How to Stop Overspending on Your Waste Disposal

Sometimes it seems like the waste industry is just one big headache. Contracts are difficult to get out of. Pick-ups are often late, or missed completely. Expensive haulers get away with being paid even more. Ultimately, you can end up overpaying by thousands of dollars as the years pass. 

Your disposal services are likely not really serving you. 

But with some effort you can fix that, starting today.

To figure out how to stop overspending, you’ll need to

  • Review your waste process

  • Learn the ins and outs of your contract

  • Make strategic service changes

  • Monitor those changes

Think of these as the four keys to unlocking savings. 95% of businesses - across all industries - are overspending on waste services. It’s likely that you’re sitting on hundreds or thousands of dollars of waste savings. But use these four keys, and you can find them!

And since you’re likely to be short on time, this post boils it down to the essentials and will walk you through each step.

Reviewing Your Waste Process


You may be looking at your waste stream and thinking, “Where do I even begin?” I recommend that you start with finding support and go from there. Even if you have less than an hour a week to contribute to a review, it is completely doable if you build a team and assign tasks. Your team can support you through the review process.

  1. Recruit colleagues. Having a team to support the review efforts will ensure accountability and effectiveness. 

  2. Pick a time frame. Take your team’s availability and scheduling issues at your locations. 

  3. Conduct the Basic Audit. Familiarize yourself with the details of your waste streams. Are your dumpsters always full when they are serviced? Do your haulers frequently miss pick-ups? You won’t know until you conduct a basic audit.  

  4. Review Your Contract. Pay special attention to key sections on your contract like: pricing, service levels, and terms. (Use the next section to help you know what to look for!)

  5. Analyze findings. You may find that you need different equipment, or fewer pick-ups, or a new hauler.  

  6. Evaluate next steps. Now that you know what to fix, you can take steps to solve on-going issues. Get a new hauler and a contract with better terms. Or adjust frequency of pick-ups. All of these will affect your bottom line for years to come.  

Learn about Your Waste Hauler Contract


Nobody except legal reads contracts, right? But I like to think of waste hauler contracts as maps - what they contain shows you how to navigate your waste process and find savings.

And don’t worry; you don’t have to read it end to end! Below, you’ll learn what sections of your contract to pay the most attention to. 

Terms - This part of your contract discusses how long your contract is in effect. Most hauler contracts are 3-5 years in length. But you’ll also want to check and see how easy it is to get out of these terms. Is there a fee associated with terminating the contract? What options do you have? Answers to questions like these are critical for implementing long-term, ideal waste solutions.  

Fees - Does your contract allow price spikes? How often can your hauler raise prices? An ideal contract will regulate or even eliminate price hikes. 

Service - How often are your site(s) being serviced? You may not actually need as many pick-ups as you think! There is often a lot of savings to be had in reducing the number of pick-ups, or getting different size dumpsters - or both.

It may also be helpful for you to look over your past few hauler invoices. Do you notice any increases to regular fees? Are you paying for services that aren’t in your contract? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, you know you’re overspending!

Making Disposal Service and Waste Equipment Changes 


Every company has at least three options to reduce waste expenses. Once you know your waste process and your hauler contract pretty well, you’ll be able to see where it’s possible for you to make changes.

Suppose, for instance, that you now know that your haulers fees have increased twice in the past year, and that there are other haulers in the area who could do the same service for less. This is valuable information! You could use it to renegotiate your contract with your current hauler, making sure it includes decreased service fees.

Every business is a little different, but at least one of these options will likely be the best one for yours.

Renegotiating Your Contract - Some companies don’t need to get out of their contract completely; they just need different terms or different service levels. Other companies may not financially be able to exit their contract. Either way, for a lot of companies, renegotiating their contract makes financial sense. 

Finding a New Hauler/Getting a New Contract - Some companies, on the other hand, find that it makes more financial sense to exit their contract, and pay out for the remainder. If you find yourself in this spot, send out bids to other area haulers and see if someone else can provide better levels of services. 

Getting New Equipment - Depending on your situation, getting different sizes of equipment can significantly reduce expenses related to waste equipment. If, for instance, you have two four-yard dumpsters that get picked up five times a week, you could upgrade to an eight-yard dumpsters that gets picked up three times a week - and save a nice sum each year as a result. 

Monitoring Those Changes

Moving forward, you’ll want to make sure that the changes you’ve implemented are actually working. If you’ve gotten a different contract or a new hauler, you should see a difference in savings almost immediately. The same with equipment - the savings should be evident on the next month’s invoices. 

But in order to make sure you’re getting the full effect of the your efforts, you’ll need to also monitor hauler invoices. We find that haulers make mistakes about 10% of the time - and that adds up fast! Make sure you know what you’re supposed to be charged, and make sure your billing reflects that. 

It’s also worth it to periodically revisit your basic audit. Waste needs tend to change over time in every industry, so you want to be sure that you aren’t overlooking savings you could take advantage of. 

You Don’t Have to Keep Overspending on Your Waste Disposal


With some effort and patience, you’ll see how waste savings can add up. If you carefully review your waste process, your contract and service levels, and make strategic choices, you can reign in overspending. But you can also find relief from waste worries - from price hikes, from awful service, and from terrible contracts. 

You can take charge of your waste worries, and you can start today!