The waste area in facilities is often the most ignored and forgotten place on the property. Facility funds are usually directed to front-end activities that impact customers and tenants, whereas the waste area is often hidden away in a garage, behind fencing or in a back alley, perpetuating the out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality.
Waste areas are often described as an eyesore, and the amount of garbage that facilities generate will only become more taxing as urbanization and consumerism increase. Meanwhile, facility maintenance workers are faced with a number of issues, from controlling rodents, animals and other pests to mitigating odours.
Other problems include unauthorized access, increasing costs of servicing waste, inaccessible load heights on containers and finding capacity for waste without taking up valuable space. Waste trucks can also block areas of the property when emptying equipment, and, sometimes, this equipment can’t be moved cost effectively when a property’s layout is changed.
There are now several options that help facility maintenance workers proactively address some of these issues related to cost, customer service, health and safety, property management, flexibility, space management, aesthetics and good neighbour relations. Solving these potential problems often comes down to choosing the right equipment. Sometimes, the equipment is selected due to convenience or because the hauler carries a specific brand. Facility maintenance managers may also believe their choices are limited.
Small footprint, high-efficiency compactors are the physical size of a standard six-yard dumpster, but are fully enclosed and offer waste capacities from 24 yards to as high as 36 yards for general waste or cardboard, and over 48 yards for recycling. This equipment is ‘the newest kid on the block’ at seven years old and was designed to address common issues, while still utilizing the high efficient and generally available front-load truck fleet offered by most haulers.
For organics handling, digesters will handle organics by offering an on-site disposal option that moves organic waste to disposal as grey water via the sanitary sewer. Digester technology has been available for more than a decade and offers properties a real solution for organics management. Digesters complement other equipment choices, such as the small footprint, high-efficiency compactors mentioned earlier. This is because removal of heavy and messy organic waste positively impacts the costs of servicing waste, given that waste services are based on both weight and number of site visits.
Waste Equipment Evolves
The evolution of equipment plays a role in the questions facility managers or maintenance workers will want to ask as they undertake initiatives to improve waste handling at a property or business.
The word dumpster was first used commercially in 1936 and came from the Dempster-Dumpster system of mechanically loading the contents of standardized containers onto garbage trucks, first patented by the Dempster Brothers in 1935. The containers were called dumpsters, which was a play on the family name used in the business. Dumpsters, still in use today, are picked up by front-load trucks that follow a route (a lot like a bus on a public transit route) and were popular because, like the bus, they were low cost. Today’s roll-off containers and roll-off compactors are an evolution of the Dempster Dumpster.
The next big equipment advance came in 1978 with the introduction of the vertical compactor; the vertical compactor offered the clear benefits of compaction, combined with the efficiency of front-load truck service. For customers, however, it raised the height that waste bags were to be lifted, required fixed installation, was not completely sealed and often lost compaction as the equipment aged.
In-ground collection systems (also referred to as deep collection systems) appeared in the 1990 timeframe and are about 30 years old now. The early units require a proprietary lift and cannot be lifted by standard front-load trucks, the efficient choice of most haulers for the industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) marketplace.
Today’s in-ground systems offer fork pockets allowing them to be lifted by front-load trucks. One major issue with all in-ground collection systems is they offer no real compaction, making them very expensive from an on-going operational cost for most ICI facilities where volume needs to be considered. A second issue is they are expensive to install and, once installed, there is no flexibility to relocate them because of the deep excavation required for each unit. The aesthetic value of in-grounds is lost, however, when the sheer number of units required to support the needs of a higher-volume ICI facility start to resemble ‘a tank farm’.
The Future isn’t Wasted
The introduction of new compaction options makes compaction generally available to most properties today. Waste compaction means that a property can get more waste capacity with a lower space requirement, rather than giving up valuable space that could be used for parking spots or other storage requirements.
Compaction also reduces the number of times you have large truck traffic on your property. As more businesses realize the need to reduce their carbon footprint, minimizing truck traffic trips and the idling time required to empty waste containers is a positive step in that direction.
Facility teams should assess what a property’s needs are in waste management, including what issues need fixing. Consider what those needs will look like in five years to better incorporate plans and meet directly with equipment manufacturers who can help evaluate how equipment will meet those needs.
Susan Brown is National Sales Manager at BINPAK Compactors, a division of Modern Waste Products. Susan has worked for seven years as part of a team selling BINPAK compactors that improve waste handling at restaurants, hotels and other property types. With over 25 years in business development, Susan enjoys strong relationships with customers. Her credentials include a degree from the University of Guelph in Management Studies and Economics. She is an active Rotarian, a proud Rotary Paul Harris Award Recipient and Chair of a Federal Development Agency partner in Brantford-Brant.