How to Figure Out How You’re Overspending on Waste

There comes a point in every dealing with a hauler where you are done. Maybe it was when you’ve called for the hundredth time only to wait on hold for half an hour. Maybe it was when you found garbage strewn about your site after pick-up. Or maybe it was when they raised prices unannounced for the second time this year. 

No matter how you’ve arrived at this point, you know that there has to be a better way. And there is!

But you may find yourself wondering how to move forward. How do you get to a place where your waste management is under control?

Use these six steps to review your waste management process. 

  1. Recruit colleagues. 

  2. Pick a time frame.

  3. Conduct the Basic Audit. 

  4. Review your contract. 

  5. Analyze findings. 

  6. Evaluate next steps. 

Each of these steps will allow you to find where you are overspending on your waste disposal. 

It will require some work and persistence, but with a little effort, you will have the relief of knowing that your waste spend is firmly under control. 

Let’s look more closely at each step. 

Recruit Colleagues

As any superhero will tell you, you need a buddy or two. In your fight against price-gouging haulers and unruly contracts, you’re going to need support. 

 If you only want to evaluate one site, and you may be able to conduct the audit yourself - or with just one or two colleagues. You’ll want to pick someone who is detail-oriented, organized, and ready and willing to chip in some time on behalf of your efforts. 

Pick a time frame

Decide which weeks will work best for your audit. Set yourself up for success! Schedule this audit before holidays so that you’ll get a good picture of disposal trends.

Decide what time of day will work for you (and your team).  Keep in mind when your containers are most frequently used. Also be mindful of your team’s availability and limitations.

Conduct the Basic Waste Audit 

You can’t fix problems you don’t know about. So it’s vital to assess your waste process. In this section, we’ll take you through each step of evaluating your waste spend. 

The person in charge of the audit will first take down all of the info about the equipment that will be evaluated. They’ll record dumpster size, etc.

For four weeks, at the same time each day, take pictures of the fill status of your dumpsters, toters, or compactors on all of your sites. This will help you figure out if you are being serviced too frequently, as well as if your hauler is missing pick-ups.

Use a shared document like a google sheet if you have multiple people who will be recording this information!

Review Your Waste Hauler Contracts

The three biggest ways people overpay on waste is by not paying attention to contract length, pricing, and ancillary fees. 

Your contract term length may be anywhere from 2-5 years. This is really important to know! If you have a bad contract, it may be far more feasible for you to get out of a 2 year contract than one that extends to 5 years! 

You’ll also want to look at pricing - does your hauler contract prohibit or strictly reduce hauler price hikes? If not, you’ll need to take that into consideration as you evaluate the pros and cons of your contract. 

Ancillary fees are often listed on the left side of invoice: like these. 

WM Sample Hauler Fee Invoice.png

The examples here include Fuel/Environmental Charge and Regulatory Cost Recovery Charge. Some others are recycling recovery, minimum tonnage, and container service plan fees.

Ancillary fees are not mandated by local or state government. They don’t absolutely have to appear on your bill. So if you’re paying a few extra hundred dollars a month for these fees, it’s critical to evaluate whether this is sustainable long-term. 

Analyze Findings

At this point in the six steps, you are officially armed and dangerous. You know your contract(s) and you’re familiar with your current service levels. Take some time to review your findings.

Did you find that your dumpster is never picked up when it’s full? Find other equipment issues? Did you find major problems with your contract? Take a bird’s eye view of your current waste management process and make a pros and cons list to determine what is working for you, and what isn’t ideal long-term. 

One other thing to keep in mind: it can be truly valuable to evaluate your waste management from a service standpoint. Your hauler may never miss a pick-up, or never leave trash on the ground, but they may be impossible to reach. This is annoying at best, and a time drain at worst. 

Evaluate Next Steps 

Now that you know where your waste management has problems, you can look at possible solutions. Maybe you need additional pieces of equipment. Or maybe you need a new hauler contract entirely!

Consider getting other bids from area haulers, or trying to renegotiate your current contract. 

Moving forward, keep in mind that whatever changes you make will not only likely have a financial impact, but an impact on people as well. 

Ultimately you want visitors (or residents) at your property to have a positive experience. This can be difficult if, say, your dumpsters are constantly overflowing.  And your want you and your staff to be free to work on true priorities. Making sure your waste management is streamlined and effective ensures that you and your people are taken care of. 

Eliminating your waste worries will serve you financially, but you can’t put a dollar amount on  the peace of mind you’ll also have as a result. 

Want to learn more about how to review your business’ waste process? Feel completely overwhelmed at the very thought? We’ve conducted free audits for hundreds of people just like you. Reach out to us or drop us a line (828-386-4153). We’d love to hear from you!