Hosting a successful event not only involves planning and execution leading up to and on the day of the event, but the results, including participants served, volume collected, impact of proper disposal on the environment, etc., should also be communicated with the community.
By Kenneth Miller

Welcome to the NAHMMA Corner! If you have been reading the column over the past three months (July to September), we hope that you have learned more about NAHMMA as an organization, our members, and the benefits of attending the annual conference. If you have not had a chance to read the last three articles, be sure to check out your monthly copies or look up the articles on Waste Advantage Magazine’s website at Over the next three months, the NAHMMA Corner will cover:
• Mobile collection events
• Unattended collection locations
• Moving from Mobile Collection Only Events to a Permanent Collection Facility (that may still hold mobile events)

Why do municipalities, solid waste districts, etc. hold mobile collection events for household hazardous materials? For some, the investment in a permanent collection facility simply does not align with available resources (staffing, financial, etc.) or the population base is too small to support the facility. For others, mobile events are used as a tool to provide additional collection opportunities for their service area with an eye towards reducing the barriers that may exist for residents to use a permanent facility. In both situations, proper planning is required to successfully execute a mobile collection event.



Determining Participation
There are multiple factors to consider when planning a mobile event, but the first factor to consider is the anticipated participation, both in terms of households to be served and the volume of materials those household will deliver to the site. This step is critical, because it should influence the event’s location selection, staffing needs, and other logistical (equipment, packing materials, scheduling tools, etc.).

For entities who have never hosted a mobile event before, the level of participation will be harder to gauge, but will be influenced by how well the event is marketed and how large the intended service area is. For entities who have hosted an event in the past, historical participation data can be used to help guide the decision, but other variables, such as how often similar collection events have been hosted, can impact the participation rate as well.
For my Agency, we artificially create a soft limit for total participation using a scheduling system and we create a soft limit for the total volume by including a limit on the number and size of containers we accept in all event marketing. We call these soft limits because we will still accept materials from residents who failed to make an appointment and material quantities over the soft limit. However, our agency has found the number of residents who show up without and is offset by the number of residents who made an appointment but failed to show up. The number of residents who exceed the soft volume limit is rather low.

Event Logistics and Marketing
Once anticipated participation and location have been determined, logistics and marketing come into play. Key logistical considerations include:
• Location Selection: As previously mentioned, establishing the mobile events anticipated participation should influence the location you select for the event. For the event, a queue line long enough to limit the impact of the event on other forms of transportation occurring in the area should be taken into consideration. The event will also need a processing and receiving area large enough to handle the anticipated material volume and space for the vehicle used to transport the collected material. The location selection process should also include the development of a spill prevention control and countermeasure plan for the site.

• Staffing: This may be handled entirely by a vendor, internal trained staff, or a combination of these two. Either way, appropriate staffing levels should be based on anticipated volume. Successful events
allow for staff to sort and process the materials, and additional staff to handle traffic and checking in participants.

• Date and Time: To drive participation, a successful mobile event should occur on a day and at a time that best aligns to the needs of the location served. If the event is for a community, often evening or weekend events deliver the best participation.

• Supplies: If a vendor is handling the event, once the vendor is given the anticipate participation, they should be able to anticipate the supply need. If the entity has never hosted a mobile event before—either because they have a permanent facility or because this is the first event of its kind—using a vendor to assist or run the entire event is likely the best option. If the event is being handled internally and similar events have been held previously, then historical data should help guide supply needs.

• Scheduling Participation: Online scheduling tools can help control overall participation and spread-out participation over the events scheduled time. These tools also allow for participants to schedule their own appointments, which can limit strain on the entity hosting the event. If online scheduling is not an option for the event, then the event may need a longer queue line to handle “rush” traffic.

• Marketing: There are many tools available to market events, such as social media, web advertising, radio, and print ads, etc. Choosing the tools which best suit the community will drive participation.

Post Event
Hosting a successful event not only involves planning and execution leading up to and on the day of the event, but the results, including participants served, volume collected, impact of proper disposal on the environment, etc., should also be communicated with the community. Sharing the impact of the event helps build momentum for the next event, or if the community does not have a permanent drop-off location, build momentum for a permanent site. | WA

Kenneth Miller began his duties as a scale operator with Dubuque Metropolitan Area Solid Waste Agency (DMASWA) in May 2011. Prior to that, he served as a Logistics Team Leader with the Target Corporation. In his role as the Solid Waste Agency Administrator, Ken is a member or multiple professional organizations, including SWANA, the Iowa Society of Solid Waste Operator (ISOSWO), the Iowa Recycling Association (IRA), the North American Hazardous Materials Management Association (NAHMMA) – National Board Member, NAHMMA Heartland Chapter President, the United States Composting Council, and the Iowa Composting Council – Board Member. He can be reached at (563) 581-2874, e-mail [email protected] or visit