Multilingual Technology for Recycling Behavior Change


City of San José


Communications, Process Improvement, Digitization, Resident Engagment, Natural Language Processing


Budget Exists

Procurement Method:

View doc

Application Period:

December 11, 2019


February 7, 2020 3:59 PM

Q&A Period:

December 11, 2019 - January 17, 2020


The San José Environmental Services Department is seeking automated, accurate solution to help transcreate our website,, to Spanish and Vietnamese in order to improve residential recycling behavior for our limited and non-English speaking residents.


The Environmental Services Department (ESD) provides recycling and garbage services to more than 320k residential households of both single-family and multi-family dwellings through four contracted service providers as a part of the City’s Recycle Plus program. The program is driven by key California solid waste laws – AB939, SB1826, AB341, and SB1383 – as well as City initiatives including the City of San José Zero Waste Strategic Plan and Climate Smart San José. 

China’s “National Sword” policy, implemented in March 2018, has made recycling market conditions uncertain, increasing the urgency and necessity of recycling behavior change. To drive this behavior change, the City has launched expanded and targeted outreach campaigns to educate and encourage residents to Recycle Right, by keeping food and liquid out of the recycling cart. Part of this effort is the launch of, a comprehensive website designed to make it easier for San José residents to Recycle Right. However, the website is currently only available in English. Residents can use Google translate for other languages, yet these translations are not managed by the City and do not allow graphic or video content to be translated, leading to domain-specific errors, miseducation, and missing information. 

The above results in: 
·         Translation errors and miseducation 
·         Incorrect recycling behaviors 
·         Inefficiencies for services providers 
·         Lack of resident confidence in recycling

Requirements & Outcome

The City of San José Environmental Services Department seeks a solution that would have the following characteristics:
  •  Automated translation of from English version to Spanish and Vietnamese, while maintaining intent, style, tone, and context
  •  High quality machine translations with environmental services domain focus
  •  Translation workflows for project management
  •  Analytics and reporting for measuring, communicating, and improving translation performance