Most businesses are overspending on waste, in one way or another. Waste removal, recycling, and medical waste disposal can be expensive if you choose the wrong services or mismanage your materials, and you could even be in violation of laws and regulations.
So what, exactly, are the main avenues that cause businesses to lose money in this area?
Lack of Attention
First and foremost, many business owners don't take their waste management strategy seriously. They don't think about how much they're spending on waste management, so they never realize their own inefficiency.
In many cases, all it takes is an initial waste audit to help you understand where you're spending money, and which strategies can help you improve your profitability. A waste audit will thoroughly review your waste expenses, sources of inefficiency, and methods of disposal, looking for opportunities where you can improve. Even if you don't find a source of massive loss to overcome, you can likely discover at least one approach to improve.
One of the main sources of overspending in waste is the presence of overage fees. Whenever you have trash overflowing from a dumpster, or extra garbage bags on the ground, you'll end up paying an overage fee. Oftentimes, you'll pay by the cubic yard; this is why overage fees are often called "extra yardage."
If you have an extra bag on a single occasion, this isn't a big deal. But recently, extra yardage fees have skyrocketed — meaning if you have extra waste on a regular basis, you could be needlessly hemorrhaging money. For example, if you're paying a $250 additional fee every time you have overflowing trash, your profitability will take a massive hit.
Fortunately, there are several strategies that can help you overcome this. First, you can train your employees to keep the trash lids shut, ensuring that trash never goes above a certain level. If you find yourself with additional waste needs, you can schedule more frequent pickups.
It's also important to acknowledge the possibility of error. Occasionally, you'll face overage fees and extra yardage fees on an invoice, without any evidence of extra waste. This isn't usually an attempt to trick you, but even honest mistakes can cost you if you aren't careful.
Other Additional Fees
Overage fees aren't the only additional fees that waste management companies will charge you. If you aren't paying attention, all those little fees can add up to be massively expensive; in fact, in some cases, all these extra charges can practically double your original bill.
Some of these fees include:
- Fuel fees, covering the cost of travel.
- Environmental fees, to maintain environmentally sustainable practices.
- Regulation-related fees, to recover costs of adhering to legal regulations.
- Container maintenance fees, to keep your containers in good condition or replace them.
- Franchise fees, based on the franchise.
- Removal charges, in addition to your core costs.
- Contamination fees, for waste mixed in with recycling.
In many cases, these fees are reasonable, and are part of the cost of any waste management service. However, in many cases, these fees are excessive — or aren't reflective of the services you're getting. It's important to know exactly what you're paying for, and exactly what's fair, or else you'll run the risk of overspending.
You'll need the proper equipment for your waste, since even a small mistake can be extremely costly when compounded over the course of months or years. Dumpsters, for example, come in a wide variety of forms and styles; there are rear-loading and front-loading dumpsters, apartment-style dumpsters, and dumpsters with varying volumes of storage. Roll-off dumpsters and compactors may also be necessary for your business. But if you have too much equipment, or if you're not using the right equipment, you could easily overpay.
Recycling and Contamination Fees
Recycling has become a difficult dilemma for many businesses. Recycling is a good thing, with enormous environmental benefits, but recent changes in the landscape of international recycling have made it more challenging and more expensive to recycle responsibly. If you choose to recycle, you may end up paying egregious "contamination fees" for the waste that gets mixed in with your recycling, or overall much higher fees. Finding better recycling services and practicing stricter recycling habits can help you avoid excessive costs in this area.
Starting With an Audit
It's hard to know exactly where you're overspending with waste management until you conduct a thorough waste audit. You need to know exactly what your waste management contracts state (and how they're being applied on a regular basis), exactly how much you're paying for various services, and exactly what your waste needs are. Otherwise, you'll end up spending more than necessary to properly dispose of your business's waste.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer, and researcher. A graduate of Iowa State University, he's now a full-time freelance writer and business consultant. Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and Forbes.com, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter (@LarryAlton3), at LinkedIn.com/in/larryalton, and on his website, LarryAlton.com. Read Larry Alton's Reports — More Here.
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