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4 Ways Inefficient Waste Management Costs Your Business And 4 Ways To Fix It

Inefficient waste management can cost your business in various ways. Here are 4 key indicators and 4 practical solutions for better affordability.

Bradford Arick | July 27, 2023


Waste management is an often overlooked part of operations for many businesses, both large and small, due to its complicated nature and perception of limited options. This results in inefficient waste management that contributes to significant business challenges when it comes to budget control, environmental sustainability, and regulatory compliance.  So how do you identify if your waste and recycling services are operating inefficiently?

Here are four key indicators of an inefficient waste management program and four ways your business can course correct to more reliable, affordable, and sustainable waste management.

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4 key indicators of an inefficient waste management program


1. Excessive Downtime And Recurring Issues

No matter your business, profitability is likely at its core, and this usually depends on operations running smoothly. That means your operation values the efficient use of resources, places a priority on mindful spending of budget, and requires machinery and tools to work properly to avoid downtime. Turns out, that should also apply to your waste management operations, and when these factors are not optimized for your needs, it can be a key indicator of an inefficient waste management program, especially when issues become recurring problems.

When dealing with waste and recycling, downtime can be a result of three actions (or inactions) that cost your business time and money. First, when your service provider frequently misses scheduled pick ups resulting in dumpster overflows. Depending on your industry, this can mean work stoppage, regulatory compliance issues, fines, legal issues, and reputational damage. And if food and organic waste is involved, odors can quickly overtake a facility and environmental safety can become a major issue.

Total losses due to machine downtime are estimated to total US$864 billion per year across Fortune Global 500 industrial companies.

Second, downtime can result from poor care of equipment by your waste service provider or vendors which could result in broken down compactors or balers that can interrupt your operations. Recurring breakdowns of equipment can result in higher operational costs because of repairs, replacements, and additional labor requirements.

Thirdly, downtime can happen as a result of poor operations resulting in bottle necks. Not knowing where in your operations the most waste is produced, this could cause work stoppage due to incorrect equipment needs or service scheduling. 

An optimized waste management system ensures affordability by making sure both you and your vendors are operating efficiently and reliably. 

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2. Inability To Deal With Fluctuating Waste Volumes And Streams

If your business routinely finds itself scrambling to deal with fluctuations in waste volumes and streams, that could be an indicator that your program is inefficient and your business could be paying more money than is needed. 

Inefficient waste management programs lack the necessary infrastructure and capacity to handle high volumes of materials, resulting in a struggle to keep up with the waste generation rate during periods of high production. Materials can pile up in bins and at collection points, especially during seasonal fluctuations such as holidays or special events. Many haulers will charge extra fees to service bins that are overloaded or overflowing. Additionally, inefficient waste management systems often struggle to adapt service schedules to accommodate fluctuating volumes and streams. During high production periods, waste collection might occur as frequently as needed. On the other hand, during off-peak periods, your business could be paying for unnecessary pickups for bins that are not full and processing equipment that sits idle.

It is critical for budgeting and operational efficiency that your waste management provider can be flexible enough to handle these changes rather than providing a one-size-fits-all service schedule.


chart (2)Source: EPA


3. Inaccurate Data Collection And Reporting

How does your business collect data and compile reports on your operational waste and recycling management program? Is this done in-house, or do you rely on a third party to handle it? In an era of increasing scrutiny regarding business operations and environmental sustainability, both consumers and leaders are requiring that the impacts of products and services be quantified. This data not only provides an insight into the effects of a business on the biosphere, but also how protected a business is from climate-related impacts. This data must include waste management operations.

Many waste services providers rely on estimates and equations to determine equipment and service needs. These estimates also provide the basis for data collection and reporting. However, estimates do not provide a true picture into how well a waste management program is performing for a business. Inaccurate data can result in over-and underestimations for something like waste volumes, leading to problems with processing capabilities, collection infrastructure, and unnecessary expenses. Inaccurate reporting also negatively impacts ESG scores.

Accurate data is essential to make informed decisions with waste management regarding resource allocation, waste processing methods, and cost savings opportunities. Work with a provider which employs data analytics and smart technology tools to ensure accuracy. 

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4. High Costs For Landfilling

Simply sending all of your business’ waste to landfills is not always the most efficient, affordable, and environmentally sound method of disposal. Inefficient waste management programs tend to rely heavily on landfilling, leading to higher charges due to associated cost increases for transportation and equipment. Other fees associated with landfills include environmental regulations, land costs, leachate management, and methane emissions. The majority of these costs are passed on to the customer, often making landfilling waste overly expensive for businesses. Meanwhile, implementing recycling and composting systems along with waste reduction initiatives can mean avoiding or reducing these landfill costs, making operational waste management optimized and affordable for businesses.

Adopting modern waste management technologies and equipment, and implementing more affordable disposal methods can mean increased cost savings and an efficient, optimized waste management program.

