The debris removal industry is large enough for everyone to have their niche but through clear communication, customers can find the solution providers that will make their lives easier.

Paul DiSpazio

Debris removal is a sore topic for many people. There are many questions that enter into customers’ heads when they are contemplating renovating a kitchen or bathroom, cleaning out a basement or garage, or preparing to move/relocate:

  • Do I use a person with a trailer or similar company?
  • Should I just rent a dumpster?
  • How do I get a dumpster? What size do I need to rent?
  • How do I find a good one that is honest?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Is it going to damage my driveway or lawn?
  • How long will I need the dumpster?
  • How long will it take to be delivered and then picked up?
  • Do I need to get town or HOA (Home Owner Association) permission?
  • Where do I put it on my property?
  • Is there any other option than a metal dumpster?

Although these are just the tip of the iceberg, they are the most common questions asked. There are no straightforward or easy answers as it seems like every contractor and landscaper who is looking to make a quick buck is calling themselves a debris removal expert with the best pricing and a trailer. However, pricing is not the only thing that customers should consider.

Standard Debris Removal Options

As a fellow homeowner, I pride myself on my home. I want to make sure my house always looks inviting and the most attractive it can and I am always doing some DIY project on weekends or hiring contractors for more involved projects. While a huge benefit to metal dumpster is that they are available in a variety of sizes, oftentimes, towns and HOAs have regulations or requirements around the use of metal dumpsters. They often can take up parking spaces, damage asphalt driveways, crack pavers, destroy lawns and are, generally, an eyesore. Some towns require the purchase of permits or you risk getting fined by the town. In addition, with a metal dumpster, it is impossible to know how much the stuff you toss inside actually weighs. Whether you are disposing of old carpeting and sheet rock or old toys. you must contend with the weight that snow, melted snow, ice or rain adds to it.

The next debris removal option is hiring people to remove it. The services that show up with their own truck and charge you by the space you take up or the single man who arrives with his own trailer and offers ‘dump runs’ offer an invaluable service. However, when you compare the space volume with the actual price they charge for the service (labor included), it usually ends up costing more than that of—damage to your driveway and lawn included—a metal dumpster. Not to mention the potential injuries that could impact your homeowner’s insurance.

Another option involves the customer handling it himself. I have personally done this thinking I am being frugal and saving money. I would fill up the back seat of my car and trunk and bring it to the town transfer station on Saturday mornings and sort it there myself or put it into black lawn bags and place them inside my home garbage containers for my weekly town pickup. The first option, although an opportunity to interact with my town neighbors on a Saturday morning, I have found that my time was always better spent riding bikes with my kids, or enjoying breakfast with my spouse. The second option, while a viable option for some, can result in damage to the interior of your vehicle from the debris, punctured tires from the debris of others getting dropped off and well, frankly, that leads to a lot of other expenditures including either tire replacement (more time wasted) or towing and a new tire.

Dumpster Bags

An alternative option to consider as a viable solution is a dumpster bag. There are basically two different types of bags—a single use bag that gets disposed of when you have it picked up and a reusable bag, which is guaranteed for life and you do not have to purchase another one again. The first option results in more debris in landfills, whereas a reusable bag can be rolled up and stored. The single use bag requires you to go to a hardware store to purchase a new one, often resulting in the delay of the start of your project. The reusable bag is ready whenever you are. The single use bags are limited as to where you can place them and often do not stay open, while the reusable bag comes with poles so the bag is kept upright and open, making it easy to fill. The reusable bag can also be picked up from behind fences, on top of stone walls, from inside garages, on second story scaffolding, patios and decks, and does not cause damage to driveways, lawns or pavers. A single use bag holds up to 3 cubic yards and has a set price often not accepting yard debris (project limitation issue), while the reusable bag offers three fill heights holding up to 8 cubic yards for the customer. Neither bag charges by the weight as does metal dumpsters. Both essentially use volume as does the people removal options, but without the labor cost associated with it. Dumpster bags are not picked up, brought to a transfer station to weigh and then charge you. The smaller bag has a single set price based on zip code. The bigger bag has multiple fill heights with customers only paying for the height filled, to offering great flexibility. Pricing for dumpster bags is significantly less expensive than metal dumpsters. Dumpster bags offer greater flexibility on planning, project implementation, and time and cost.

Finding the Right Solution

While each debris removal option is a viable one, it is important for consumers of these services to understand the benefits and limitations of each. In the debris removal industry, we must all work harder at educating our customers while providing clear explanations to the costs and fees associated with each. Remember, the generator of the debris owns it from the time they have it to the time it is in the landfill. So, what happens if the trailer spills or if the debris is not covered and it blows out, damaging a vehicle or littering the road? Guess what? You are the one who is responsible. The debris removal industry is large enough for everyone to have their niche, but through clear communication, customers can find the solution providers that will make their lives easier.

Paul DiSpazio is CEO and Founder of BullBag Corporation (Pompano Beach, FL). He has more than 35 years in waste collection, building and facilities management. Paul was the founder of TrashBEEGone and several former waste and refuse services businesses, building relationships with 1,300+ haulers and 2,600+ transfer stations across the U.S. He can be reached at (203) 996-7516 or e-mail [email protected].