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How to Build a Waste Management Plan for Your Waste Hauling Business

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While most of us are familiar with the frequently cited benefits of proper solid waste, the purpose of any waste management plan is to ensure the proper collection, transportation and disposal of all types of waste, from municipal to industrial, hazardous or non-hazardous. The plan should help you identify where your waste hauling business is now, what your waste-hauling goals are, the specific steps you need to take to reach your goals, and a way to track your fleet and measure your progress towards meeting those goals.

But what details do you need to include in your plan and how do you go about implementing the plan in your waste hauling business? What does the future of waste management look like and what role is Qv21 taking in helping shape that future? We’ll answer all of these questions in this comprehensive guide to creating your own waste management plan.

Why You Need a Waste Management Plan

When talking about the benefits of a proper solid waste management plan, you’ll often hear about the conservation of natural resources, reduced pollution, greater economic development opportunities and improved physical health. While these are obviously great outcomes, as a waste hauler, what kind of business benefits can you and your customers expect from a well-designed waste management plan?

  • Greater operational efficiency and productivity. Qv21 has core software modules within our TMS that you can use to keep your business growing, including advanced features for ticketing, dispatching, and tracking all of your loads.
  • Reduced company stress and greater employee engagement. By avoiding issues with vehicle repairs, unhappy customers and other problems that lead to corporate burnout and poor brand image, you reduce overall company stress and keep your employees happy.
  • Scale your business more effectively. Part of the increased operational efficiency also includes keeping your dispatcher-to-driver ratio low. In doing so, you’ll be able to continue growing your business without the additional overhead costs.
  • Put your team first. A waste management plan can help you keep your drivers safe and happy, customize your payroll contracts, and outsource your surplus workloads to prevent everyone from feeling overwhelmed, all while enhancing data visibility for your back-office team.

What to Include in Your Waste Management Plan

A Budget

As with any new business venture, setting the budget for your project is likely going to be your top priority. The budget for your waste management plan should include outlays (like the cost of buying and maintaining each individual truck in your fleet over its lifespan), overhead costs (such as driver and dispatcher training, software), and operating costs (such as fuel, salaries, and vehicle maintenance). Start with your best estimates of types and percentages of waste you’ll be moving, how far you’ll be moving the loads, and all of your fixed and variable expenses.

And don’t forget to plan for the future of your waste hauling business! Expanding your fleet, hiring more dispatchers, upgrading your software or building more transfer stations along your routes all need to be accounted for too, even if you’re not anticipating immediate growth.

If you’re looking for ways to save, be wary of hidden costs, particularly when working with your technology provider. Some providers like to charge for things like “cell service” which can add up quickly. Ensure your fleet of trucks is using the most fuel efficient parts, has regular maintenance schedules, and your drivers are trained in safe, fuel-efficient behaviors.

Source separation is critically important but often overlooked as a cost saving factor as well. If waste materials are not sorted properly, you may end up sending materials to recycling plants that are actually unable to be recycled and need to be transported back to the landfill. Finally, use software (like Qv21!) to optimize your routes and encourage communication between drivers and dispatchers.

waste management plan infographic

5 Step Planning Process

A waste management plan should contain details about who is responsible for what, the types and amounts of waste to be transported, methods and modes of transportation to be used, transportation routes, and safety training and standard operating procedures for all members of your organization.

  1. Start by assigning responsibility to all relevant persons or parties. Make sure everyone knows their role, from the drivers and the dispatchers to your back-office staff and executives, but have one person be the go-to for any management-related questions.
  2. Establish clear objectives as far as hauling efficiency and cost savings. Know which important transportation metrics you’ll be tracking, how you’ll be reviewing progress and which criteria you’ll use to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of your operation.
  3. Identify and map all waste hauling routes, including the locations of all waste storage, removal, disposal or transfer stations, as well as dumpsters, landfills, junkyards and recycling plants.
  4. Keep a record of all equipment currently in operation, vehicles in your fleet and carefully track (and stick to!) maintenance schedules for all of them.
  5. Establish protocols or standard operating procedures (SOPs) for normal operations, as well as special issues that may arise during collection, transfer or disposal of waste. Ensure you meet local ordinances. Every stage of your hauling operation should align with relevant governmental regulations and waste management best practices. Ask yourself a few additional questions:
    1. Are there special storage or handling measures that need to be considered during the transport process?
    2. What does the training process look like for your drivers, dispatchers and other members of your staff?
    3. How will you encourage participation in the training, track performance once training is complete, and reward good performance or handle poor performance?
    4. How will you communicate important information to everyone within the organization?

