There have been many factors in recent years that have changed the way we operate. Truck manufacturers have been forced to create ways to reduce the emissions, yet still create the same amount of power and reliability to pick up the same amount of garbage off the streets. We know from some of my past articles that this technology was a bear on the hauler, but after many generations of the regeneration system (knock on wood), the larger truck manufacturers seem to have figured it out. There has also been an increase in public demand to recycle everything, as well as the assumption that single-stream commodities are valuable enough to be entitled to be payment for these materials to the producer. The common theme to any of these is that we are only trying to preserve the world we live in, which we all can agree to. The problem I see in many markets is communities, property managers, municipalities are set in their old ways and generally do not accept change.
If everything in our industry is changing to become more efficient, I believe so should the way we operate. With the implementation of single-stream recycling, this has diverted tonnage to landfills, but that tonnage still has to go somewhere and it just doesn’t disappear because it is “being recycled”. We need to not be afraid to educate the public and make recommendations that create a savings for all of us on all levels. As an example, I have seen municipalities who have had 2x week pickup for residential services. In the latest RFPs they added 1x week single-stream recycling. So for the same amount of waste that was being picked up 2x week, they are requesting another pickup during the week essentially running a truck 52 weeks in the year because “they want to go green and recycle”. What about the carbon footprint our trucks leave by adding this extra service level per week? The hauler is now burning more oil, fuel (natural gas or diesel), DEF fluid, tires, brakes, etc. Essentially, in my opinion, doing a worse job for our world by deploying more trucks to pick up a commodity that then has to be processed at a multi-million dollar facility that continues to leave a carbon footprint to “go green”. If you request the bid spec to reduce to 1x week MSW and 1x week RCY, they look at you like your stealing something from them, although many parts of the country have adopted these practices and are successful in creating routing efficiencies and balancing, keeping the customer’s request in perspective.
A Moving Target
This challenge is one that I feel will never go away. There always seems to be a hauler out there willing to be a slave to all of those customer requests that may be stubborn for change. Business is business; I’m not saying that I would lose a contract because I didn’t agree with frequencies, but what I’m trying to say is, I wish we were the puppeteer and not the puppets. The public should look to us and trust our judgment as to what should be the correct way to handle waste and recycling. Then put out an RFP and let everyone bid on it. What worked yesterday, may not work tomorrow. This industry is a moving target; when factors change, we must evolve our strategies to make sense for the environment because that is the common goal for everyone, correct? Haulers exist in America to make the garbage and recycling legally and safely disappear. As our trucks, technology and other waste products evolve to be more efficient, we must evolve our practices to be more efficient as well. This efficiency will then create a profitable environment and reduce the carbon footprint our multi-ton vehicles impose on our communities day in and day out. | WA
John Paglia, III is a 4th generation garbage man. Before he climbed the ranks to become Florida Express Environmental’s (Ocala, FL) General Manager, he had a successful career in college and professional athletics. John has been around the garbage industry since his car seat days. Currently, John is focused on growing his company and offering the highest level of customer service and prolonging the world we live in today. John wakes up every day knowing the impact professional haulers have on their community is far greater than most realize. He can be reached at (352) 629-4349, e-mail John3@floridaexpress. us or visit www.floridaexpress.us.