The waste and recycling industry landscape is constantly evolving through regulations, new technologies, and efforts helping to further sustainable practices. By using waste technology such as RFID and cameras, coupled with AI technology, haulers are set up for success to increase efficiencies and revenue as well identify and decrease the occurrence of contaminants.
By Ben Pettine and Ryan Long
Sustainability is top of mind for many businesses, but as an industry that is directly involved in these efforts, waste and recycling haulers have a front-row view into some of the key challenges. For example, Hamilton, IN recently reported 1.65 million pounds of e-waste and hazardous materials that residents had improperly recycled—a frequent mistake known as contamination. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average recycling contamination rate is 25 percent, or 1 in 4 items, when at the same time the EPA estimates that about 75 percent of the waste produced in the U.S. is recyclable; yet the actual recycling rate is only 34 percent.
When these contaminations happen and haulers are unable to identify cart contaminations at the source, recycling margins inevitably decline, and the percentage of waste produced increases. Today there are sophisticated fleet management technology solutions, designed for waste that can provide actionable data insights, leading to increased compliance and improvement in recycling margins.
Optimizing Fleet Management for Haulers
The fact remains that recycling is not only a sustainable initiative but can also serve to stimulate the economy and benefit the community. While 94 percent of Americans reportedly support recycling, many products that are put in recycling bins end up in landfills due to improper practices on the public’s part. Unfortunately, these contaminants can have a financial domino effect, starting with the hauler and ending with residents. While public education of proper waste and recycling practices remains a hurdle in the industry, haulers can help combat this challenge while also protecting themselves with the adoption of fleet management systems, such as RFID for service verification.
With using RFID on bins for service verification, haulers can scan each bin in real-time as proof of service. This important and often underused feature allows the haulers to know where the truck is, where the truck has been, and, most importantly, whether service was performed—eliminating the potential headache of an angry resident. Furthermore, with the use of RFID combined with cameras, haulers can identify cart contamination at the source and use actionable data to then educate customers and reduce violations. With these reporting features, recycling rates inevitably increase, improving margins and helping to meet recycling goals.
When haulers go beyond service verification and adopt additional solutions, such as in-cab information dashboards or cameras, they can also identify which bins were contaminated while at the same time increasing efficiency and boosting revenue. Easily accessible and reliable in-cab applications such as exception recording can allow the driver to record any blocked or contaminated carts, leading to easier resolution of customer complaints and less contamination in general. Furthermore, reliable data and reporting features, such as paperless route sheets or navigation, also contribute greatly to boosted efficiency and minimize any potential mistakes along the way.
Using Your Technology Provider as Your Advocate
Adopting innovative and efficient technology is an excellent step in the right direction, but tech cannot solve everything. This is where having a reliable and experienced waste technology partner comes into play. Waste and recycling is a complicated industry, but when using a provider who is able to act as your advocate and liaison, communications will be streamlined, cutting down on time that haulers could spend increasing efficiencies or improving ROI.
Unfortunately, it is a well-known fact that disputes between haulers and cities are commonplace in the waste industry, and if these disputes become heated, they can start to put a strain on business relationships. Using a reliable partner that can provide real-time data and a single source of truth can help alleviate these pain points and facilitate a harmonious “marriage” between hauler and city.
Preparing for What is Next in Waste and Recycling
The waste and recycling industry landscape is constantly evolving through regulations, new technologies and efforts helping to further sustainable practices. By using waste technology such as RFID and cameras, coupled with AI technology, haulers are set up for success to increase efficiencies and revenue as well identify and decrease the occurrence of contaminants. Furthermore, when these technologies are properly optimized alongside an expert partner in the industry, haulers and cities can avoid the potential headaches of customer disputes while optimizing business efficiencies, increasing the bottom line, and ultimately contributing to the pursuit of sustainability.| WA
Ben Pettine is a passionate consultative sales professional and team leader with more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of fleet management technology platforms. Motivated by helping clients obtain the desired results with a personal emphasis on high level business ethics, Ben currently serves as Associate Director of Outside Sales at EROAD. He is experienced and skilled in driving efficiencies and performance within operations, safety, compliance, customer service, and finance. Understanding the importance of both building and maintaining strong internal and external relationships, Ben is also dedicated to ensuring productive working relationships with municipalities, waste consultants and waste haulers.
Ryan Long is Waste Product Manager at EROAD. He has worked in waste and recycling technology for 15 years. With a core competency in automated service verification, he has helped hundreds of haulers and municipalities identify and solve problems in their collection operations. For more information, e-mail [email protected].