Your organization’s recycling and waste removal expenses could be increasing in the near future, if they haven’t already.

Recycling programs throughout North America are in a bind because of industry disruption. One of the biggest catalysts in this is China’s “Green Fence” decision to tighten recycling import policies which would restrict many recyclable materials that can be imported to China from North America for re-processing purposes. As a result, many recyclables are ending up in the waste landfills and waste haulers are struggling to find new markets where recyclable materials can be processed.

Over the long-term, this issue will likely play a role in finding ways to streamline waste and reduce use of disposable products, but in the short-term businesses are facing cost escalations well in excess of the average rate of inflation and residential services which directly impacts local voters.

While your organization’s waste removal costs will be higher because of globalized factors, there are ways to mitigate this by reviewing an organization’s waste removal protocol and contracts to find viable offsets.

Although you can’t control how global import policies may impact your company, there are cost savings steps you can take to at least streamline the waste removal costs your organization can control. While China’s decision is a setback, there are opportunities for top leadership to review processes and lead cost reduction efforts in waste removal within their companies.

Conduct a Walk Around

Managers should hold regular walk arounds throughout facilities to gain insight into an organization’s waste removal process. Oftentimes, waste management and removal can become a low priority to upper management. Taking the management by wandering around (MBWA) approach lets staff know that waste removal protocols should be taken seriously and will help staff pinpoint areas where efficiencies can be incorporated.

During a walk around, management should keep in mind:

  • Are trash and recycling bins within reach, clean, and have fresh signage?
  • Are lunch rooms, receiving docks, janitor closets, and receiving docks clean and organized?
  • Are dock areas, truck wells, and driveways clean and odor free?

Review Your Contracts

Leadership’s attention will focus attention on an area of rising costs that is often neglected. Waste companies are very aware of a general attitude that, “waste costs are what they are” and there’s little that can be done about them. In addition to the current economic pressure, unchecked price creep over time is almost a certainty.

By reviewing your waste removal services contract, managers can determine whether there have been price escalations, add-on fees, changes in terms to your current agreement, and when it is up for renewal. Five-year agreements with auto-renewals are common.

Consider bringing in a third party to review current practices for potential efficiency savings, review current agreements that are typically one-sided and initiate a formal request for proposal to introduce fair competitive pricing.

A review of your waste cost inflation, current agreements, recycling efficiency and justification of lease vs. own for new equipment needs will often lead to dramatic savings. Introducing market price competition through the RFP process may reduce trash hauls by re-sizing current equipment and reducing pickup frequencies. A thorough review of your waste expenses can achieve hidden savings where you may have least expected it.