recycling plant

Waste Hauling 101

Transportation Methods & Equipment Used

The infrastructure and equipment required to collect, transfer and dispose of waste is a big investment for any size of waste hauling operation. There are many types of trucks, tanks, trailers and other solid waste transportation methods used to move solid waste:

  • Dump trucks
  • Landfill tippers
  • Storage/treatment tanks
  • Steer loaders, excavators and other heavy equipment
  • Walking floor trailers
  • Bulk pneumatic tankers

Transportation Best Practices

To optimize your transportation routes, there are a few things you can do right away. First, avoid having your waste hauling routes overlap and try to keep your collection and transport times the same for each route. During collection, prioritize the largest waste-producing sources over the smaller sources to ensure you’re hauling full loads first.

Give all vehicles and solid waste equipment regular cleaning schedules. Finally, use software to help optimize your routes by tracking loads in real-time with GPS, eliminating paper tickets and automating the ticketing process, and giving your dispatchers status updates on your drivers.

Types of Waste

From municipal waste to industrial waste, construction debris and biomedical waste, different types of waste must be disposed of properly. Municipal and industrial wastes are two of the largest waste categories and the types that waste haulers most commonly deal with.

Industrial waste is the waste generated from the production of consumer goods, agriculture and mining. Municipal waste, meanwhile, comes from residential and recreational sources and could include things like everyday food, paper and plastic, hazardous household chemicals, electronics, and waste from landscaping.

Hazardous industrial or biomedical waste requires safe disposal in a location sufficiently far away for disposal to occur in an environmentally responsible way. Industrial and construction waste should be stored, transported and disposed of separately from other types of waste.

landfill overhead view

The Future of Waste Management

The United States accounts for over 292 million tons of waste per year -- or 12% of the global municipal waste output. As an industry, waste management continues to grow, with industry-wide annual revenue already exceeding $63 billion dollars. As corporations in every industry around the world are increasingly pressured to adopt more eco-friendly business practices, waste haulers are no exception.

Making sustainable improvements to your waste management business and establishing partnerships with local governments can help you cut costs while also improving the lives of people in both urban and rural environments. To understand the importance of prioritizing more sustainable hauling practices, one just needs to look at a few waste management statistics. Take, for example, 2 metrics commonly tracked by waste haulers: loads per truck per day and deadhead miles.

Loads per truck per day directly impacts your revenue and determines whether or not you’re maximizing your profits as effectively as possible. Deadhead miles -- the distance between one unloading point and your next loading point -- translate into wasted money because these are miles driven with no product. It’s estimated that deadhead miles make up over 35% of all miles driven.

Then, there’s fuel efficiency; data from the US Department of Energy revealed that a typical waste collection truck travels between 20,000 and 30,000 miles every year, consuming over 10,000 gallons of diesel along the way. If you’re not into math, that’s the fuel consumption of approximately 3 miles per gallon. Between minimizing deadhead miles and maximizing the fuel efficiency of your fleet, there are plenty of cost savings to be found in your waste hauling business.

So what can you do to make your business more sustainable?

Why Qv21 and Where to Find Us

As a cost-effective, sustainable technology partner to some of the nation’s largest transfer waste transporters, Qv21’s industry-leading transportation management system (TMS) is helping short-haul bulk commodity trucking companies streamline their entire waste collection and transport process. Our core software modules create a more dynamic user experience with greater insights and real-time data:

  • Ticketing: Stop worrying about wasting paper with all of those old, written records. Our automated ticketing functionality provides all of your ticket data digitally for greater accuracy and convenience.
  • Dispatch: Send regular fleet progress updates to your dispatchers so they can make better routing decisions for your waste transporters.
  • GeoTrack: With real-time load tracking via GPS, you can rest easy knowing that your drivers and your equipment get where they need to go.

Qv21's fleet management solution, The LogisticsFramework™ has been helping some of the nation’s largest waste haulers navigate to better insights, greater efficiency and, ultimately, Logistics Without Barriers. For more information, and to get help navigating your own way through the world of fleet logistics, check out our resources page!