The waste and recycling industry is evolving, and companies need to be aware of trends—such as the rise of millennials, the increased demand for convenience and sustainability, and the power of online engagement—if they want to remain competitive.
By Brianna Langley

If you are like most people, you probably think of the waste and recycling industry as one that is entrenched in tradition. After all, it is an industry where the customer experience has generally been little more than an afterthought for years. However, that is changing.

In this article, we will explore some of the key trends in the waste and recycling industry that you should pay attention to in the coming months—even years—and they all lead back to customer
experience.

The top 5 trends in the waste and recycling industry all have one thing in common—and it might not be what you think. Image courtesy of Waste Connections.


#1: Rise of the Millennials
As the largest generation in history, it is no surprise that millennials are having a sizable impact on customer behavior trends in almost every sector—and the waste and recycling industry is no
exception.

Born between 1981 and 1996, millennials are now aged between 23 and 38, and they are quickly becoming one of the most powerful consumer groups around the world.

The waste and recycling industry is starting to see the rise of the millennials and their impact on business. For one thing, this generation is 60 percent more likely to engage with brands that they feel are taking care of their employees and having positive societal impact.

As we all know, this shift also poses another unique challenge for our industry: how to recruit millennials. As the baby boomer generation begins to retire, the skills gap in the sector is widening.
However, this could be viewed as an opportunity rather than an obstacle.

One way to appeal to millennials is by offering interesting and challenging work. This generation seems to be especially intrigued by the prospect of finding innovative solutions to complex
problems. That opportunity, coupled with the potential for career growth and personal development, can make this industry highly attractive to this generation—if employers market it correctly.

This goes without saying, but it is also going to become even more essential to provide competitive compensation and benefits packages. To attract up and coming talent, waste and recycling companies need to offer salaries and benefits that are comparable to other industries. By investing in Millennials, we can move forward with confidence that they will invest in us.

#2: Increased Demand for Convenience and Sustainability
Customers of today are 40 percent more likely to spend theirmoney with companies who work hard to mitigate their negative effects on the environment. In our industry, that means transparency in environmental reports, clear sustainability goals, and innovative ways to “recycle”—like converting landfill gas into energy, for example.

As everyone becomes more and more time-strapped, consumers are increasingly looking for ways to make their lives more convenient. This trend is starting to show up in the waste and recycling industry in form of using mobile apps to set weekly pickup reminders, the rise of online storefronts, and more.

Customers want products that are easy to use and services that have minimal impact on the environment. This is especially true for the up-and-coming demographics, which means this trend is not
going anywhere anytime soon.

#3: The Power of Digital Engagement
In today’s world, digital engagement has become one of the most powerful tools that consumers use to make purchase decisions. Purchasing waste and recycling services is no exception. Waste management companies are now starting to focus on their online reputations, and many are going above and beyond by offering multiple avenues of digital communication for their customers.

Chat bots, mobile apps, dynamic website forms, and live agent messaging are all going to play a part in the world of waste and recycling. Consumers want to be able to interact with brands on their terms, and they are more likely to do so through digital channels.

#4: Emergence of New Technologies
New technologies are starting to emerge that are also changing the way we think about waste and recycling. This is also having a big impact on customer experience. One of the most notable examples is safety-focused technology, such as video telematics and alert systems that can easily be installed in fleets. They directly impact pedestrian safety and driver productivity.
That is just one example. From drones to artificial intelligence, these technologies are making it easier and more efficient for us to collect and recycle waste—and this also has a direct impact on our customers’ perception and expectation of us.

#5: Importance of Employee Retention
With the rise of new technologies, it is essential to have a workforce that is trained and able to use them. Additionally, customers are more likely to engage with brands that they feel have a good reputation, which means quality customer service.

Because of this, it is no secret that employee retention is also becoming increasingly important in the waste and recycling industry. Retaining employees who are knowledgeable about the industry can play a big role in improving customer experience.

Waste and recycling businesses are now starting to focus on employee retention as a way to directly improve customer satisfaction. The increase of training and development opportunities,
helpful technology-centered courses, and whole departments entirely focused on customer experience, are trends that are only going to increase in our industry as time marches on.

The Industry is Evolving
The bottom line is customer experience in the waste and recycling industry is evolving, and companies need to be aware of trends—such as the rise of millennials, the increased demand for convenience and sustainability, and the power of online engagement— if they want to remain competitive. New technologies are also changing the way we think about waste and recycling, and employee retention is becoming increasingly important. By staying up-to-date on these trends, brands in our industry can ensure that they are providing the best possible experience—both for employees and for customers. | WA

Brianna Langley has been the CX Specialist for Waste Connections since April 2021. Prior to that, she worked in both marketing and PR, respectively. In her current role, she analyzes the various types of interactions customers have with the company and works to make those interactions both delightful for customers and streamlined for employees. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]m or via LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/brianna-langley.

References
www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/deloitte-2020-millennial-survey.pdf
https://influencermarketinghub.com/millennial-spending-habits/#toc-9
https://itunes.apple.com/app/id920575760
www.wasteconnections.com/start-service/

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