds of materials, from plastic and styrofoam to paint, solvents and tires.
I met with Fischback and board member Rick Edwards recently to learn more about the new online resource, which should cut down dramatically on those community requests. Along with board member Jenny Montgomery, they’ve been the driving force behind launching Waste Wizard.
The Waste Wizard website was developed by ReCollect, a Vancouver, B.C.-based company that provides digital infrastructure. That company is working with municipalities as well as some nonprofits like Sustainable NCW to create an easy-to-use online tool so that individuals and businesses can easily discover ways to recycle and reuse materials. Users can toggle between English and Spanish, with translations provided by Google Translate.
Originally, Fischback and Edwards were thinking that they would need to spend $30,000 or more to build their own database, but discovered ReCollect’s solution that came with a price tag of $3,000 per year.
That annual subscription model makes a whole lot more financial sense. Sustainable NCW is seeking ongoing financial support from the solid waste programs in Chelan and Douglas counties, which would seem like a no-brainer because the counties have a vested interest in reducing the amount of waste in landfills.
At the present time, you can access the Waste Wizard through the nonprofit’s website, sustainablencw.org. But one of the compelling features of using ReCollect is that the Waste Wizard widget can be used by partner organizations.
They recently signed on Wenatchee Rescue Mission as a “widget partner” for a nominal fee and the funds because they receive donated items they can’t use and want community members to find the best place for them. These widget partners will fund the ongoing marketing that will need to be done to build awareness.
Having a central resource for ways to reduce, reuse and recycle in Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties makes intuitive sense to enhance what communities are already doing.
Edwards said they soft-launched the Waste Wizard application on Earth Day. By early June, the site had more than 1,000 views of materials by nearly 500 users. When you access the widget through the Sustainable NCW website, it shows you what people are searching for most. When I viewed the site, the popular searches included glass bottles, batteries, styrofoam and corrugated cardboard.
Users can search for specific items and see what options are available to recycle those items. When I searched for household cleaners, the site suggested donating new or partially used containers of household products. To dispose of those items, Chelan County residents can use the Moderate Risk Hazardous Waste Facility on Highway 97A north of Wenatchee, I learned.
One of the benefits of having the Waste Wizard resource is that it will build greater public awareness of recycling, reusing and reducing waste.
The Waste Wizard will be continuously refined and improved over time as users provide feedback.
“A lot of people want to do the right thing” when it comes to sending less junk to the landfill, said Fischback. The Waste Wizard tool gives community members a quick and easy way to figure out the best way to dispose of 361 materials, through 96 waste streams and 119 places to drop off the materials.
Hats off to Fischback, Edwards and the rest of the Sustainable NCW crew for discovering and launching Waste Wizard for our region.