Fleet Maintenance and Best Management Practices in the Solid Waste Industry

In order to best determine what improvements may be needed for a City’s or private waste hauler’s solid waste collection fleet, an examination of the fleet’s management, maintenance programs, vehicle replacement schedules, accounting methods, parts inventory management, procurement and a whole host of other critical areas—all of which affect the cost of operating the fleet—is needed.

“Benchmarking and establishing best management practices (BMPs), allows fleet maintenance and management to develop a baseline from which improvement goals can be established”. Bob Wallace, MBA – President, WIH Resource Group, Inc.

In addition, a comprehensive analysis of both the types of services the fleet is providing contrasted with exactly how the fleet is being operated to serve the exact needs is critical. All too often in conducting fleet maintenance and management evaluations, it is determined that the fleet specifications and the associated container type(s), are not optimal for the services the fleet is being required to provide.

Best Management Practices (BMPs)

The term “Best Management Practices” (BMPs) is used to describe the proven techniques, methods and process used by vehicle and equipment management operations to optimize competitiveness, performance and cost effectiveness. Many fleet managers implement best practices as a means to improve operational outputs and customer relations, while reducing the cost to deliver these services.

While industry standards vary somewhat depending on specific vehicle manufacturer; respective components—such as engine, axles, drivelines and transmissions—an important method and valuable tool for any organization, public or private is to benchmark its own fleet management and maintenance procedures against other like sized organizations with comparably climate, geography (terrain) and service area sizes (population) and service types (automated collection verse manual), solid waste, recycling, green waste, food waste, bulk or alley services. This refines and identifies exactly how an organization compares to other organizations in terms of industry comparable BMPs.

Industry Standards and Benchmarking Studies

Benchmarking can be defined as the systematic process of searching for best practices, innovative ideas and highly effective operating procedures that lead to superior performance—and then adapting them to improve the performance of one’s own organization. Benchmarking has been widely embraced by both the private and public sectors as an essential business practice for continuous performance improvement. Solid waste collection fleet managers rely on benchmarking data to:

  1. Objectively measure the quality and levels of the services they provide.
  2. Identify and implement best practices that will enable them to reduce costs and improve services.

Collection Services Review: Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Recycling

Before choosing the components of a collection operation, an organization needs to know what it wants and what services it needs to provide to its customers. Identifying specific needs and service types aids in determining what procedure or type of equipment will fill that need. Next, reviewing the range of optimal specification of the equipment, their tare weight, costs and options, and finding out who manufactures the optimal equipment, allow for an informed and educated decision. All of the products, procedures and systems for the solid waste industry will work, with varying degrees of success, under varying conditions. So how does a fleet manager choose?

The rationale for change can range from a desire to improve operations, satisfy a new demand for services, correct a deficiency or renew worn-out equipment. Whatever the problem, it is important to understand it completely. Trying to determine the financial or political costs of solving the problem are key.

The next step is to visualize what might solve the problem. Can it be solved in one stage, or would it take more? Sometimes one phase must be up and running before the next phase can be implemented. Are there future options that must be allowed for now? Can reordering your present resources solve the problem? It’s important to perform a cost-benefit analysis of all the options.

Fleet Management Audits: Maintenance Verses Operations

Many mechanics contend that drivers abuse trucks, while drivers complain that mechanics cannot keep trucks on the road. The truth likely lies in the middle, but how do managers know for sure? By improving fleet systems information, managers can use concrete data to pinpoint problems concerning procurement, employee attitudes, driver training and to evaluate mechanics’ productivity and performance.

A comprehensive fleet management audit can be valuable in evaluating drivers, mechanics, and operating and cost performance measures that are regularly used to effectively manage a fleet organization. Key performance measures include the unit cost to operate each piece of equipment, the ratio of preventive maintenance costs to total maintenance costs, vehicle availability, vehicle use, labor productivity and shop rate. Managers then can:

  • Identify and allocate costs
  • Evaluate trucks’ conditions
  • Evaluate mechanic productivity and performance
  • Examine management information systems—hardware and software
  • Examine strategies for purchasing vehicles and parts
  • Examine vehicle replacement programs
  • Compare operations to similar-sized fleets

Fleet Size and Specifications Review

Presently, the collection of solid waste is much more expensive than its disposal. Most municipal collection fleets are made up of a variety of truck specifications that service areas with dissimilar topography, population density and waste generation rates.

When vehicles are selected for solid waste collection fleets there is usually very little consideration given to providing the required service at minimum cost. One possibility for minimizing collection costs is to select a fleet of collection trucks, while simultaneously satisfying the service constraints. To illustrate this approach, the waste collection system of a large metropolitan area should be analyzed for proper fleet size and type of collection vehicle. Selection of the optimal fleet size, type of truck and its specifications, are formulated and solved based on analysis of local needs, service parameters and a wide range of other regional and local considerations.

Fleet Use and Efficiency Evaluation

Experienced fleet managers can save 10 percent to 20 percent in maintenance costs—depending on their operation’s condition—if they devote just 20 percent of their time on analysis and long-term planning.

Although many fleet managers who advance to higher positions are strong on buying, repairing and selling equipment, they are weak in analysis and long-range planning—the functions that give their organizations the competitive edge. Analysis and long-term planning particularly are important when determining fleet size—a well-known factor in lowering transportation costs. One way to help optimize fleet size is to change shop hours.

