Sorting Truth from Trash: Common Waste Myths Debunked

– February 17, 2022 –

A “lesser expense” may be taking away from managing your key business initiatives.

There are many myths and misconceptions regarding trash and recycling, from a sustainable operation costing more to multiple waste locations equating to numerous vendors and contracts. To gain a better understanding of the waste industry and how it can best serve your company’s unique needs, let’s examine common waste myths and the truths that lie behind them.

1. Waste is Waste (For the Landfill)

Don’t let Oscar the Grouch snack on what could have value elsewhere. Oscar The Grouch Snacks

Myth: When business operators are figuring out how to handle their waste and recycling management needs, landfills are usually the first in line. On paper, it seems like the best, no-hassle route to have your waste processed and stored. However, this popular thought is a myth, and current waste programs that center on this approach are flawed.

Truth: It’s true that a landfill helps to reduce the amount of waste that enters the environment, prevents disease transmission, and works to keep communities clean. Unfortunately, they still have significant environmental and social impacts, such as emitting hazardous toxins, leachate and greenhouse gases that pollute surrounding areas – and many times offer limited, if any, recycling processes.

Our Tip: Find alternatives to preserve resources, benefit your bottom line and reach economic neutrality. Tracking your waste inputs and outputs helps productivity. Some waste companies offer nice upfront savings when starting a recycling program, but a lasting program offers continuous improvements and the reporting to back it up.

Bonus Tip: Recycling is a great start, but extra waste is generated when people buy things they don’t need. Instead of increasing what needs to be removed from your site, tightly manage your upfront purchasing to avoid acquiring anything that your company might not use and buy materials that have longer lifespans.

Example: According to a recent Department of Environmental Protection report, Pennsylvania businesses and industries generate at least 20 million tons of solid residual waste each year (with an even larger amount in liquid or semi-liquid form). This is roughly twice the combined total of the state’s municipal and hazardous wastes (around 12 million tons per year). Imagine what that number could be in your state.

2. Multiple Waste Locations Mean Multiple Contracts/Vendors

One Ring to Rule All Invoices

One invoice to rule them all.

Myth: While your company may require multiple vendors, it doesn’t need to be a spinning-plates effort. It’s a common myth that having multiple locations for your waste and recycling means the need for different vendors, contracts, and invoices.

Truth: Some managed waste services providers have built-in networks that eliminate the juggling and consolidate your billing to a single invoice. They optimize your company’s waste streams and connect you to the appropriate recycling partnerships, so you don’t have to sweat about the haulers, overflowing receptacles or city/state regulations.

Our Tip: Selecting a proactive provider will help you achieve your business and sustainability or ESG goals. They can also help you plan for peak seasons and any temporary changes, so your service and the accompanying cost is “right-sized” for your needs. With this high level of consideration in the selection process, your locations will experience clean, consistent pickups without service interruptions.

Example: In a series of Quest Resource Management Group case studies, a national fleet operator (with 71,000 service vehicles), a manufacturing company (with over 50 plants in the U.S.) and a grocery store chain (with 2,000+ stores) needed to reduce their waste footprint while managing their operating costs. Quest implemented an individual, comprehensive landfill diversion program and managed the recycling of materials that secured annual savings by 10-20% and nearly doubled their landfill diversion rate.

3. A Sustainable Operation Costs More

The price is wrong, Bob! The Price Is Wrong

Myth: One of the greatest myths is that a sustainable waste operation is more expensive.

Truth: Businesses often assume trash and recycling prices are always increasing. However, waste removal becomes pricey when you stop evaluating your waste stream for new opportunities at the front- and back-ends.

Our Tip: With the right partner, you can identify processing and disposition cost increases and determine whether a surcharge is reasonable or excessive. This path will allow you to give more attention to other priorities, such as quality control campaigns, customer promotions or training employees.

Bonus Tip: As your business activity fluctuates throughout the year, continuous reporting can check your locations’ waste output to analyze bin size and pickup rates. With this information, you could identify if you’re paying for more frequent pickups than needed or spending more on a bin that’s larger than you need.

Example: According to Waste Business Journal’s most recent annual reports, landfill rates have been steadily climbing at an average of 3.5% per year. As a result, recycling processes have become a more economical option for various waste streams.

Waste myths will continue to circulate. But if you’re willing to break the cycle and establish a proper system that helps to process waste efficiently, partner up! Don’t feel stuck with your incumbent waste protocols.

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