From creating a strong company culture to addressing environmental issues and focusing on the future development of key initiatives, American Waste Control reflects on 2022 and moving forward in 2023.
By Paul Ross
As we embrace the challenges and opportunities of 2023, I am excited to share the latest advancements and initiatives at American Waste Control. We are focusing on fire prevention, fleet management, and employee well-being, while staying committed to our core values and environmental responsibility. Join us as we continue to innovate and serve our community!
Looking back on 2022, I have seen that on the recycling side of our business, fire prevention has become a major priority, not only at our recycling facility, Tulsa Recycle & Transfer (TRT), but also across the country. With a staggering 390 waste and recycling facility fires reported in the U.S. and Canada in 2022, it is clear that this issue demands our attention. At AWC, we are committed to addressing this issue head-on by placing a strong emphasis on enhancing fire safety measures for our trucks and recycling facility. We aim to protect our employees, assets, and the environment by proactively tackling this problem. To address this challenge after a recent fire in our recycling facility, we implemented cutting-edge fire detection and prevention systems. These measures, combined with our new AI recycling robots, ensure the safety of our employees and the community while maximizing operational efficiency. In 2023, I expect continued attention to this nationwide problem and recycling education as more consumer goods include lithium-ion batteries. Recycling education will also play a crucial role in addressing this issue. I believe that the implementation of AI and state-of-the-art fire detection and prevention systems in our trucks and recycling facility will become the norm across our fleet and the industry at large.
As the waste and recycling industry continues to innovate and prioritize sustainability, garbage truck fleets will evolve in the coming years. While CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) has been an important transitional technology, offering an alternative to diesel, more organizations are likely to transition to electric trucks as the technology advances and becomes more widely available. As this infrastructure continues to expand, it will further support the adoption of electric trucks in the waste and recycling industry. At AWC, although we have not yet planned to purchase electric collection trucks, we are keeping a close eye on developments in the industry and are excited about the potential benefits that electric and other advanced technologies can bring to our operations. In fact, we have recently acquired two electric bulldozers by Caterpillar at our landfill, American Environmental Landfill (AEL). This investment has already shown great benefits in 2023, and we see this trend continuing over the next decade. As the industry continues to evolve, AWC remains committed to embracing innovations that improve our efficiency, enhance safety, and minimize our environmental impact. Just in the first quarter of 2023, Tulsa, OK has seen several new electric charger stations installed across the city. This is a positive trend towards electric fleet adoption.
The supply chain challenges we have faced this year have certainly impacted operations, inventory, and acquiring new equipment in the waste and recycling industry. In my experience, companies have been adapting and finding innovative ways to address these issues. However, I expect these challenges to persist, not only when it comes to procuring new equipment, but also in obtaining parts to repair existing equipment. We are dedicated to staying ahead of these challenges, working diligently to ensure we maintain smooth operations and continue providing top-notch service to our customers.
Creating a Strong Company Culture
Labor shortages have been a persistent challenge across many industries, including waste and recycling. Over the past year, we have seen various creative and effective solutions being deployed to tackle this issue, and at AWC, we have embraced some of these approaches. Partnering with local HR and recruiting firms has enabled us to access a wider pool of potential candidates and streamline our hiring process. Reverting to traditional marketing methods, such as strategically placed billboards, public relations campaigns, and referral-based programs, has assisted us in attracting new talent and raising awareness about opportunities at our company.
Creating a strong company culture that instills pride in our employees and gets them excited to discuss their work at AWC has been invaluable for drawing new talent. A positive work environment not only encourages employee referrals, but also enhances employee retention. To further recruit top talent, we offer outrageous benefits like 100 percent paid healthcare for employees and their families, personal fitness training, chiropractic care, and free health and wellness clinics.
It is encouraging to see the industry’s ranking drop in the BLS safety report. We have been proactive in ensuring our employees’ well-being by implementing a wellness and fitness program this year. In 2023, we plan to complete the full rollout of the program across two locations with our full-time wellness and fitness coach. This latest initiative aims to improve mental cognition on the job for drivers, helpers, and everyone on the team, and it is also available to all dependents.
In addition to our safety meetings and daily safety checks, we are focusing on mental and physical wellness in 2023 to keep our employees sharp and alert. Our founder, Kenny, has always believed in the importance of a healthy work environment, and while we have always had a gym available, we have taken our commitment to the next level in 2023 with the addition of a Wellness Coach to serve our workforce and their families. By prioritizing employee well-being, we believe the industry can continue this positive trend and make waste and recycling jobs even safer.
As we move forward, I am optimistic that the labor market in Tulsa and the U.S. will stabilize. However, I do foresee a growing demand for more specialized roles, experience, and certifications in areas like advanced machinery operation, logistics, data analytics, and customer service with cloud expertise. At AWC, we are committed to staying ahead of these trends and ensuring our team possesses the skills required to excel in this evolving landscape.
Last year, the EPA’s announcements regarding recycling, funding, and PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) will have a significant impact on the waste and recycling industry. These new policies and funding opportunities will encourage businesses to adopt more sustainable practices and invest in innovative recycling technologies. Our founder, Kenny, has always had a deep concern for the environment, and we are committed to playing our part. As for the future of recycling, I believe we will see a growing focus on products such as non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, and food packaging, with increased efforts to divert these materials.
To communicate and educate the public about these issues, we will leverage social media, community outreach programs, and partnerships with local schools and businesses. We are dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of recycling and sustainable waste management. We will continue to share information, engage with our customers, and collaborate with our community to create a greener future for everyone.
As we continue to move into mid to late 2023, there are several key industry initiatives that we are keeping a close eye on:
1. The adoption of advanced sorting technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), is set to revolutionize waste sorting, making it more efficient and effective than ever before. We are excited to be part of this progress.
2. Public awareness and education campaigns will continue to play a crucial role in promoting sustainable behaviors, boosting recycling rates, and reducing waste. We are looking forward to partnering with national brands to further expand these vital education initiatives.
3. We are also thrilled to see manufacturers becoming more innovative with plastic packaging, using much less plastic, and helping to reduce environmental impact. This innovation is a promising step towards a greener future.
4. Lastly, as the waste and recycling industry evolves, there will be a growing demand for specialized roles requiring unique skills and knowledge. We are committed to staying at the forefront of these developments and ensuring our team is well-equipped to handle these emerging challenges.
2023 will continue to bring exciting advancements and improvements for the waste and recycling industry. We can expect to see increased integration of AI in both trucks and recycling facilities, which will streamline operations and boost efficiency. At American Waste Control, we will be placing a strong emphasis on enhancing fire safety measures for our trucks and recycling facility, as fire-related incidents have become an increasingly serious problem in the industry. By proactively addressing this issue, we aim to protect our employees, assets, and the environment.
Another development to look out for is the adoption of route optimization software by waste management companies. By implementing advanced software to optimize collection routes, companies can reduce fuel consumption, minimize wear and tear on vehicles, and improve overall operational efficiency. These innovations and technologies will not only enhance the industry’s performance, but also contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to waste management. | WA
Paul M. Ross is Vice President of American Waste Control. Paul’s management style is focused on helping people discover their capacity to do and become their best. He is responsible for helping to lead the day-to-day operations of the 225 truck fleet hauling operation, AWC’s recycling initiative with Mr. Murph, and promotion of the company’s renewable energy landfill. Paul can be reached at (918) 446-0023 or e-mail [email protected].