For example, if all mechanics worked only day shifts, every truck serviced is one less truck out on the road. To complete routes, spares must be used, which often are the oldest and least reliable vehicles in a fleet. Spares also are the costliest to maintain, yet have to be kept in a satisfactory operating condition in order to keep them ready for use when newer trucks are being serviced.

Switching mechanics to evening/night shifts should allow maintenance to get rid of most of the reserve trucks, thus slashing maintenance costs and reducing the fleet size without affecting customer service. While this move likely will lower employee morale temporarily, in the long run, it could save jobs.

Fleet Preventative Maintenance Program

All vehicles and other pieces of motorized equipment require maintenance and repair during their life. Since a fleet management organization’s primary mission is to maximize the availability of vehicles so that its customers can productively do their jobs, the focus of maintenance management for such organizations needs to be in developing practices that minimize unscheduled incidents of repair and that return vehicles requiring repair to service in as little time as possible.

The objective of a preventative maintenance (PM) program is to minimize equipment failure by maintaining a constant awareness of the condition of equipment and correcting defects before they become serious problems. A PM program also minimizes unscheduled repairs by causing most maintenance and repair activities to occur through scheduled inspections. An effective PM program pays dividends not only in improved vehicle safety and reliability, but also financially by extending the life of vehicles, minimizing the high cost of breakdowns and reducing lost employee productivity resulting from fleet downtime.

Parts Inventory Management

A significant portion of a fleet operation’s annual expenditures can be accounted for in parts management. This cost can vary significantly from one fleet operation to the next depending on the composition, age and application of equipment in a fleet.

The primary goal of every parts operation is to maintain a sufficient inventory in order to fill a high percentage of part requests immediately while sustaining a high part turnover rate. This can be a difficult task, due to the logistics with seasonal parts, vehicle and equipment replacements, poor vendor performance, cumbersome procurement procedures, insufficient warehousing space, inadequate staffing levels, an antiquated information system and a wide array of other factors. Hence, efforts to reduce a parts operation’s costs and maintain an inventory to sustain an acceptable fill-rate can often time seem to be diametrically opposed.

Fleet Maintenance Training Programs and Policies

As refuse collection vehicles continue to grow in complexity and sophistication, the technicians who maintain them must upgrade their skills to keep the vehicles running properly. To reduce costs and prevent vehicle downtime while improving technicians’ capabilities and morale, organizations need to invest in new, ongoing technical training programs.

Making an investment in an organization’s people through training builds the morale of a team and helps keep the reliability of fleets at a higher standard.

Fleet Replacement Program

The replacement of vehicles and equipment in a timely manner is a problem for many fleet operations. The decision to replace equipment is often driven by the fiscal health of the organization, breakdown or failure of the asset, or some other unpredictable factor. However, a proper fleet replacement program can provide both fleet reliability and fiscal stability for a fleet operation and to the general organization.

Vehicles and equipment are replaced at various times depending on the type of vehicle and the nature and intensity of its use. Timely replacement is important for controlling vehicle availability, safety, reliability and efficiency. The economic theory of vehicle replacement holds that vehicles should be replaced when the sum of ownership and operating costs is at a minimum.

A fleet replacement plan projects future replacement dates and costs for each vehicle in a fleet. Its purpose is to identify long-term spending needs and associated budgetary requirements. In most fleet operations, vehicle replacement practices are dictated primarily by the availability of replacement funds rather than by objectives such as minimizing vehicle lifecycle costs. Consequently, the comparison of projected annual fleet replacement costs with historical replacement spending levels provides a good indication of the adequacy of fleet replacement practices—as opposed to guidelines or goals. Inadequate replacement spending not only increases the age and operating costs of a fleet, but also results in the accumulation of replacement needs that, if left unattended, can become so large that significant fleet downsizing is unavoidable.

Replacement guidelines are used to project and plan for future fleet replacement requirements and to trigger assessments of the need to replace individual vehicles whose age and/or life-to-date usage is approaching established guidelines. There are two primary methods of setting vehicle replacement criteria and retention cycles—the empirical (or lifecycle cost) method and the best practice method.

Fleet Financial and Accounting: Cost Allocation Management

There are basically two ways that operating funds can be provided to a fleet management organization to support the management, maintenance, and fueling of a fleet: through direct appropriations to the organization or through the use of an internal charge-back system which recovers the organization’s costs through charges to other organizations for the goods and services it provides them.

One reason for implementing a charge-back system is to promote equitable treatment of fleet users. Since users pay only for the resources they consume, there is no cross-subsidization of fleet costs under a properly designed and implemented charge-back system. One of the implications of this benefit is that fee supported departments and programs pay the full cost of the fleet resources they consume and do not receive any subsidies from the general fund, which often occurs when a fleet management organization is part of the general fund.

Fleet Maintenance and Management Performance Measurements

Implementation of a system of meaningful key performance indicators is another important initiative that a fleet management organization can pursue to improve communication with its customers and to demonstrate the value of the services that it provides. Performance measurement allows an organization to:

  • Reduce reliance on subjective judgment and speculation
  • Track performance against standards and benchmarks
  • Hone in on areas of the organization that require improvement
  • Track trends over time

Procedures should be in place to distribute work to mechanics so as to promote high levels of mechanic productivity and efficiency and to minimize repair turn-around time and assign the work to a specific mechanic based on an assessment of mechanics’ availability and skills. Additionally, a prioritization system should be used to identify vehicles that are to be moved ahead in the repair queue based on their importance to the customer organization.

