In trash we trust

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trash or waste

Continuing last week’s discussion about my trust issues, and battle cry of “Don’t Trust THE GUY.” I would like to examine why we trust our waste haulers implicitly. We really do. For those of us with national waste contracts, we trust that we are getting the best price for waste removal, that we have the right amount of service, and that we have the right kind of service for our demographic and for compliance with any waste disposal regulations.

A friend of mine once confessed to me, “I have zero interest in waste, and I outsource it whenever I can.” My friend is not alone, but outsourcing means trusting THE GUY you outsource to.

Here are the flaws I see with trust in trash programs:

First, we cannot trust the data because there either isn’t any, or it is mostly made up. There are no meters on waste today. The cameras on the service trucks are only there to provide documentation of overages. So, tonnages are calculated by multiplying the number of bins x size x frequency of service. I know you might think “Oh, but with my national agreement with my hauler, I get the tonnages!” Sorry. You are still trusting THE GUY. There are no meters on the bins and no scales on the trucks to record how much YOUR bin weighs when they lift it. Rather, these tonnages are estimated by simply weighing the truck when it leaves the yard and weighing it when it comes back. The tonnage is then allocated to the number of containers on the route that day with the assumption that they are all equally full.

Second, you are trusting that the service actually happened. With metered utilities, if there is no usage, the meter does not move so there is no cost for the commodity. Not true with waste! Do you believe every dumpster on your property is serviced for every single event you are charged for? You are really trusting THE GUY here too. After adding devices to containers to verify fullness, I saw that most sites started with 26% of service events missed on average. However, by creating accountability with the haulers, this metric was reduced to 10% missed. Still not terrific, but better.

What is the solution? Yes, there is IoT out there. There are also waste auditors who will pick through your bins to determine right sizing. The real solution is to stop trusting THE GUY and observe our ‘back of house’ functions. Remember with lighting how, when we come onto a property, we look up to see if the photosensors are keeping the lights on during the daytime? It is time to start looking into our bins. We cannot just think of what is easier; we must also consider what is accurate. This ultimately could change your services and your trust in THE GUY.