Your journey from a truck driver to a waste company owner is a testament to your resilience and adaptability. Landfill closures are an opportunity to reinvent your business model, to stand out in a competitive market, and to contribute positively to the environment and your local economy.
By  Samuele Barrili

As a waste company owner, you have seen the industry evolve over decades. Today, with your hands-on experience, you are seeing the closure of landfills as challenging for the environment and the life of your waste business.

Since 1990, the number of municipal solid waste landfills have decreased year after year, passing from a number of 6,326 to 1,269. This was only the beginning.

The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) has presented a startling reality: the U.S. has about 62 years of landfill capacity remaining.

However, this capacity varies greatly across the country. While seven states are on the brink of running out of landfill space in the next five years, 22 states have ample space for decades. This uneven distribution poses both a challenge and an opportunity for your small waste business.

Embracing the Circularity
The concept of a circular economy offers a transformative approach. It is not just about sustainability, it is also about economic viability and brand rejuvenation. Do you remember when around the country, there were plenty of small facilities involved in the production and reparation of items and goods? Year after year, they closed. By 2010, almost all of them, if they could not change business, went out of business. Many causes motivated their end, but one above all was that thanks to our smartphones, we can buy any new thing instead of repairing the one we broke.

This approach accelerated the closure rate of these activities and the end of many local economies around our country and the world. It exposed our economy to many supply chain problems during the previous years (do you remember the ships waiting for the entrance in the West Coast harbors?), and going ahead, it is clear that the risk for our economy is to become dependent on another—one that produces goods for us.

A waste company can contribute to the change that our country needs to help its economy—this originates from the closure of landfills. The EREF report says that in the coming years, landfills will finish their capacities, but it means another important thing: the price of landfilling will increase. The price growth means another thing—especially for small waste companies and junk removals—it will be challenging to compete with the big companies in the field, who usually have their own landfills.

However, there is an opportunity for you to get ahead in the game. You have the power to help the country’s economy by promoting “Made in the U.S.A.” Landfill closure or a price increase for landfilling should move your small waste company in the direction of embracing the sales of secondary raw materials originating from the waste it collects.

Strategic Adaptation for Your Business
Suppose that is probably what you are already doing. In that case, staying focused on it will give you the opportunity to shift your business model from waste collection to one of a raw material supplier.
This shift will make a difference in competitiveness for your company, and it will also drive you to become an innovative player in the field. Even if change can scare you, that is the only direction your company can take to stand out. To adapt your business, consider these strategies.

Analyze the Market of the Facilities
Analyze the market of facilities in the area where you operate to understand what types of raw materials they are buying, the quantities, and if they are evaluating the opportunity to use secondary raw materials for their production.

Analyze the Waste
Analyze the types of waste you are collecting and their quantities, creating a yearly report. You probably have enough information to understand what sources of secondary raw materials you have and what types you can supply to the recycling facilities in your area.

Create Agreements with Recyclers
Identify the recycling companies in the area and create long-term agreements with them based on the materials you can provide them. Create an agreement based on quantities and try to understand if you can create a long-term, partnership with them after the first 12 to 18 months of collaboration.

Educate Your Clients
Use your experience to educate your clients about the correct waste disposal, offering them training courses and sharing with them some benefits originating from proper waste management. This not only builds trust, but also creates a group of supporters of your new approach.

Marketing Matters
You might not be familiar with marketing, but consider that it is the way to get the word out to people about your services. Take the opportunity to share case history or to create case studies that you share during events, clients’ meetings, and interviews. People always want to know more. This type of change in business model will change your client types, so your marketing should be focused on explaining the advantages to solving their waste problems, such as using this solution that will boost the local economy (like the opportunity for people to continue to spend money in local shops). In the meantime, share ideas, create posts, and share educational content to make the change an opportunity for the entire community.

Reinvent Your Business Model
Your journey from a truck driver to a waste company owner is a testament to your resilience and adaptability. Landfill closures are an opportunity to reinvent your business model, to stand out in a competitive market, and to contribute positively to the environment and your local economy. Embrace the change, leverage your experience, and lead your business into a sustainable, profitable future. | WA

Samuele Barrili is a Waste Management Expert and Business Strategist. Born in Cagliari, Italy, Samuele began his career as a salesman in 2010. After earning a degree in Toxicological Chemistry at the University of Cagliari (Sardinia) and many masters in Waste Treatment, he combined his knowledge to define his mission: save the planet helping 6,000 waste management companies to continue to thrive. After nine years in the field, working as a sales and marketing manager for international firms in waste management, Samuele created M4W Marketing For Waste, the first growth agency focused on helping waste management companies. Marketing4Waste is the first service dedicated to waste management companies. He can be reached at [email protected] or visit