How Afval loont Makes an Environmental Impact By Building an App In Just 3 Months
Afval loont was founded in 2011 with the mission to make it easier for individuals to have a lighter impact on nature through recycling waste. The team at Afval loont has developed an innovative program that incentivizes individuals to separate recyclable materials when disposing of it at one of seven recycle shops in five municipalities in The Netherlands. Participants are paid per kilogram of recyclable waste and they have the option to keep the incentive themselves or donate to a charity of their choice.
Since the program started, there has been an increase in the number of participants who are proactively separating and recycling their household waste. The program started without any participants in 2011, and at the end of that same year, this number grew to 11,000 people. Nowadays around 37,000 people are actively participating in the program. As a result of this program, there is a reduction in the amount of waste going to incinerators which reduces CO2 emissions and the program supports the production of goods made with recyclable materials such as plastic, paper, metal, and fabrics.
The success of the program is due to Afval loont’s focus on developing innovative technology that makes it easy to have effective one-on-one communication with participants. The team has taken a technology-first approach to deliver a great customer experience that has resulted in consistent program participation.
However, it hasn’t always been a smooth digital journey. When the company first developed an application using traditional application development six years ago, it quickly became outdated and inflexible as user adoption grew and different municipalities had different expectations. The application needed to be customized; For example, some municipalities wanted a particular design for the application. In addition, the types of waste collected and the amount of money that the participants are given for it vary by municipality. Therefore, the application needed to scale as new users adopted it and be flexible to meet the differing needs of each municipality.
Building Technology for Better Customer Engagement
The team at Afval loont sought the software development expertise from a software implementation company who has experience in the waste management sector. 21South built an application using Mendix low-code application development in less than one day to share with Afval loont. The application was a simple version of the primary functionality that Afval loont was looking to rebuild. Low-code application development significantly shortened the development time and the iterative development approach made it possible for the team to make edits in real-time based on input from end-users. Even without programming skills, Afval loont was able to work closely together with the developers of 21South. In a very short time of approximately three months, a completely new application with a modern look and feel was built that could scale as new users were added.
The Final Solution
With the need to develop faster and improve customer engagement, Afval loont leveraged the Mendix Platform to build their solution. The first version of the application included a unique QR code for each participant to scan when they entered a recycling shop so that their recycling amount could be tracked and they would be paid accordingly. As the application continued to grow, the team created a dashboard view so that users could track the kilos of waste handed in, euros earned, and CO2 emissions reduced. In later iterations of the application, integrations with other programs including, email newsletters, push messages, shop navigation and an option to donate money directly were added to support the specific needs of all users.
IT is playing an increasingly important role in contacting individuals and mobilizing groups. Thanks to the collaboration with 21South and the transition to Mendix, Afval loont is ready for future developments in the waste sector. I am most proud of the hybrid app that was made for the mobile phone. This means that our participants can control their entire account at hand, view their savings results in real time, transfer savings balances, navigate to branch locations – all increasing the involvement of our participants.” – Mario Sol, the IT leader of the project.
The application makes it possible for Afval loont to interact with participants one-on-one by sending individual reminders to participants who have slowed down on recycling. As an added social-good component, participants can opt to donate the money they receive to a social organization directly in the application. The application makes it easy for the end-user to change at any time whether they save the money themselves or donate it.