— By Carmine J. Esposito —
10 waste management myths that cost you time and money — and how to choose the right company for your needs.
Commercial waste management often bears a reputation for being costly, time consuming and complex to manage across multiple locations. While this can be true if you work with some companies, or try to handle the job yourself, not all waste management providers are the same. However, most facilities managers and purchasing directors don’t possess the in-depth waste industry experience to realize when they’re getting a raw deal, or to know which industry-specific questions to ask in order to choose the best vendor.
To help you sort through what’s real and what’s rubbish (pun intended!), we’re dispelling 10 widespread waste management myths. Check out our tips to secure a fair deal on high-quality service from a reliable commercial waste services provider.
- It doesn’t matter who handles my waste.
The truth is, which waste management company you choose can make all the difference. If you’re consistently experiencing late pickups or overflowing receptacles, it’s time to dump your current provider.
A proactive waste management consultant will not only help you plan for peak seasons, special events and temporary changes to your waste removal needs, they will also return your service levels back to normal after the event has concluded. Choose a management company that will analyze your locations and determine which ones require a pre-approved service increase for seasonal situations, while avoiding across-the-board seasonal changes.
A responsible waste partner won’t let just anybody service your locations; vendors should be carefully screened for compliance and appropriate insurance coverage. The ideal commercial waste services provider will also maintain relationships with a large network of vendors and possess the leverage to negotiate preferred rates. With this high level of consideration in the hauler selection process, your locations will experience clean, consistent pickups without any service interruptions.
To test if a waste services company will work proactively on your behalf, ask what steps they take to protect you from unexpected waste fee increases or surcharges.
- Waste removal price increases are impossible to avoid.
Unfortunately, this is a common misperception. The truth is that you can avoid many unexpected price increases by negotiating with reputable haulers and carefully reviewing all bills before allowing a price increase to pass through.
Instead of fighting with vendors over individual invoices, search for a waste management consultant that is skilled at identifying erroneous cost increases. Look for providers with enough industry experience to determine whether a surcharge is reasonable or improper. Your waste management partner should not only audit your waste invoices on a regular basis to assess the validity of any fee increases, but more importantly, should possess a solid track record for mitigating those price increases. Ask to see a reduction scorecard or similar report.
Additionally, the company you choose should be able to demonstrate the structured systems they use to resolve invoice issues, contest price increases and ensure billing accuracy. Ask your provider to explain the resources they allocate to this process.
- Waste companies don’t understand my business.
A waste management company with decades of experience can provide invaluable insights into your toughest waste operations challenges and the best ways to solve them. A company that works closely with, and really listens to, their customers will know what works and what doesn’t — and they should pass that knowledge on to you at every opportunity.
Partner with a waste management consultant that has helped many companies like yours and can share their informed and industry-specific advice.
- Recycling and regulatory compliance is hard work.
We hear that one over and over. A consolidated waste management broker can actually make recycling and regulatory compliance easier.
Compliance with waste regulations becomes much less stressful when you only contract with proven, reliable haulers. Ask your waste management company how it screens vendors for environmental compliance. Do they check to ensure haulers are not only sufficiently insured, but also have a system in place to monitor the certificates of insurance after the originals have expired?
If you work with a consolidated waste management service, your consultant can leverage the services of local haulers from their preferred network. These small businesses provide your locations with personalized care and possess in-depth knowledge of local regulations and applicable state laws. Check to see if your provider has a department that continuously monitors the changing regulations locally, regionally and nationally.
- I can never get my waste collector on the phone.
If you have to work hard to get in touch with someone who is supposed to be working hard for you, you’ve called the wrong company.
Demand a dedicated account manager who knows your business, your unique needs and the best way to help you save money, time and hassles. You should have a direct line to your service provider, whether via the phone or through a dedicated and constantly monitored email inbox. Customer service interactions should yield a prompt, insightful response and your account manager should have a strong relationship with you and each of the locations they manage for you.
- Waste removal will always be expensive.
Let’s throw away that notion. Waste management and removal doesn’t have to be expensive — but it can be costly if you use the wrong company or if you are handling it yourself without enough resources.
Waste removal gets pricey when your provider becomes complacent with its service and stops evaluating your waste stream for new opportunities. There are many ways their inattention can cost you money. For example, as business activity fluctuates at your locations, your provider must periodically check your locations’ waste output compared to bin size and pickup rates. If they don’t, you could be paying for more frequent pickups than you need or wasting money on a bin that’s larger than you need.
Look for commercial waste services providers that take a proactive approach to right-sizing your waste receptacles and optimizing pickup rates. You want to partner with a company that continually evaluates your waste stream for new source reduction or diversion opportunities. These types of programs can reduce the amount you pay in landfill fees and sometimes yield other financial benefits in energy savings or reduced pickup costs.
- Optimizing waste across all my locations takes too much of my time.
While waste stream optimization does take time, it doesn’t need to take up yours. There’s a better way. A strong waste services broker will take on all your waste disposal contracts, gather information they learn from all of your locations, and apply that knowledge to search for savings and optimization opportunities across each of your locations, customizing services accordingly.
Choose a waste services company that specializes in multi-location waste management. These vendors understand how small service adjustments made across each of your locations can add up to big savings for customers.
- For 50 locations, I have to deal with 50 waste invoices and dozens of haulers.
You can toss this idea. A consolidated waste management company will review and pay invoices on your behalf, so you only need to review one report every month.
To get the best customer experience, search for a partner who offers you one point of contact, regardless of where your sites are located, and who takes a managed approach to vendor relations. This means they work directly with haulers on the day-to-day maintenance of your waste removal program. If an issue occurs, such as a late or missed pickup, they work to resolve the issue promptly, without passing the headache on to you. Instead of keeping track of multiple haulers, your account manager becomes the one point of contact for all your locations.
- I can’t control when or how often my waste is picked up.
Your waste services schedule should always work for you. A trained waste management consultant can help you determine the ideal pickup frequency for each of your locations.
If you feel trapped in an inefficient waste collection schedule, ask your provider to perform a waste audit or launch a rightsizing initiative to adjust your pickup frequency. These activities may include tonnage measurements or waste stream evaluations, so that they can identify alternate pickup options, such as recycling or diversion opportunities.
Understand that some waste management consultants are affiliated with hauling companies, while others are independent. The latter option offers more flexibility to change waste vendors if your current hauler’s routes or equipment offerings no longer match your needs.
- My waste services provider never looks out for my best interests.
Depends on who you work with — if your hauling company also owns landfills, the chances are they are not looking too hard for diversion opportunities that will save you money on landfill fees.
To lower your waste bill, choose an integrated waste management provider that is independent from hauler or landfill interests. These consultants stake their reputation and business on saving you money, so you can be confident in the knowledge that you’re getting good advice. A strong partner should be able to quantify how they positively impact their customers each year. Don’t settle for a ‘set it and forget it’ partner. Your business is likely more complicated than that.
Additionally, waste management companies that focus heavily on commercial recycling may push you too hard or too soon to implement an aggressive recycling program, before your locations are ready or the market is fully developed. This pressure can be confusing and may ultimately cost you money if it forces you to maintain unprofitable or unsustainable commercial recycling programs.
Your commercial waste services partner should present opportunities to optimize your waste stream through reduction, recycling or diversion programs — without pressuring you to take on expensive green initiatives that are not suitable for your business.
— Carmine J. Esposito is president of National Waste Associates, LLC, located in Glastonbury, Connecticut. NWA, a leader in managed waste services, is a privately owned, dynamic company built on four generations of waste and recycling experience. For more info, visit www.nationalwaste.com.