Vendor and Contract Performance Reviews and Programs

Vendors may be relied upon to perform fleet maintenance and repair services for a variety of reasons, including managing in-house work backlogs; avoiding costly investments in facility construction, tooling, training, and staffing to meet low volumes of service demand in remote areas or for specialty repairs; and to achieve a degree of flexibility (e.g., in terms of locations, hours of service, etc.) in the provision of services.

The cost-effective use of vendors requires, however, that procedures be followed for 1) determining the comparative cost effectiveness of performing a service in-house or using a vendor, 2) managing and controlling vendor performance relative to individual service orders and ongoing service levels (in the case of contract providers of services), and 3) capturing all relevant information on vendor-performed services so as to maintain a complete record of vehicle maintenance history and costs and provide for timely user billing via a charge-back system.

Repair quality assurance procedures are used to ensure that requested services are performed properly. When repairs are not completed correctly, the vehicles are often returned resulting in “comeback” repairs. One of the best strategies for avoiding comebacks is to use some form of post-repair quality assurance process. Quality checks can range from simple road-tests, to quality checklists, to the complete observation of the repair.

Fleet Vehicle Maintenance Management: In-House verses Outsourcing

Outsourcing is a process that most people view as an all or nothing process. In some cases this is true. However many fleet management and maintenance operations are very efficient at specific services, such as preventive maintenance. In such an instance an appropriate approach may be to outsource part of maintenance services such as larger repairs like transmission and engine rebuilds.

Nonetheless, the choice of outsourcing part or an entire maintenance operation is not an easy one. It oftentimes requires the review of an impartial party that understands when an operation should be outsourced, how it should be done, and the contractual pitfalls that can result in unforeseen charges and financial liability.

Fleet Warranty Replacement and Repairs

Another critical cost management area of fleet maintenance relates to warranties. Fleet maintenance managers should strengthen its practices in this area by using the functionality of their fleet maintenance software programs and or in the case of manual records keeping, a method for identifying vehicles, components, and parts that are covered by manufacturer warranty. Significant cost avoidance and recoveries can be achieved through proactive efforts in this area.

Some organizations have outsourced warranty recovery activities to private sector firms that specialize in this service. These firms often perform on a contingent fee basis and are paid by taking a percentage of the money that they recover for their clients.

Fleet Management Technology

One of the most significant changes in the fleet industry has been a veritable explosion of quantitative data. The sources of these data are multitude: fleet management information systems, fuel management systems, ERP and financial management systems, professional association databases, the Internet, GPS and AVL solutions, Web-based reporting engines, ad hoc report writers and document imaging systems.

The increased availability of data on the fleet and the fleet operations has placed significant pressure on fleet managers and staff to maintain and produce a wide array of management information for clients, financial and auditing departments, executives, elected officials, and the general public. A major challenge for fleet managers has been and will continue to be the struggle to keep these entities sufficiently informed in a timely manner.

Some of the best fleet managers in the industry have addressed this requirement by implementing proactive processes and solutions that “push” information to stakeholders on a regular schedule. “Push” technology can automatically deliver key management decision making information to e-mail accounts, printers, fax machines, pagers, PDAs and other communication devices. An increasing number of fleet management organizations are using their own Web sites as a means of distributing invoices, reservation confirmations, recall notices and the like to their customers.

Collection Vehicle Routing and Route Auditing Review

With organization collection vehicles each approaching an approximate annual operating cost of $120,000, organizations have good reason to make every daily routing as profitable and efficient as possible. It should be the goal and intention of fleet management to reduce the overall operating expenses. The key contributors to cost are fixed vehicle cost, variable vehicle cost and labor expense. To begin to understand the daily operations, one must understand each line of business. The typical collection business is divided into three major areas: commercial, residential and industrial. Each area includes municipal solid waste and recycling material, and each is very different from the others. The single largest differentiator between residential and commercial routes is the mandatory adherence to driving on one side of the street. Unlike commercial routes, residential routes are only permitted to service customers on the right side of the street.

Industrial routes introduce a different routing problem. The differentiator between industrial and commercial is the size of the container. A typical commercial container is eight loose yards, while an industrial container may range from 20 to 40 loose yards and only one container may be serviced at a time. While hauling these large containers, it is common for each container disposed of and returned to the original customer’s location. Software using GIS-based route management applications deliver reduced operational costs by 1) organizing routes to minimize overlap and thereby reduce the number of vehicles required to service customers, and 2) sequencing the stops along a route to make the best use of fuel, driver schedules, and disposal trips.

Whether routing software or manual routing is performed, the net effect of reduced routes continues to improve operational efficiency and increase cost savings for organizations but also delivers a positive impact on the environment and employees. Fewer trucks on the road result in a noticeable reduction of emissions and noise in communities. Reduced travel during busy times of the day, and less traffic for the communities in which an organization serves are also noticeable benefits. Collection routes must be planned to incorporate organizational rules such as prohibiting zigzagging and double-siding collection operations. Several routing software offer these solutions.

In addition to establishing safety procedures and guidelines for equipment, waste companies should design their routes with accident prevention in mind. Defensive routing helps reduce the potential for trucks and employees to be placed in hazardous situations. Defensive routing means that a route design minimizes backing, eliminates double siding and zigzagging, maintains a safe speed and eliminates unprotected left-hand turns through right-hand routing. Solid waste collections service providers companies also should perform route observations to ensure that employees are working safely, wearing seat belts and other PPE, and following procedures.

Fleet Maintenance Environmental Compliance

Most refuse truck maintenance shop managers comply with federal, state and local safety and environmental regulations—when they know about them. There are numerous acts, regulations and agencies that apply to truck maintenance facilities, and it’s not always easy to find out about them or to understand them. This can make compliance difficult.

