Work with Your Waste & Recycling Hauler
In most cases, businesses already have an established waste hauling partner they’ve selected to handle their trash services. Oftentimes this service doesn’t include recycling. Knowing how to navigate a conversation for recycling services from a hauler is essential to be able to establish a program that will achieve your goals within your budget.
Research Haulers and Services
First, find out who is your current hauler for trash. If your current hauler offers recycling services (not all do), it is often advantageous to add this service through them. If your current hauler doesn’t offer recycling, or if you would like to make sure that you are getting the best services and rates available, do some research on available haulers in the area. SWACO can provide a list of active service providers in Franklin County.
Gather a basic understanding on the services the haulers provide and the recyclable materials they can collect.
Questions to ask haulers:
- What recyclable materials do they accept?
- Will the business receive revenue from any of the materials? If so, how much will be received for those materials?
- What are the charges for the collection of recyclables?
- If the hauler is collecting both trash and recycling, is there a price savings by bundling those services?
- Are there any requirements on how the recyclables must be prepared prior to collection?
- Are they willing to help in conducting a waste audit or educating staff on the recycling program?
Have all prospective haulers visit your facility for a walkthrough of your operation. Discuss what type of containers will be used to store the recyclables prior to collection by the contractor (i.e. a second dumpster for recycling adjacent to the existing trash dumpster, wheeled carts placed by the loading dock, etc.) Identify where the recycling containers will be placed. Is there adequate space? Share any expectations or restrictions to servicing the containers that the hauler needs to know about. For example, if there is a busy time for deliveries for your operation there should be communication well ahead of time to your hauler to determine when trash and recycling service should be conducted in order to avoid conflicts with deliveries.
If you conducted a waste audit, share your findings with the hauler to give them more information on your operation.
After the walkthrough the hauler should be able to put a proposal together for the requested services.
Review the Following:
- Rates: Make sure that the rates to provide the service are clear. There could be multiple rates: rates to haul the containers, tonnage fees to process the materials, and monthly service charges. Compare the prices to what your facility is expected to generate for recyclables and calculate the expected annual expense and/or revenues. If you don't understand the proposed rates, don't be afraid to ask questions!
- Consider reviewing your trash collection agreement at the same time. Often when starting a recycling program there is an opportunity to reduce the frequency of your trash service. Review any available waste audit data to get an idea of how much recyclable material is going to be diverted from the trash that would previously have been disposed.
- Contamination Charges: Some companies charge a fee if the recyclables that are collected are contaminated with too many non-recyclable items. This occurs when employees are putting the wrong materials in your recycling containers. Heavy contamination of recyclables can cause problems when processing the materials, resulting in additional expenses and requiring more material to be landfilled. While contamination charges are an acceptable practice, make sure that the terms and requirements are clear:
- Make sure that you will receive at least one “warning” prior to receiving any contamination charges, This will allow you time to correct the problem before incurring a charge.
- If any charges are assessed, make sure that the contamination is documented with photographs and provided to you. This will provide more certainty on the nature of the problem.
- Term of Agreement: Make sure that the length of the contract is clear and fully understood. While less common than in the past, some waste contractors will include an “automatic renewal” provision in the contract that renews the contract for an additional full term if you don’t proactively terminate the agreement within a small window of time prior to the scheduled termination date of the agreement. This is not to your advantage and should be removed.
Invoicing & Data
- Discuss the billing process: If you have specific invoicing needs for your internal accounting systems make sure that those are communicated well ahead of time to the hauler.
- Line Items: Ask to have different services, such as trash and recycling, broken out in separate line items in order to associate cost saving measures to your program. Seeing one combined cost gives limited insight when tracking the savings a recycling program can provide.
- Data: Inquire about reports on your volumes to allow for tracking of progress in your program. Typically, these reports can be generated at the same time as invoices are sent out by haulers. If actual volumes can’t be given due to the type of services, check to see if a standard weight can be determined based on density of the waste & recyclable being hauled, the size of collection container or dumpster, and the frequency of service over a week or months’ time.
If your business is currently leasing your space, you’ll want to engage your landlord or property management group early in your process of establishing a recycling program. They should be able to help with providing information as well as adjusting existing agreements under their control.
Questions to consider:
- Who is responsible for contracting waste services?
- If it is the property manager's responsibility, make sure to communicate how important the availability of recycling is to your company. Sometimes just knowing that tenants want recycling service is enough motivation for a property manager to start providing the service.
- If you cannot convince the management company to add recycling to your building services, you can choose to contract those services independently with a "valet" type of hauler who can service your office individually.
- Is the Property Manager responsible for contracting custodial services?
- If they are, ask for their help and support in making any procedural changes that are necessary to implement your recycling program. For instance, make sure that the custodial service provider clearly understands that the recycling containers are always emptied into the recycling dumpster, and the trash in the trash dumpster. As simple as this sounds, whether through lack of communication, confusion, or a desire to finish the cleaning work quickly, this is a common point in the system where things can go wrong. Your custodial service, whether internal or externally provided, is often a critical component to a successful program.
- As an alternative, your Green Team may choose to collect the recycling in your space and allow the contracted housekeeping service to collect the trash only. If needed, consider alternative options to ensure your recycling program is sustainable and successful.
- If you are located in a building with multiple tenants, engage other businesses to determine their interest in having recycling service offered at your building.
- The more tenants that are interested in recycling services, the more likely the property management or landlord is to make changes to keep their tenants happy.
- Engaging the property management or landlord group will be very important if a hauler suggests that any facility improvements are needed in order to offer recycling.