News and trends about dumpster rentals, portable storage containers, and construction waste recycling around Appleton, Green Bay, and Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Waste disposal is something that most people take for granted, yet know very little about. Each week we mindlessly fill our trash cans with household items we consider garbage, and then set the cans at the end of the driveway on our assigned day for a municipal employee (or a contracted private company) to whisk it away to a landfill…
“The Waste Industry” is basically a transportation service, and the commodity transported is garbage and recyclable materials. Internally, most waste management business run like any other business, with accounts payable, accounts receivable, cash flow, etc. This business is very capital-intensive, because a single basic truck can cost over a quarter million dollars. To be successful, a waste business’ equipment needs to be reliable; it requires a good maintenance plan, properly trained operators, and a solid safety program in place.
But what exactly do we mean when we talk about a waste business’ “equipment”?
Automated Side Loaders
An automated side loader is the type of truck that typically collects our residential waste and recyclables. Nicknamed “one arm bandits,” operators manipulate these trucks with a joystick from inside the cab. This joystick directs an arm to pick-up residential carts with a claw, and then lifts and tips the wheeled bins into the side of the truck. These automated side loaders have replaced the outdated rear loader, which generally required two to three people just to operate.
Front loaders are used by the largest segment of the industry, primarily because most businesses use waste containers that are compatible with these types of trucks. Front loaders can accommodate a 2-, 4-, 6-, or 8-yard container for waste and recyclables like cardboard and paper. Just like their name implies, front loaders pick up the dumpsters with arms on the front of the truck and dump the contents into the hopper located just behind the cab.
Roll-offs are primarily used for dumpster rentals for construction and demolition (C&D) work. Roll-off trucks transport a 20- or 30-cubic yard container to the project site, and then uses hydraulics to lift its bed so the roll-off container can do just that – roll off – with the assistance of a cable. When the dumpster is full, the truck uses a cable and winch system to pull it back onto the truck.
A roll-off that is safer and more efficient than the cable style is called a hook-lift, which is the type that we use at City Disposal. With a hook-lift system, the truck extends a 90-degree hooked arm and lifts the dumpster onto and off of the truck. Most hook-lift systems are on smaller, single-axle trucks and are usually used with containers that are 20-yards or less. These smaller trucks are much easier to navigate in residential areas. Better maneuverability means less chance for property damage when you rent a dumpster.
Some waste businesses try to operate all of these types of waste disposal trucks, while others like to specialize in a certain area. Regardless of the business strategy, the bottom line is waste businesses need good employees to operate their equipment. At City Disposal, our employees are the ambassadors, the backbone of our company, and our direct link to our customers. We encourage our drivers to communicate with our customers, identify any potential problems, and present opportunities for improvement. Investing time and money on the right employee pays dividends; companies are only as good as their worst employee.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States generated about 262.4 million tons of household waste in 2015, which equates to about 4.48 pounds per person per day.
Thankfully, we recycled or composted 91.2 million tons of this waste. Even better, our nation’s recycling efforts have increased significantly – up from only about 15 million tons in 1980 – but like anything, there’s always room for improvement. To help continue this recycling trend, the waste management industry has come up with a number of recycling and waste disposal programs to help keep our landfills manageable.
For example, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a strategy that was intended to incorporate environmental costs for a product’s entire lifecycle into its market price, forcing manufacturers to think beyond the product and it’s packaging, all the way through its “end of life”. The idea is that, because the manufacturers have control over the packaging and product design, they also have the greatest ability to reduce the amount of solid waste that gets disposed of or recycled. Some companies have focused their efforts on using fewer materials to create the product itself, some strive to use 100% recyclable packaging, and some are even working towards designing products that will ultimately last longer. Many companies are choosing to take it another step further and implement a “take-back” program, which means the manufacturers accept responsibility for taking back their products from consumers at the end of the product’s life. All of these examples of EPR strategies help to incentivize manufacturers to design their products and packaging in a more environmentally-friendly way.
Other than being conscious about our household garbage, we, along with the customers we serve, have a HUGE opportunity to contribute to the protection of our environment by being conscious of the construction and demolition (C&D) materials we put in waste containers that eventually end up in our landfills. C&D materials are the debris generated during demolition, renovation, or new construction projects. The most common C&D materials include bulky things like wood, glass, metal, concrete, and reclaimed building parts. While it’s easy to just chuck everything into one construction dumpster and ship it off to the landfill when it’s full, think about the impact our industry can have on the environment… Less waste can lead to fewer disposal facilities in general, helping to reduce methane gas emissions (which have been proven to contribute to global climate change.) To help protect our natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, here are just a few simple ways to reduce, reuse, or recycle C&D materials:
If you’re planning a remodeling or new construction project, consider checking with local salvagers or non-profit retail outlets before purchasing all new products... Many of these organizations, like Restore, offer good quality reclaimed building materials for a much cheaper cost than buying it brand new. (Plus there’s nothing wrong with supporting your local business owners!)
If using reclaimed materials for your project isn’t your thing, that’s okay… There are still some ways you can make an environmental impact! Rather than conducting a full-blown demolition, consider using deconstruction techniques and donating the salvaged materials and/or any unused/gently used materials to a local non-profit organization like Restore. And if protecting the environment, helping out local business owners, and contributing to a good cause isn’t enough incentive already, if you donate to a qualified 501(c)(3) charity, you’ll also receive a tax benefit for your organization.
If nothing else, please do your part and recycle all of the C&D materials that you can! At City Disposal Services, we care about the environment and partner very closely with local recyclers to minimize landfilling.
Outagamie County Recycling & Solid Waste operates the Tri-County Regional Landfill and the Tri-County Recycling Facility. The Tri-County Regional Landfill currently manages over 500,000 tons of solid waste each year. The Tri-County Recycling Facility is one of the largest publicly-owned, publicly-operated, single stream recycling facilities in the United States which provides recycling services to nearly 16% of the state’s population! The recycling facility processed over 82,000 tons of household recyclables in 2013 alone, with projections reaching beyond 95,000 tons by the end of 2014! The recyclables are separated and compressed into bales, and then delivered to local companies and manufacturers to be turned into new products.
To further their positive impact on the environment, Outagamie County Recycling & Solid Waste is currently working on a project to divert and recycle asphalt shingles. The shingles will help supply a local business with quality raw materials and keep more material out of the landfill. For more information on their recycling efforts, check out their YouTube video.
So next time you’re about to throw something in a garbage can at home or a dumpster on a jobsite, think about the impact that may have on the environment and evaluate your alternatives!