In surveys, most maintenance managers indicate that staying abreast of vehicle technology is their top challenge and concern, followed by compliance with governmental regulations; however, compliance looms larger in the event of an “incident.” Shop managers need to be trained effectively on environmental compliance matters just as any other significant size facility that manages special wastes such as shop solvents, used motor oil, antifreeze and other lubricants.

Maintenance managers should implement an extensive employee training program covering areas such as hazardous materials, fire protection, personal protective equipment (PPE) and toxic sub-stances. In addition, periodic inspections of tools and machines, receiving and storage areas, building conditions, and electrical, lighting, heating and ventilation systems.

Safety Policies, Procedures and Training

A perception exists in some quarters that waste is a dangerous business, and accidents are inevitable. However, industry members cannot afford to have such a passive attitude. Every injury is preventable, and firms have access to highly effective methods and equipment to help them manage employee safety. There is nothing routine about the waste industry. Driving conditions change; employees handle different materials from one day to the next; and disposal sites vary according to content. The only constant is that there will always be waste. Practical safety solutions require diligence and creativity on the part of management, supervisors and employees. Companies should remember that, despite the fact waste companies have much in common; each deals with special factors that require tailored solutions.

Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) accidents occur far too often, and LOTO violations are the most often cited OSHA violations for the industry. (OSHA’s LOTO standard requires that a piece of equipment’s energy source be de-energized, including blocking and bleeding, before maintenance or service is performed). LOTO-related injuries are under complete human control and are preventable. Maintenance shop accidents often occur as a result of improper LOTO while repairing such equipment as front end loader top door and forks, working under suspended loads, performing brake adjustments, replacing and testing hydraulic cylinders, and repairing rear door seals.

For every vehicle it owns, a company should refer to manufacturer guidelines, establish a maintenance schedule and stick to it. Furthermore, when emergency repairs are performed, make sure they are properly completed and not rushed to get the vehicle back in operation.

Safety must be an industry-wide goal, and waste companies can achieve better success if they work together to identify effective safety solutions. One step that waste companies can take to improve their workers’ safety is to adhere to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) equipment and operational standards. In the 1970s, a group of industry representatives identified the need for a set of waste industry safety standards that would supplement the more general Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. ANSI guidelines are designed to help reduce accidents and injuries, and companies will benefit from incorporating them into their safety programs. The ANSI Z245 standards are much more useful to our industry than OSHA. The standards are specific to what we actually do. ANSI has made things more applicable and easier to understand.

Training should be the cornerstone of any waste organization’s safety program. Organizations must establish a culture in which employees know about hazards that exist in their work environment and in which they are properly equipped to handle all situations, routine and non-routine. Because waste industry workers generally are not under direct supervision, management must take the lead by providing effective training, personal protective equipment (PPE) and incentives that encourage employees to take responsibility for their own safety. Supervisors and managers should train their employees to do the following when they’re on the job:

  • Assess. When dealing with any situation, a worker should ask the following questions: What could go wrong? If something did happen, what would be the results? What can I do to avoid potential incidents?
  • Analyze. An employee should determine whether he or she is adequately trained and properly equipped to deal with the results of an accident.
  • Act. If the worker is properly prepared and equipped to perform the task, he or she should take actions necessary to ensure the job is done safely. If not, the worker should not undertake the task.

Safety starts with buy-in from your entire workforce. Employees must be able to make safety decisions and participate in the entire process.

Driver Safety, Development and Training Programs and Policies

Preventing fatalities, injuries and accidents in the solid waste industry is an ongoing struggle. Each day, tens of thousands of collection trucks run their routes, sometimes making more than 800 residential pickups. These trucks dump their loads at transfer stations, material recovery facilities, incinerators and landfills. Then waste is processed, transferred, or compacted via manual labor, sorting equipment and heavy equipment. This mix of trash, people, trucks and heavy equipment, often in close quarters, can result in safety hazards that can lead to accidents.

Despite these challenging conditions, the solid waste industry places a high emphasis on employee and community safety. Waste organizations recognize the relationship between safe operations and maintaining a productive and healthy workforce, providing a responsible presence to customers and their communities, and controlling the cost of waste services.

A waste management organization’s safety department is responsible for improving worker safety and, not coincidentally, reducing property damage, personal injury claims and workers compensation costs. However, it can be difficult for a safety director to single-handedly change an organization’s safety culture and persuade veteran workers to change their job performance.

Drivers, helpers and others are often more responsive to their direct reports or supervisors than to a high-level Safety Director whom they may rarely or never see.

Fleet Pride Programs

The solid waste collection industry has historically had problems with equipment abuse/misuse and pre-trip/post-trip inspections for years. These problems have affected organization’s operating budgets, safety, performance and job satisfaction. They have also built walls between the operations and maintenance staff and departments. One solution is a program that is waste designed to directly attack this problem and in the process reduce operating costs, improve safety and provide greater job satisfaction for drivers and technicians.

