Accurate metrics is key to a successful waste and recycling program. It helps you evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts, and determine if changes are needed. The numbers also inform your overall sustainability reporting and affect your goals. But what happens when those numbers are not correct?
Many businesses and organizations simply accept the metrics they receive from their hauler without question, and without verification. In our experience, you will get accurate metrics only by monitoring your figures and working with haulers. A trusted working relationship with the hauler is key.
Here’s an example.
The Case Of The Suspicious Metrics
In the D.C. region, one of the haulers we work with is Georgetown Paper Stock (GPS). They collect and process a range of waste and recycling materials for our clients. One highlight of GPS’s service is that they provide 96-gallon toters for the collection and storage of mixed paper and glass-metal-plastic (GMP) recyclables. Every day, they remove the full toters, and leave behind empty ones. It is easy and convenient for buildings and businesses, which is one reason why we have matched them with some of our clients.
While their service was regular, we noticed that the waste and recycling metrics GPS was reporting did not seem to match what we thought was being collected and processed.
“If something does not look right, we double check to verify the accuracy of the information our clients are receiving from their hauler,” explains David Troust, Great Forest’s V.P. of business development.
“With the USGBC, GBCI and other organizations increasingly requiring more accurate and timely data, we strive to ensure that our hauling partners are able to provide us the most accurate waste data possible. This is a key part of what we do for clients, and it relies on the trust we’ve established with the haulers, and our understanding of how they operate.
So we went back to GPS and began asking questions.
Our investigation revealed that the empty GPS toters were not being placed in the same location in the loading dock every day. As a result, the signage we had put up on walls of the dock, where the toters were supposed to be stationed, could not be used to identify which toters should be used for mixed paper, and which for GMP.
This created confusion among the janitorial staff. Cleaning crews had to take extra time to look into each toter to see what recyclables each held, and mistakes were being made. This lead to contamination of the recyclables collected, and a lower diversion rate for the client.
Payoff For A Trusted Relationship
We then worked with the hauler to find a solution. Due to the tight space available in the busy loading dock, we found out that it was not possible to guarantee that the toters could be placed in the exact same position each day. So we determined that labeling the toters would be the best and easiest solution. GPS toters are generally not labeled, but they agreed to label them for our clients.
“Georgetown Paper Stock is committed to providing the best recycling services in the industry at competitive pricing. We sincerely value our ongoing partnership with Great Forest and are committed to taking whatever steps are necessary to fine tune our processes and metrics reporting to ensure we are meeting our customer’s needs,” said GPS V.P. Dawn Jessel.
With the new system, we expect to see leaner waste streams, less contamination, less recycling disposed of in the trash, and more accurate metrics data.
“We’re glad that GPS is working with our team on this initiative, as one of our main goals is to ensure that our client’s recycling efforts are supported fully by the haulers that service their properties,” said Troust.
“It’s a win win. It’s good business for the hauler, and quality service and accurate metrics for our clients. That’s our payoff for building ongoing, trusted relationships.”