Organizations of all types are interested in smart waste management and new recycling technology. Integrating new sustainability initiatives within an organization often starts by issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP). But while RFPs are a standard process throughout the purchasing and acquisition worlds, there always remains an inherent challenge in writing one from scratch. 

To make this process even more efficient, we have created templates for RFI and RFP that you can download for free.

Smart waste management also draws on a wide variety of technologies and services, which can make writing a simple RFP become much more complicated. The CleanRobotics team would like to share four great steps in creating a strong RFP with the optimal level of detail and technical requests of potential vendors. The better the RFP, the better the vendor response, and the more likely your organization will be able to make an educated selection. 

Step One: Introduce Your Organization and the Challenge 

Vendors will be interested in learning as much relevant information as they can about your organization and the use case for their recycling technology. Describing your organization, how it operates, and its sustainability policy will help vendors understand if they can provide a good solution for your organization.  

Step Two: Clearly-Defined Goals 

A strong RFP is defined by its clarity. Vendors will be more responsive and more apt to provide the information with clearly articulated RFP goals:  

Waste Stream Improvement: Better control of the existing waste stream – in which you will need to explain what recycling technology is likely needed to accomplish this. A description of your current efforts will be helpful. 

Meeting Established Sustainability Goals: A stronger ability to meet established corporate or organizational sustainability objectives – your vendor will be interested in knowing what your targeted, quantifiable objective(s) are and if there is a timeline for meeting these objectives. 

Municipal Compliance: The need to meet local recycling or waste requirements – these should be clearly stated in the proposal. Alternatively, the RFP can direct vendors to the applicable municipal website for more detailed information. 

Specific Problem/Solution: Solving a specific sustainability problem or concern – vendors will want to know what that issue is so they can propose the best solution 

Step Three: Communicate Parameters 

Strong RFPs provide answers to questions that vendors will ask. Make sure that your proposal includes: 

Timeline: An expected implementation timeline – in return, vendors can provide a clear outline of when and how they would implement their technologies. 

Technology Description: A clear description of the type of recycling technology your organization is seeking – smart bins, robotics, AI-based technology, etc. 

Project Concept: An initial but general project concept – i.e., how many units are needed, where they could be placed, likely usage, required number of waste streams, etc.  

Known Parameters/Limitations: Any limitations or challenges that could affect the project – staffing, infrastructure, etc.

Pricing Structure: Anticipated pricing template, including how you expect costs to be broken down – purchase, leasing, support, licensing, etc. 

Providing detailed information serves two purposes: it helps vendors create comprehensive proposals, but it also reduces the chance that a vendor will provide an unfeasible or unworkable proposal. Instead, the vendor is more likely to realize that they aren’t a good fit and decline to submit a proposal. 

In many instances, the final details of an RFP will not likely be decided until a vendor has been selected and a final contract is in the works. But general details help create a level playing field as vendors will be responding to the same parameters. 

Step Four: All the Details 

While much of the focus in writing a strong RFP is on the project itself, don’t forget to include the basic foundational details. This includes: 

Process: Proposal deadline and review process, including intended review period and likely decision time, next steps, and how companies will be contacted during the process.

Submission Method: How you would like the proposal submitted (electronically via email, by mail, through a web-based submission, etc.) as well as if single or multiple copies must be submitted.

Media: Parameters for how supplemental/required media (videos or video links) can/cannot be submitted.

Proposal Format: What format the proposal should be in (PDF, slide deck, etc.)

Contact Information: Basic contact information for soliciting questions during the RFP process and for the final submission itself.

Questions: If there is a defined Q&A period, clearly state it and how questions are being submitted and answered.

Evaluation Criteria: Any helpful evaluation criteria or scoring process, at your discretion.

Finally, regardless of the RFP selected, it’s courteous to notify all vendors that a decision has been made at each round of the process.