Consider this: If an organization has a $4.5 million investment in its fleet and fails to catch developing problems, it reduces the average vehicle life by only 1 percent, representing a $45,000 loss to the organization. There’s no price we can place on the value of being sure that equipment is safe when it hits the road. Most organizations have experiences that suggest that their drivers are not doing an effective job of inspecting their equipment. The program is driven by three major components:

  1. Manager training—Program success depends entirely on whether or not managers take this type of program to heart and effectively drive it. Other programs fall down if they were simply sent to the field with no further explanation or without a strong statement of support. So one of the program’s key strategy points is to be respectful of managers and provide full support—with the expectation that they will follow through.
  2. Incident awareness—This process helps each location to identify, log and analyze incidents where abuse/misuse or maintenance error were a factor. Managers are expected to demonstrate the same engagement in using this program as an ongoing tool to train staff and reduce incidents of abuse/misuse. The Incident Awareness Program creates accountability for front-line managers, technicians and drivers.
  3. Employee training—A series of training sessions begin with orientation and introduction to the new Incident Awareness process. The sessions also cover pre-trip/post-trip inspections and driving behaviors that contribute to equipment abuse/misuse.

Program objectives are:

  • Eliminate equipment abuse/misuse and improve pre/post trip inspections
  • Reduce operations and maintenance costs
  • Improve driver and equipment safety
  • Provide greater job satisfaction in operations and maintenance
  • Identify drivers and technicians likely to have accidents and provide safety/administrative intervention
  • Reduce conflict and increased collaboration between operations and maintenance regarding vehicle condition
  • Reduce operator and technician turnover costs

Establishing Best Practices

In summary, it is important for any refuse or recycling collection fleet management to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) relative to their collection fleets’ maintenance programs and general fleet management. Benchmarking and establishing best management practices, allows fleet maintenance and management to develop a baseline from which improvement goals can be established.

The following comprehensive list is a summary of the solid waste and recycling collection industry standard BMPs and general recommendations in best managing and maintaining solid waste and recycling collection fleets:

  • Best Management Practices (BMPs)
  • Industry Standards and Benchmarking Studies
  • Fleet Management Audits – Maintenance Verses Operations
  • Fleet Size and Specifications Review
  • Fleet Utilization and Efficiency Evaluation
  • Container Management
  • Parts Inventory Management
  • Collection Services Review – Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Recycling
  • Fleet Preventative Maintenance Program
  • Fleet Replacement Program
  • Fleet Financial and Accounting – Cost Allocation Management
  • Operational Safety Policies, Procedures and Records
  • Fuel Management Program & Use of Alternative Fuels
  • Fleet Management and Maintenance Training Programs & Policies
  • Driver Safety, Development and Training Programs & Policies
  • Fleet Maintenance and Management Performance Measurements
  • Vendor and Contract Performance Reviews and Programs
  • Fleet Vehicle Maintenance Management – In-House verses Outsourcing
  • Fleet Warranty Replacement & Repairs
  • Fleet Management Technology – Onboard computers, scales, GPS,
  • Collection Vehicle Routing
  • Fleet Maintenance Environmental Compliance

As is the key with implementing any new business and operating improvements, and establishing companywide goals, frontline staff, mid-level and senior management program buy-in and support is the key. Without these levels of support, critical fleet maintenance and management best management practices typically fail.

Bob Wallace, MBA, is the President for WIH Resource Group (Phoenix, AZ), a global waste management consulting firm, providing diversified services and extensive experience to clients in both the private and public sectors. Bob has more than 28 years experience in M&A due diligence & transactional support, legal expert witness services, customer satisfaction polling and surveying, financial assessments, solid waste and recycling management, transportation / logistics operations, fleet management, alternative vehicle fuel solutions (CNG, LNG, Biodiesels, EVs, etc.), WastebyRail program management, recycling/solid waste program planning and development.  Bob also has expertise in the areas of solid waste and recycling collection routing and route auditing, disposal and transportation rate and contract negotiations and strategic business planning. He has extensive experience in conducting both solid waste collections and transfer station operational performance assessments OPAs (a business improvement process) developed by WIH Resource Group.

Bob previously served as a board member for the Arizona Chapter of SWANA and has served on the National Solid Waste Rate Committee for the American Public Works Association (APWA). He is also a former board member of the California Refuse and Recycling Association’s (CRRA) Global Recycling Council (GRC).

Wallace can be reached at (480) 241-9994, via e-mail at bwallace@wihresourcegroup.com or visit www.wihrg.com

Sidebar – Fuel Management Program and Use of Alternative Fuels

Nearly 50 percent of the annual cost of operating and maintaining a typical fleet is directly attributed to fuel and fuel management. It is also an area of fleet management that has become extremely complicated, because of legislation and policies at local, state and federal government levels, global economics, vast changes in technology, increased availability of alternative fuel types, new multi-fuel enabled and hybrid vehicles and equipment, and ongoing pressures to reduce emissions. Thus, for many fleet managers, fuel management is a black box of complex issues, which require large sums of funding.

Minor improvements in a fuel management program, however, can yield significant savings in the short and long term. Some areas of consideration for review in fuel management include:

  • Alternative Fuel Program Development
  • Alternative Fuel Program Reviews
  • Bulk Fuel Site Design and Engineering
  • Commercial Fuel Program Development
  • Emission Reduction Planning
  • Fuel Management Program Development
  • Fuel Management Program Review
  • Fuel Tax Reimbursement Optimization
  • Fuel Site Consolidation Reviews
  • Fuel Site Mapping and Location Services

Container Management

Containers and carts don’t have the same safety concerns as trash trucks, compactors and balers—that is probably why the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z245 standards deserve attention. Because containers and carts often seem like innocuous pieces of equipment that couldn’t possibly have potential safety hazards, they can be taken for granted.

