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Waste Management and GPS: Keeping Communities Clean Rastrac Team | Oct 19, 2020 2:19:20 PM

Waste management is a year-round concern for any community. Whether trash collection is handled by a municipal agency or by a private company contracted to provide a waste management solution, citizens will quickly notice any deficiencies in this service.

Keeping garbage trucks and street maintenance vehicles operating in a safe, timely, and efficient manner is key for meeting municipal sanitation goals and keeping voters happy. After all, if trash trucks are late picking up waste, there’s an increased risk of foul odors, road debris, and even health hazards from uncollected garbage. Any of these issues could be cause for serious complaints.


GPS fleet management software can be incredibly useful for both municipalities and private waste management companies.


What Is GPS Tracking for Waste Management?

GPS tracking is the practice of using GPS devices (either mounted on vehicles or carried by employees) to verify the location of specific assets or personnel in the field. In waste management, GPS devices are often used to monitor trash trucks and street sweeping vehicles.

More and more waste management companies are turning to GPS tracking software to improve their services. With the installation of GPS tracking devices onto all of their trucks, fleet managers are able to keep a watchful eye on their entire fleet of vehicles. They are able to see in real time where each vehicle is located while it’s working.


Rastrac’s StreetComplete software plugin is an incredibly useful tool that enables fleet managers to track and monitor waste management services in real time via an interactive, color-coded map. With StreetComplete, it’s easy to view what streets or routes have been serviced, how long ago, and by whom. This will display what routes have not yet been collected and will change colors as the route collection is completed.


In the event that a truck breaks down, waste fleet managers also can use the GPS fleet management software’s live tracking capability to view what other vehicles are available nearby that can be reassigned to cover the route.


What Are the Benefits of Using GPS Tracking for Waste Management?

There are several key benefits of using GPS fleet management tools for a waste management fleet:

Improved Time Management

With GPS fleet management software, it’s possible to track not only where fleet vehicles are, but where they’ve been and how long it took for the vehicle to move from point A to point B. This makes it possible to track how efficiently drivers are moving along their assigned routes.

By taking advantage of this capability, fleet managers can turn their waste management GPS tracking systems into time management systems. This helps to keep drivers focused and on-task so that time, labor, and fuel aren’t wasted in the field.

Of course, this does require that the GPS device has a fleet management software capable of logging GPS data.

Better Route Planning

While the routes and times for normal garbage collection operations are mostly stable, the route planning for municipal street cleaning might be a bit less regular. Street cleaning vehicles may have to make detours around road construction, or be called out to pick up potentially dangerous street debris outside of their normal route.

With GPS tracking for sanitation vehicles, fleet managers can easily find detours around a road obstruction. Additionally, locating the street cleaning asset that’s closest to the street debris is made easier with GPS tracking. This helps to minimize the time it takes to get dangerous debris off the road.

Optimized Vehicle Maintenance Scheduling

Maintenance is a huge issue for waste management and sanitation vehicles. Dump trucks and lighter street cleaning vehicles alike have a constant need for maintenance.

Without sufficient maintenance, vehicles can break down on the road. This not only prevents the vehicle and its crew from completing their work, it results in costly roadside service and maintenance. On the other hand, too much maintenance can be wasteful of your municipal maintenance budget.

Thankfully, many modern GPS devices do more than just log position data.

For example, some GPS systems can integrate with a vehicle’s on-board diagnostics system to provide key engine performance data. Armed with this information, fleet managers can spot changes in performance that may indicate a need for preventative maintenance.

By fixing these issues with a little preventative maintenance before they become full-blown failures, fleet managers can keep their garbage trucks on the road. Even better, most preventative maintenance measures cost far less than emergency roadside repair services.

Improved Customer Dispute Management

Waste management companies are frequently bombarded with claims that trash collection services were not completed. These claims are often paired with requests for a garbage truck to be dispatched to collect a single residence’s trash.


With the remote diagnostics capability found on some GPS devices, it’s possible to log events such as the activation of the garbage collection arm. Combined with logs of garbage truck position data, it’s possible to verify if and when the truck passed by the dispute location.

This can be a powerful tool for verifying that collection services were rendered at the appropriate time and resolving disputes with customers about waste management services.

Increased Driver Safety

Municipal trash collection vehicles tend to be big and top-heavy. This makes garbage trucks harder to safely stop, accelerate, and turn than most other vehicles.

While fleet managers might hope that their drivers are following appropriate safety guidelines on the road, it’s important to monitor driver behaviors such as driving speed, acceleration, and turning habits on a per-driver basis.


GPS tracking devices can be used to keep track of driving behaviors on the road—allowing fleet managers to quickly identify and correct bad behaviors. This is vital for maintaining a safe vehicle fleet.


Regardless of the size of your waste management vehicle fleet, a GPS fleet management solution is a vital resource to help your operation run as smoothly as possible. Trash collection and street cleaning can be made more efficient when you have actionable data to use when planning and making decisions. GPS tracking for waste management contributes to cleaner and safer streets year-round.


To learn more about how you can make your waste management operations more efficient, download our free eBook by clicking on the image below.

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