4 Solutions For Efficient Waste Management


1. Regular Equipment/Service Inspections And Performance Evaluations

One practical solution businesses can leverage to fix inefficiencies in waste management operations is regular inspections and evaluations of equipment, services, schedules, and vendors. This proactive measure enables those tasked with the oversight of a business’ waste management program to identify potential operational issues before they escalate and assess current program efficiency. 

Utilizing advanced monitoring systems and sensor technology can help feed data at scale across an entire company’s footprint. Adding AI to this process creates advantages for businesses in being able to detect abnormalities, identifying potential problems before they arise, and advanced monitoring and analysis of waste streams. Ensuring equipment such as compactors or balers are finely tuned machines running in an optimal capacity is what businesses should be aspiring to achieve. Anything suboptimal likely means increasing costs.




Concurrently, performance evaluations also help gauge the effectiveness of a business waste operation. Waste auditing is a prudent step for most businesses as this process uncovers inefficiencies, pain points, and cost savings opportunities. Waste metering technology feeds data in near real-time allowing constant monitoring of equipment and waste streams. It holds vendors and haulers accountable to service schedules as well.

Systematically monitoring, evaluating, and optimizing business waste management processes is a proactive approach that ultimately leads to a more efficient, fine-tuned system that fits the needs of your operations.


2. Data Analysis And Performance Tracking

Leveraging the power of data analytics, businesses are able to gain a deeper understanding of their waste management programs. Data-driven insights allow businesses to see waste pattern generations, composition, disposal trends, pain points, and service issues. Systematically analyzing this information enables companies to continually improve processes for waste management and pivot quickly to meet changing demands. The data can also lay out opportunities for waste reduction and areas of increased recycling efficiency.

Using data analytics to track the performance of operational waste and recycling management helps identify peaks and troughs in waste generation. It can assess the efficacy of waste collection service schedules, analyze data on recycling rates, identify the types of waste being discarded, uncover cost drivers for affordability, and ensure regulatory compliance. Data analytics plays a critical role for businesses in identifying waste management inefficiencies because of the valuable insights it provides into various aspects of operations. Employing this tool is a step toward affordability for many businesses.


world-wasteSource: Visual Capitalist


3. Training And Education For Employees

Empowering employees with the necessary skills and knowledge to tackle waste management inefficiencies can be another solution for greater affordability and greater efficiency.

Through training programs, employees can develop a deep understanding of the various waste management techniques and the consequences of improper waste disposal. This knowledge equips them with the ability to identify potential inefficiencies and take proactive measures to address them. Furthermore, by educating employees about waste reduction strategies, organizations can foster a culture of sustainability within their workforce which has the power to significantly contribute to waste management efficiency and ultimately lead to cost savings for the organization.

By providing hands-on training on waste sorting, segregation, and recycling techniques, organizations can ensure that employees possess the practical skills required for effective waste management. This training can also encompass the proper handling of hazardous waste, ensuring compliance with safety regulations and minimizing any potential harm to the environment and human health.

Investing in comprehensive employee training and education programs is an investment in making waste management more cost effective for businesses.

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4. Engaging Waste Experts

Waste experts, such as RoadRunner, can provide businesses with viable and effective solutions to fix waste management inefficiencies that also correspond to greater affordability.

Waste experts possess the knowledge, skills, and experience required to identify and resolve inefficiencies, and by partnering with these experts, businesses can benefit from their innovative ideas to streamline waste management processes and make them more cost-effective. Many businesses do not have the time or resources to devote to developing a deep understanding of the complexities involved in waste management, including waste reduction, recycling, reuse, and circularity. Third party waste experts are well-versed in the latest technologies and best practices that can optimize waste management operations and minimize costs.

The World Bank estimates global waste to increase by 70% over the next 30 years – to a staggering 3.40 billion tonnes of waste generated annually.

Moreover, waste experts can aid in the large, involved process of waste auditing and waste metering. With their insights, they can propose tailored solutions that address specific challenges faced by businesses and communities, ultimately enhancing affordability.

Engaging waste experts also brings the added benefit of staying up-to-date with the ever-evolving waste management industry. They continuously monitor new regulations, advancements in waste treatment technologies, and emerging trends that can further optimize waste management processes. Working with trusted waste management experts like RoadRunner can have a significant impact on course-correcting inefficiencies that result in gains for cost effectiveness.

Invest In Modern Waste Solutions With RoadRunner

An efficient, optimized operational waste and recycling management program plays a critical role in reducing costs, achieving sustainability goals, and improving productivity for businesses. By understanding the signs pointing to inefficient waste equipment and services, and implementing practical solutions, businesses can streamline operations to reap the associated benefits.

It is crucial that businesses proactively address inefficiencies and invest in modern waste management solutions to stay competitive in today’s environmentally conscious landscape.

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