The 2008 revision of the container safety standard, ANSI Z245.30, outlines new designs for warning labels and safety signs. The standard calls for new three-panel signs. One panel should have a large, bold and single-word headline reading “CAUTION” in black type over a yellow background or “WARNING” in black type over an orange background. Another panel should feature a drawing demonstrating the hazard and a phrase describing the hazard, such as a drawing of a stick-figured person tumbling off of a roll-off, with a caption that reads, “FALLING HAZARD.” A third panel should include a detailed warning. For example, the panel may have a warning reading “KEEP OFF! Do not climb in, on or occupy this container for any purpose. Injury from slipping or falling may occur.”

Solid waste service providers should periodically review the requirements in ANSI Z245 safety standards with maintenance crews and collection truck operators to help protect customers, employees and trucks. Knowing which containers can safely be used in certain applications and with which refuse vehicles is something that every collection crew should understand.

How dangerous can a container or cart be? Both have caused a few serious injuries over the years, making safety standards worth developing. Two standards developed by ANSI Accredited Standards Committee Z245 address safety, performance and design compatibility requirements for carts and containers. ANSI Z245.60 sets compatibility dimensions for manufacturers so that containers can be safely used with refuse vehicles, and ANSI Z245.30 covers operational safety requirements for carts and containers. What is new in this standard is that it provides dimensional requirements for the Type S container—that is, “the front-load container with side sleeves.”

The Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC) also has released its “Recommended Practice, WRP-9-2004,” which details the recommended dimensional range of the front loader forks for compatibility with the Type S containers. If container manufacturers build the container according to the Z245.60 standard, and if truck manufacturers build trucks according to the recommended practice, the two will work together. Other new compatibility dimensions in the revised ANSI Z245.60 standard covers Type-L hook-lift containers, the standard aims to match up the lifts on trucks with the hooks on containers.

Collection organizations should look at these two standards to make sure that the forks on the trucks match the compatibility standard for the S container. If they don’t match, “damage can occur to both trucks and containers.”

Author: Bob Wallace, President – WIH Resource Group, Inc.


WIH Resource Group is global leader providing of diversified environmental (waste and recycling), financial, expert witness services, transportation / logistics consulting solutions to its Clients throughout North America and internationally.

WRG provides solutions to complex challenges to its clients in the areas of environmental, alternative fuel fleet conversion studies, customer satisfaction surveys, fleet management matters, equipment and assets valuations, mergers & acquisitions (M&A), landfill gas management, renewable energy, waste & recycling collections, business process improvement, procurement services assistance, waste management operations, recycling processing, transfer stations, operational performance assessments (OPAs), recycling facilities (MRFs) studies, transportation and other feasibility and related financial analysis.

Formed in 2005, WRG’s Team consists of subject matter experts from the waste, recycling, alternative fuels, and transportation industries from both the public and private sectors.  WRG’s Team of experts have over 150 years of combined experience.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the rest of the Team of subject matter experts at WIH Resource Group.

For more information about WIH Resource Group’s diversified client services, and how we can best serve you, visit www.wihrg.com

Contact us today to see how we can best serve you at 480.241.9994 or admin@wihrg.com

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Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

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6 Waste Industry Trends to Watch in 2018

Each day, waste industry workers perform vital functions that keep cities clean and communities healthy. Most of those functions remain fundamentally the same year-to-year: collect material, sort it, recover value and dispose of the rest.

And yet, there are shifts each year that change how the industry operates. Composting, glass recycling and the increasing use of compressed natural gas (CNG) helped shape 2016. In 2017, the conversations that moved the industry ranged from China’s ongoing policy changes to how the big companies in the industry responded to natural disasters.

In a short reader poll, we asked the Waste Dive audience to signal what trend is most likely to affect the industry in 2018. Nearly 50% of respondents said China would be the biggest story of the year, with other topics falling below 25% of the total vote.

Most readers voted for China as being the biggest story to watch in 2018.

Some of those trends will continue this year — especially when we consider how China’s policies, now coming into effect, will shift recycling markets. Other ongoing debates, like the meaning of “zero waste” and the idea of franchised collections, will undoubtedly be affected by the new Chinese policies and how the U.S. and industry organizations respond. Here are six trends that will be worth watching as 2018 kicks off.

1. The full enforcement and continued effects of China’s import policies

According to reader feedback, China’s new import policies continue to dominate the recycling conversation and will be one of the top stories to watch in 2018 — even if the country works with trade organizations to compromise, as some hope or expect. Now that the import restriction date has officially passed for the 24 banned materials, the pressure points will become even more clear. Companies and brokers have already begun looking to Southeast Asia in anticipation, and the situation at West Coast ports is shifting as a result.

Many are still just as concerned, if not more so, about the March contamination specifications. Meeting the slightly relaxed 0.5% standard without a major upgrade is still seen as nearly impossible. For those that already do single-stream, and may be having challenges finding a market for glass, the situation is additionally frustrating.

It’s possible that the tax reform windfall will free up funds to invest in new sorting equipment — including artificial intelligence — at MRFs. In the meantime, companies have also been staffing up and slowing down lines. Relying on staffing agencies to do that may have also gotten easier now that the BFI joint employer standard has been overturned and the industry hopes to reinforce that policy with legislation. How companies prioritize safety, and whether the addition of new employees coupled with slower work speeds affects injury rates, will be particularly interesting to watch.

2. The continued debate over franchising in cities across the U.S.

Uttering the words “franchise” or “zoned collection” is one of the easiest ways to strike fear in many of the industry’s smaller service providers. As consolidation continues, their ability to compete on price in an open market is one of the few guaranteed selling points they have left. Technology companies and brokers that rely on their relationships with these providers are also opposed to the concept.

Yet the industry’s largest companies have made no secret about their support for franchising — at the right price — and will have multiple opportunities to help advance it this year.

This will be the case as discussions continue from smaller cities such as Springfield, MO and St. Paul, MN to New York, and possibly Boston. Existing contracts in states such as California and Nevada can also be expected to receive ongoing attention. The Los Angeles recycLA system may be the most prominent example, spurring strong reactions from all sides. For environmental groups and franchise supporters, it’s a sign of what’s possible elsewhere. Though for detractors and real estate interests it’s already becoming a cautionary tale.

3. The continued and gradual deployment of technology in the industry

Perhaps as a sign of the year to come, the biggest company in the industry, Waste Management, hired its first chief digital officer as 2017 was coming to a close. Additionally, 2017 saw that company invest in fleet data capture and next-generation landfills. Penn Waste saw a big increase in efficiency by deploying artificial intelligence (AI) in a MRF and Lytx unveiled its newest video software.

These investments and experiments will continue into 2018 and likely beyond. While the waste industry is sometimes seen as slow to change, big players are continuing to put resources into tech to improve efficiency and safety. The gradual deployment of new tech in the industry will bring, as one leading voice said, “waves of change.” That change, in 2018, will likely look like the increasing use of electric or hybrid vehicles, increased interest in autonomous vehicles and, of course, continuing use of CNG for fueling vehicles.

These technologies and others, including the use of AI, could help improve efficiency and safety. While there were fewer fatalities in 2016 than 2017, refuse collection remains the fifth-most dangerous occupation in the country — so any improvements in safety could mean big outcomes for the industry.

4. The ongoing debate over how to define “zero waste”

As all of these more tangible trends play out, 2018 will also be a year of continued “zero waste” aspirations — and perhaps some reckoning. Nearly every major city has some type of “zero waste” or ambitious recycling diversion goal at this point. Fewer have a clear plan for how to achieve those goals or can agree on what the terminology actually means.

All supporters agree this means limiting landfill usage, but from there it has become a very adaptable concept. Some cities will be taking the European model of using waste-to-energy as an interim disposal solution. Others have shunned disposal technology of any kind — even though they still rely on it to some degree — and are holding out for a more viable circular economy solution around universally recyclable packaging.

Many packaging manufacturers have set lofty targets of their own, and found creative ways to demonstrate movement, but may not be ready to enact more meaningful changes. For many of the cities with their own goals that could also be the case. Diverting organic waste and finding ways to limit other types of traditionally unrecyclable packaging is a critical first step. Finding ways to keep that up on a consistent basis, and actually engage people enough to change their behavior will be another story.

With contamination an issue in many cities, and more harmful to the viability of scrap markets than it has been in years due to China, the “zero waste” movement could be overdue for a reality check. Progress is happening, and much more of it is possible, but all involved may need to be more honest about the systemic changes required to make that happen.

5. The industry affects of tax reform — and what that could mean for M&A

The industry has experienced rapid consolidation in recent decades. Based on what executives have been saying in earnings calls and interviews there could be much more ahead.

Now that President Trump has signed the largest corporate tax cut in recent history — without including some elements that concerned the industry in previous versions — companies will have a lot more capital on hand. Waste Connections CEO Ron Mittelstaedt has previously predicted an M&A “bonanza.” Others have been similarly bullish and the bill was a top priority for executives throughout 2017.

Whether this will lead to more high-profile deals like the recent Progressive Waste Solutions or ReCommunity acquisitions remains to be seen. Tuck-ins are already prevalent and smaller family-owned operations will continue to be popular targets.

In the short-term, this may mean national or regional companies can bring some of their more modern capabilities to small communities. That will be especially useful as collection efficiencies and recycling contamination continue to be big priorities. Communities could also see economies of scale by having access to larger networks of processing and disposal facilities. While drivers and other front-line workers remain in high demand, this consolidation could also mean lay-offs for employees in office or managerial roles.

This can all be expected to make financial analysts and shareholders very happy. Whether it will translate to the workers from acquired companies getting better pay, communities getting better service, and more material going to the highest and best use, will be key areas to watch.

6. The influence of the Environmental Protection Agency

Under Administrator Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency has offered some clarification on New Source Performance Standards for landfills and announced plans to aggressively target some Superfund sites for cleanup and remediation.

However, the agency has also been party to significant drama concerning the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). While RFS volumes are set for 2018, the political back-and forth is unlikely to come to an end. The EPA’s decision to enforce — or not to enforce — emissions standards could influence how landfills operate. The battle over the RFS could influence how biogas producers choose to invest in anaerobic digestion for food waste or other organic feedstock.

Pruitt’s commitment to getting the EPA “back to basics” and Trump’s deregulatory agenda could combine in 2018 to mean big shifts for how the waste industry is regulated at the federal level.

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WIH Resource Group is global leader providing of diversified environmental (waste and recycling), financial, expert witness services, transportation / logistics consulting solutions to its Clients throughout North America and internationally.

WRG provides solutions to complex challenges to its clients in the areas of environmental, alternative fuel fleet conversion studies, customer satisfaction surveys, fleet management matters, equipment and assets valuations, mergers & acquisitions (M&A), landfill gas management, renewable energy, waste & recycling collections, business process improvement, procurement services assistance, waste management operations, recycling processing, transfer stations, operational performance assessments (OPAs), recycling facilities (MRFs) studies, transportation and other feasibility and related financial analysis.

