Two recent university grads have developed innovative new tools to move, reuse and track excess soil generated from construction projects in Ontario.
“The landscape for moving soil is transforming in Ontario and we really believe we can make an impact and help earth movers win in this digital space,” said Asad Jalib, president of Dirt Technologies, which is based in the Greater Toronto Area.
“There are going to be a lot of things that earth movers in Ontario are going to need in order to be better, faster and more competitive.”
With a focus on diverting soil loads from landfills and curbing illegal dumping activity, Dirt Technologies has two offerings: DirtMarket and DirtTrack.
DirtMarket was launched in early January.
“It’s really a soil reuse marketplace that is exclusively for construction materials, anything from clean fill, topsoil, mulch,” said Emma Kirwin, vice-president, Dirt Technologies.
“DirtMarket is for excavators, landscapers, medium-sized construction teams as well as haulage companies. Members on the site can indicate whether they have or need materials and they can automatically connect with one another. It connects people who are close to each other but just don’t actually know about each other.”
Jalib, president of Brock University Students’ Union and Kirwin, president of The Brock Press, recently graduated from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont. In March, the duo won the Monster Pitch competition for the DirtMarket solution and were awarded a prize of $11,000. The idea for the tool was born when Jalib’s father’s business was impacted by illegal dumping.
“My father is a property developer in Toronto and one of the sites he was working on actually dealt with illegal dumping,” said Jalib. “Somebody came and dumped about 10 truckloads of soil on his property and it ended up costing him $90,000 to have it removed. Thankfully insurance covered the cost, but it really turned us onto thinking about ‘OK why is this happening and is there something that we can do to help in this situation?’ ”
DirtMarket now has over 350 users, with two million yards of material either needed or offered. If a “soil-mate” is not found initially, an email will be sent when there is a new post that does match the need.
“What they are being able to do now is connect directly with different sites that are offering or needing soil instead of taking soil to a landfill.
“They can save money on fees at landfills or expensive transportation costs,” said Kirwin, adding based on feedback, they saved some users up to $50,000. “One party really wants to get rid of it and one party really needs it.”
DirtTrack, a digital app and tracking system, was launched last month.
In January, the first phase of Ontario’s new On-Site and Excess Soil Management Regulation, O. Reg 406/19, came into effect introducing a new framework for the excavation, removal and transport of excess soils. Dirt Technologies’ tools are intended to help users meet the requirements of the new regulations.
“One thing we noticed come up again and again as people were starting to use the site to move the soils is they were asking what are you doing about soil tracking regulations?” explained Jalib. “So we built this tool. It’s a digital app that helps construction teams, transportation companies and fill sites perform regulation compliant soil tracking within a few minutes from their phone. It saves them time and reduces costs.”
The second phase of the regulations come into effect in January 2022 and going digital will make record keeping easier, he noted.
“We pretty much digitized that process down to a few button clicks,” Jalib said, adding source sites, drivers and receiving sites can easily collect and show data and documents relating to their loads.
“Either they are going to have to do it whether they are writing all this information down or they are going to do it digitally, so we have built this very simple platform to help them do it digitally and avoid some of the potential errors. Of course when you have something online you can hold onto the records and communicate with all parties involved so everybody has the right information.”
Kirwin and Jalib are continuing to improve DirtTrack as they receive feedback from users. Because the software is built in house new iterations can be released to improve user experience.
“Just recently we learned that a lot of truck drivers, they don’t have the capacity to download an app especially when they are driving,” Jalib explained. “However, if a provincial officer pulls a truck driver over they would have to provide eight different data points to that provincial officer. We just launched this feature where we send a link to every single truck driver with all the information of the load that they are carrying and with one button click they can pull up all that information.”
DirtMarket is free to use and DirtTrack requires a subscription. For more information visit DirtMarket — Ontario’s Largest Clean Fill Marketplace.
Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela.