The price-performance ratio is just fantastic!
Wolfgang Germ is Vice-Mayor of the Carinthian state capital Klagenfurt am Wörthersee and chairman of the Klagenfurt Waste Management Association, which encompasses the city authority plus the authorities of 19 surrounding districts. Together, they have been satisfied customers of the Waste App (or “Müll App”, as it’s known in German) since 2016. This interview gives insights into the reasons that drove the purchase and the experiences they’ve had since.
Vice-Mayor Germ, how did you become aware of the Müll App?
I was introduced to the product in a meeting with two of the Symvaro team. What piqued my interest straightaway was how coherent and simple the solution is – the benefits to residents were completely self-evident from the start. I thought, “That would be a great thing for Klagenfurt”. In addition to this, five of our 19 local authorities were already using the Müll App. I spoke to all five, and the feedback was very positive. I knew that I had to implement it uniformly for all local authorities in our association, which I did. Today, all 19 mayors are thrilled with how the Müll App is working.
You mentioned that the advantages for residents are self-evident. How would you describe these?
We’re dealing with different fractions. Different bins. The “Gelber Sack” [“Yellow Sack”, the receptacle used for packaging waste in Austria and Germany]. The intervals are always different, depending on the zone. As a resident, it’s easy to lose track of things and forget to put the bin out – but you continue to produce rubbish nevertheless, which results in inconvenience. Thanks to the Müll App, residents receive accurate, reliable reminders about what bin to put out when – the evening before the collection, for example. Push notifications mean they’re kept up to date, the service is perfectly designed and residents feel well-equipped and served. This is how a modern residents’ service should work!
Thank you. But how did you mange to successfully introduce it?
Well, first off: the price-performance ratio is just fantastic! But it was clear to me that if I was going to spend money, it needed to be properly implemented. We used the channels available to use, like the city newspaper and the the website. We also organised a press conference attended by a number of journalists, and the media report on the app’s ongoing success. But the key thing is that word has spread among residents. Word-of-mouth has worked perfectly, and we now have more than 7,400 active app users. Our original goal was 5,000, and we’re now not far off the 10,000 mark.
The Müll App provides reliable reminders. But what are the other ways you use the solution?
We use the app – or rather, the Waste Information Portal – on a very intensive basis. The “News” module, for example, is increasingly used to deliver relevant information directly to residents’ telephones. Let me give you a few examples. (Mr. Germ takes his phone out, opens the Müll App and reads aloud).
- Christmas comes with lots of waste: how do we go about separating it properly?
- Easter means all the trappings – but where does the waste go?
- Where are our waste collection points?
- What goes in the Yellow Sack?
- What can I do with old regular and rechargeable batteries?
- We advertised our new service brochure
- We held a survey about collection habits
- We advertised our book containers, which were very well received
- What do with old clothes: our textile collection points, and I saw much bigger amounts collected as a result
In short: waste separation is the best form of environmental protection! And the Waste App is invaluable to us in achieving it.
Do you also get feedback from residents?
(laughs) Oh yes, we get a huge amount. Just recently, a woman approached me in the city and said, “Mr. Germ, what a great idea it was to introduce the Waste App.” She was right! And I say that with full conviction.
We’ve almost reached the end of our questions. But first – what recommendations would you give to other cities, local authorities and associations who might be interested in a solution like the Müll App?
I would offer different advice to each. To mayors, I’d recommend the Müll App because it’s an optimal way of providing information to residents and an optimal communication platform. To employees of cities, local authorities and associations who are responsible for waste, I’d recommend the solution based on its many – partially interactive – services, which range from “Tonne kaputt” (“Broken bin”) to “Wo bekomme ich einen gelben Sack” (“Where do I get a Yellow Sack?”). These brings massive benefits to residents and reduce the administrative workload.
Mr. Vice-Mayor, many thanks for your time and your insights.
Many thanks also to the Müll App team, good luck with the ongoing digitalisation of waste management! I’ll certainly be along for the ride.