Using an automatic lock allows the companies that handle their waste management to run more efficiently while decreasing their negative impact on the environment. These innovations have risen to the occasion and are an essential solution to push the industry into the next steps of sustainable waste management.
By Felicia Worthington
The idea of sustainability was not widely explored before the 1980s, but since then has evolved into a movement that has taken over the media, politics and academic circles. As a society, we have become more aware of the effects of our waste disposal and energy usage, as well as more mindful of the needs of future generations. We have sought countless ways to forge a path to preserve the environment. Entire markets and industries have contributed to this bigger picture, and from the jet stream of innovations, came the automatic dumpster lock.
The Move to Sustainable Waste Management
Prior to the use of automatic dumpster locks, waste was simply deposited into landfills or incinerated without care or caution. While landfills have historically been used for waste since the 1930s, they have been damaging to the environment. Landfills release carbon dioxide, methane (which is up to 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide), and leachate, contaminating both air and water sources. Tremendous amounts of land worldwide are covered in landfills, both functioning and abandoned—the latter of which still emit harmful gases and liquids while they lay dormant. Waste incineration actively contributes to climate change as well, as it emits gases that may cause acid rain and increase air pollution, while the ash by-product of incineration likely carries heavy metals and other toxins. Poor waste management systems contribute greatly to sustainability issues, such as climate change and air pollution, but the movement to sustainable waste management serves to resolve a number of these challenges. Presently, the waste management industry encourages ideas for the individual such as “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle,” as well as more progressive, large-scale ideas such as the “Pay-As-You-Throw” program. This spectrum of ideas allows industry professionals, businesses, as well as individuals, to take advantage of the opportunities presented to benefit the economy, society and the environment.
Increased Efficiency: Automatic Locks
As sustainability practices evolve in the waste management industry, the dichotomy between security and automation has become very clear: While locking dumpsters promotes sustainability, there are increased costs and inefficiency as drivers must exit the vehicle while it remains idle in order to unlock and relock the dumpsters. Automatic locks eliminate the need for drivers to exit their vehicle entirely—increasing both time and cost-efficiency while decreasing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, the automatic dumpster lock was, and has since been established as the solution to the competing demands of an ever-evolving industry.
Prior to the introduction of automatic locks, padlocks were widely used for security purposes. However, the costs associated with replacing locks and keys, as well as the inconvenience and inevitable environmental harm that comes from drivers having to repeatedly exit their vehicles, fumble with keys, unlock the container and then relock the container, are astronomical.
Automatic locks remain locked when the containers are in the upright position and can only be unlocked one of two ways—with a key to the container to deposit waste, or by lifting and sufficiently tilting the container with the intent to dump. Once the container is tilted to a sufficient angle, the lock automatically releases, allowing the container lid to open freely, where the waste passes from the container into the truck.
Securing the Stream
While the purpose of an automatic dumpster lock is (albeit ironic) to unlock, it succeeds in efficiently securing the waste stream in a multitude of ways. Automatic locks do more than simply eliminate the need for drivers to exit the vehicle and carry keys for larger front and rear-load containers. For smaller carts, automatic locks prevent them from opening if and when they are knocked over. Newly-developed technology also ensures that carts remain locked if tipped-over in any direction and will only open when lifted in a way that simulates that of a collection truck.
In the case of organics and recycling containers, automatic locks decrease the likelihood of contamination issues that could prevent recyclable materials from being accepted (e.g., cardboard or plastic contaminated with food waste). Given the growth of the sustainability movement, it becomes more important to lock organics and recycling containers—dissuading animals and rodents from accessing food waste and preventing spillage of food waste and recyclables onto the street. Automatic locks provide a cost-efficient means of keeping these recyclables protected.
Automatic dumpster locks provide a number of additional benefits to businesses and individuals as well. The security provided by automatic locks decreases the possibility of dumpster divers, identity theft and compromise of other sensitive information, theft of service through illegal dumping, while increasing children’s safety and reducing landfill tipping fees. It also allows businesses and individuals to contribute to the overarching sustainability initiatives by keeping dumpster lids closed. This contains the refuse and prevents rainwater from entering the dumpster and creating excess liquid dumpster runoff. The safety of each driver is increased, as well, as staying in the truck affords them opportunities to avoid back strain from entering and exiting their vehicle, injuries from falls in inclement weather, and—perhaps the most important in a post-2020 world—protection from contagious diseases such as COVID-19 by keeping the driver away from potentially contaminated trash and containers.
Becoming a zero-waste society is certainly a distant long-term objective of the sustainability movement, requiring radical changes in product creation, use, and disposal that presently seem like lofty goals. In order to eliminate waste’s effect on the environment, the waste management industry, itself must make changes in the systems that have contributed to the its current state. While locks alone were certainly integral in initiating the waste management industry’s steps towards sustainability, automatic dumpster locks have provided a number of opportunities for its contributions to sustainability initiatives to be more impactful.
Automatic dumpster locks enable the separation of waste with reduced risk of contamination, which in turn decreases the amount of refuse that gets disposed of in landfills. They also increase the reach of the contributions of businesses and individuals in a cost-efficient way, as using an automatic lock allows the companies that handle their waste management to run more efficiently while decreasing their negative impact on the environment. These innovations have risen to the occasion and are an essential solution to push the industry into the next steps of sustainable waste management—and while unlocking is their function, automatic dumpster locks make securing the waste stream a realistic goal for everyone. | WA
Felicia Worthington is Marketing Director for Serio-US Lock (Baltimore, MD). Serio-US Lock is the leading designer and manufacturer of automatic locks for waste contianers. Since the introduction of their first gravity lock in 1988, innovative products have been helping clients reduce cost, protect their employees and build better relationships with customers. Expanding into customized solutions for recycling, organics and animal-resistant carts, Serio-US continues to provide the highest quality locking options in the industry. For more information, visit (800) 245-6251 or e-mail [email protected].