Reduce Your Waste Costs: 7 Proven Strategies (with Case Studies)

Reduce your waste costs with these 7 proven strategies from Great Forest (with case studies)

What does your waste invoice look like? Are you getting sticker shock and looking to reduce your waste costs? While the cost of waste removal is increasing nationwide, not all of these costs are out of your control, and some may not be justified. It is crucial to identify which services you might be overcharged for, and work with your waste hauler to bring costs down, or make changes to your waste removal service provider and waste program.

Think you are paying too much for waste removal? Here are 7 proven strategies we have used over the years to help our clients save money and improve their waste program, along with case studies that show how businesses have reduced their waste costs, and how you can too.

7 Proven Strategies to Reduce Your Waste Costs

1) Look At Your Waste Bill

Does your waste invoice seem higher than it should be? Are you seeing more and more fees and surcharges tacked on without adequate explanation?  Are price hikes becoming too common and steep? Are you spotting discrepancies?  Take a close look at your waste bill and start asking questions. Some common waste bill charges to watch out for include:

  • Fuel surcharges
  • Container service fees
  • Administrative fees
  • Regulatory fees
  • Disposal fees
  • Contamination fees
  • Annual automatic price increases

Waste haulers are passing some of the rising costs of waste removal onto their clients, but some of these fees may be an overstep on their part. Speak with your hauler to determine exactly why you are being asked to pay the fees listed on your invoice, and ask for those charges to be taken off or reduced whenever possible.

Understanding your bill can also help you learn how to reduce your waste costs. Here’s an example.

CASE STUDY: Hotel Reduces Waste Costs By Understanding Bill and Taking Advantage of Waste Pricing Structure 

One hotel tried to cut costs by eliminating composting service and using a high tech digester instead. A closer look at their bill revealed why this did not work.

Great Forest conducted a tutorial to help the hotel understand how they were being billed, and the discounts offered by the city’s waste service provider–trash was charged at the highest rate, while discounts were offered, and increased, with the amount of recycling and composting.

Great Forest then worked with the hotel to implement a system that would take advantage of the waste provider’s pricing structure by reducing the amount of trash going to the landfill, and increasing the amount of waste collected for composting, enabling more favorable hauling rates.

Based on this work, the hotel’s waste costs decreased from $20,000 to $14,000 a month. Read the full case study here.

2) Review Your Waste Contract

It is often harder to get price adjustments if they are baked into your contact, so remember to review your invoices (see above) as well as contract terms before renewing or signing a new contract.

  • Make sure you remove the auto-renewal clause in your contracts to avoid being locked into long-term, unfavorable terms.
  • Clarify terms, ask questions, and shop around for other waste hauling services. This will arm you with information you can use in renegotiations.

Great Forest has helped many businesses reduce their waste costs and secure better waste removal rates by reviewing invoices and contracts, conducting RFPs, and negotiating. Understanding the local industry and how waste management costs are calculated and incurred allows Great Forest to secure the most favorable contract terms.

3) Right-Size Waste Schedules and Equipment

Did you know, most businesses are paying to haul a lot of air? It has been reported that the average front load dumpster is only 53% full when collected.  This is inefficient and costly. Match your waste removal service to your waste generation levels to optimize your service schedules and prevent unnecessary trips by your hauler, which not only helps to reduce your costs but also reduces GHG emissions.

How can you determine if your business is being overserviced and overcharged?

  • A waste audit is essential. It will give you the data you need to understand your waste generation volumes and patterns, and to determine if your service and waste equipment needs any right-sizing or seasonal adjustments to account for your busiest periods.
  • In addition, AI-powered smart sensors and waste meters can help you “see” inside your dumpsters, sometimes in real time, to determine fullness levels. These tech-enhanced tools, when combined with expert analysis, can supercharge your waste solutions to help you identify and stop service inefficiencies and overcharging by your hauler.

CASE STUDY: 175 AI-Powered Waste-Sensors Help Reduce Waste Costs by 14 percent.

This client came to Great Forest because they felt they were paying too much for waste removal, and that the waste hauler was overservicing their properties. Great Forest installed 175 AI-powered waste sensors, and used the verified the data to demand more accountability from the waste hauler to improve service. The client saw its waste costs decrease by 14 percent.

4) Verify Your Waste Data

Many businesses and organizations simply accept the data they receive from their waste hauler without question, and without verification. This can be a very costly oversight since accurate waste data is the foundation of every successful waste program. Accurate data is needed to:

  • evaluate the effectiveness of waste reduction efforts and determine if changes are needed;
  • help you reach your sustainability goals and for reporting;
  • manage your waste costs and avoid paying more for more waste services than you need.

In our experience, you will get accurate metrics only by monitoring your waste data, and then demanding transparency and accountability from your hauler. This can include working with a third party like Great Forest to conduct waste audits to verify your data. Here is one example:

CASE STUDY: Hauler was Overcharging Client. We Identified and Stopped It.

Great Forest was able to hold one waste hauler accountable by challenging the data they provided, and proving that they were overservicing and overcharging a manufacturer. Presented with verified data, the hauler corrected their data reporting, and stopped overcharging. Based on this discussion, the site’s calculated waste diversion rate increased from 9 percent (hauler-reported) to 56 percent (calculated based on audit results and equipment fullness.)

5) Build a Trusted Relationship With Your Waste Hauler

Waste haulers are an important part of every waste management partnership. You should be able to trust that they will work with you in good faith to correct any mistakes that arise.

CASE STUDY: Hauler Helps Investigate Case of Suspicious Metrics

When waste hauling data didn’t seem to match what was being collected and processed at one facility, Great Forest worked closely with the hauler to investigate and unravel “the case of the suspicious metrics.” The hauler then helped to provide an easy solution.

Trusted, reliable waste haulers are invaluable. Great Forest has built strong relationships with a network of vetted waste haulers across the country over three decades. These haulers work with us not just to provide reliable service and transparent data, but also to improve overall waste management programs. These haulers will go the extra mile for our clients to respond to on-demand service requirements, and to provide flexibility, for example, on payment terms. Most importantly, they pick up the phone when we call and work quickly to solve service issues.

6) Consolidate Your Waste Services

If your business has multiple facilities or offices across a city, state, or even the country, consolidating your waste removal services with one provider, or consolidating all your different waste providers under one point of contact with one waste broker can help reduce your waste costs, and save not just money but also valuable time.

CASE STUDY: Regional Bank Saves Over 140 hours/month.

When Great Forest took over management of one regional bank’s daily waste hauling needs, we freed up over 140 hours/month the client had previously spent on customer service, accounting and hauler management. Great Forest handled all communication with the hauler, troubleshooting of missed pickups, payments, reviews and renegotiations, right-sizing, waste metrics tracking, and more.

7) Reduce Waste Generation

Of course, reducing the amount of waste your business generates in the first place is the best solution to reducing your waste costs. It will also help move you closer towards your Zero Waste or sustainability goals, and bolster your reputation as a leader in responsible business practices. That is something investors, employees, your clients and the public will approve of.

Learn more:

Introducing our new 30 seconds to Zero Waste series of quick insights. We know you’re busy so we’re sharing bite-sized pieces of advice, industry knowledge, and tips to help you reduce waste and costs.

30-second insights: Have you noticed, waste hauler payment terms are getting shorter?

30-second insights: How much will waste cost you in 2024?



Sign up for "3 to Zero (Waste)." Get 3 tips each month + insights.