Best Practices for Efficient Waste and Recycling Collection and Transport

As technologies continue to be developed, as local governments continue to revise their waste collection and disposal regulations, and as public opinion changes and evolves, different approaches in waste and recycling collection and transport will surface and develop over time. The key is in identifying and implementing the ones that provide the highest levels of efficiency for your company.

Inbal Axelrod

Whether it’s residential or industrial waste and recycling, the collection and transport of post-consumer waste is a cost-intensive process. Implementing best practices for efficiency can help waste management companies leverage their costs much more effectively than otherwise, provide better service to customers, and pave the way to better business growth. To that end, here are several key strategies for efficient waste and recycling collection and transport.

Employ Safe Collection Practices

Transport vehicle drivers are the backbone of any waste management company. Drivers and waste collectors of traditional garbage trucks or even those equipped with automated side-loaders face occupational hazards that can lead to injuries. This, eventually, could sideline drivers and waste collectors for weeks or even months, causing the kind of chaos that only personnel shortages can create. Therefore, it is in the best interest of every waste collection company to implement safe collection practices to minimize harm to their workers.

There are a number of methods that can be employed to make waste collection safer. A few effective strategies are: ensuring that commercial and residential customers are educated as to proper placement of containers, making sure that workers have suitable protective clothing provided for them and that waste collection vehicles are kitted out with an eye towards ergonomics. Redesigning waste bins to be safer and easier to handle is also an important facet of making waste collection safer and less prone to cause costly injuries.

Aim for an Organized Regional System

Waste collection and transport across a large region needs to have an organizational system set in place to ensure trash is not just collected adequately but that it is properly transported to its final destination as well. Waste disposal is subject to local regulations that will determine the fate of secondary materials markets for recycling and where disposal sites or landfills are located, and this all has an impact on time spent and costs incurred in both collection and hauling.

In many cases, encouraging or promoting the use of transfer stations can provide heightened productivity. Small-scale waste collection in this manner is often ideal for both urban areas that are located far from disposal sites or for a collection of smaller, rural communities. A centralized location provides shorter secondary haulage.

Ensure Community Feedback and Collaboration

Competition among independent waste and recycling collection companies can be high. In many geographical locations, residential consumers have their choice of several companies, which makes it important to not only just acquire new business, but also strive to keep the customers you have for extended periods of time in order to provide steady revenue; high levels of customer loyalty are a priority for any waste collection company. Encourage bilateral communication between you and your service community. Opening your company’s planning and decision-making process when it comes to waste collection and disposal techniques allows you to receive feedback from the community and ensure you are meeting its needs and that you are focusing your customer service efforts in effective ways. Ensuring good communication also provides opportunities to educate the public on proper storage and disposal of waste and how to aid your waste collectors and drivers.

Take Advantage of New Technologies

Waste collection techniques have adapted to new and emergent technologies. From its origins in wheelbarrows and horse-drawn carts carting offal to the local dump, waste collection has developed into sorting recyclables for the secondary market and automated side-loading vehicles bringing waste to a landfill that harnesses waste gas to produce electricity. All of these developments have served to make waste collection easier, faster, and more efficient—and new technologies will continue to do so.

A new push for smart-device outfitted waste bins and collection vehicles is now currently being developed in a number of regions around the world. Smart bins that automatically sort and compress recyclable materials are being trialed in Europe, while smart garbage system pilot programs in South Korea seek to streamline food waste collection. While these new systems do have disadvantages—most notably requiring these smart bins to have independent power sources—there are also more cost-effective methods such as collection vehicles fitted with an array of volume and weight sensors to make waste pickup and haulage more efficient.

The Tip of the Iceberg

The strategies discussed above, while certainly all steps in the right direction, shouldn’t be thought of as the only exclusive methods for increasing efficiency. Additionally, some of these methods may be more appropriate to your own waste management company than others, depending on your particular circumstances.

Overall, however, these strategies are truly just the tip of the iceberg. As technologies continue to be developed, as local governments continue to revise their waste collection and disposal regulations, and as public opinion changes and evolves, different approaches in waste and recycling collection and transport will surface and develop over time. The key is in identifying and implementing the ones that provide the highest levels of efficiency for your company.

Inbal Axelrod is the co-founder and CMO at MyRouteOnline, a multiple stop route planner that helps make our world greener. Individuals visiting multiple locations can plan their routes online, optimize their route, and spend less fuel and time on the road. This means fewer greenhouse gas emissions, a reduced carbon footprint, and better air quality. Inbal can be reached at inbal@myrouteonline.com and will be attending the WasteExpo at the end of April.