Formed in 2005, WRG’s Team consists of subject matter experts from the waste, recycling, alternative fuels, and transportation industries from both the public and private sectors.  WRG’s Team of experts have over 150 years of combined experience.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the rest of the Team of subject matter experts at WIH Resource Group.

For more information about WIH Resource Group’s diversified client services, and how we can best serve you, visit www.wihrg.com

Contact us today to see how we can best serve you at 480.241.9994 or admin@wihrg.com

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Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

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Top 10 Recycling Countries From Around the World

As disappointing as it is, in regards to recycling, the United States does not make the cut. At just a 34 percent success rate, the U.S. sends only 1/3 of its waste into the recycling pool—which is well below many other countries worldwide.

That stat got us thinking: What are the top recycling countries in the world? And, what traits do those successful recycling locations possess?

Austria sits with the highest recycling rate out of any country in the world: 63 percent of all waste is diverted from landfills. As recycling programs have evolved, Austria’s overall performance in terms of municipal solid waste recycling has been stable and at a very high level for the past decade, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA).

“Austria has a long tradition of diverting waste from landfills and has a long-established recycling system. Most of the MSW (municipal solid waste) generated in the country is either recycled or incinerated,” as published in the Municipal Waste Management Report released by the EEA.

Furthermore, according to the Austrian constitution, the municipal waste management responsibilities are divided between the federal and the provincial governments. In addition to a handful of federal waste ordinances, a pivotal leg of the waste legislation is the 2002 Act on waste management, which established the bar for the country’s waste management practices.

According to a report compiled by Planet Aid—an organization that unites communities to bring about worldwide environmental and social change—Germany isn’t too far behind Austria. Germany sends 62 percent of its waste through the close-loop process, keeping it from landfills. And, Taiwan is keeping pace, hitting the top margin with a 60 percent success rate of recycling.

However, in an alternative approach, the recycling effort of the Zaballeen people in Cairo, Egypt, reflects even greater success than the aforementioned locations. With a metropolitan comprised of 60,000 people, you may be surprised to discover that the word Zaballeen is Arabic for “garbage people.”

As told in the 2010 documentary, Garbage Dreams, recyclers collect the urban waste and gather income from reusing, sorting, and reselling the articles they collect. The system has no established official or contemporary recycling facilities or sanitation services, yet, 80 percent of everything that is gathered is recycled.

“The Zaballeen have created the world’s most effective resource recovery system…they are actually saving our Earth. From out of the trash, they lifted themselves out of poverty and have a solution to the world’s most pressing crisis,” said Garbage Dreams Director and Producer Mai Iskander, as reported by Tom White for the International Documentary Association.

Likewise setting the recycling bar high—though, comparatively, with an established industry—Brazil recently broke global records for its aluminum recycling.

In 2014, the country recycled 98.4 percent of consumable packaging—and has been the number one recycler of consumer packaging in the world since 2001. In 2014, that high percentage equated to 289,500 tons of aluminum beverage cans out of 294,200 tons that were available in the market.

The country’s effort was linked to the economy—which was in recession—and the high cost of energy. Aluminum recycling requires less energy than producing new aluminum, so the cost-effective model created a natural incentive for the community.

Following Austria, Germany and Taiwan on Planet Aid’s list: another top recycling country is Singapore, sending 59 percent of its trash to be reused and recycled. Next up: South Korea recycles 49 percent of tossed goods. The United Kingdom hits the 39 percent mark with that percentage going into recycling. Lastly, closing out our top ten are Italy – recycling 36 percent of its trash – and France following closely behind with 35 percent.

The aforementioned locations are the top ten recycling countries in the world for varying reasons with their own unique approaches to the processes. As it seems, in order to implement a high success rate for a nationwide recycling program, the community requires one or all of these qualities: organization—be it through legislation, industry, or entrepreneurs—incentive: a personal motive or financial necessity, and cultural habit-building practices.

To learn more about how WIH Resource Group can assist you in recycling, waste management, transportation and business improvement processes, contact us:  WIH Resource Group, Inc

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For more information, Visit our website by CLICKING HERE and contact us today to see how we can best serve you by phone at 480.241.9994 or by e-mail at admin@wihrg.com

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Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

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More information on WIH Resource Group and its services can be found at www.wihrg.com.

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5 Ways Business Improvement Process (BIP) Services Can Help Your Business

“Business Improvement Process services can help your company streamline operations and increase its bottom line.  In a highly functional business, everyone – from the janitor to the CEO – work towards common goals.”  – Bob Wallace, President – WIH Resource Group

The purpose of a business improvement process (BIP) strategy is to evaluate and develop processes within a business that boost productivity and maximize profits. Many small to medium-sized businesses often regard them as an unnecessary expense, reserved only for the big corporations; however, every company—regardless of size or turnover—could benefit from making a formal assessment of their operations every once in a while.

If you’re thinking about investing in a process improvement strategy, but aren’t sure whether or not you can afford it, the following benefits may sway you in the right direction.

1 – Identifies Common Problem Areas

No business is perfect. Even Apple, the most valuable brand in the world, could make improvements. Having said that, there’s a reason why they’re at the top of their game: because they’re constantly refining their business model. Tech giants like Apple, Tesla and Microsoft spend phenomenal amounts of money on identifying and rectifying problems in order to streamline their operation. While the costs may seem great, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a cure.

2 – Improves the Customer Experience

Contrary to popular belief the customer is not always right; however, they always think they’re right. Improving customer experience starts by studying their wants and needs, and then delivering a competitive advantage. Behind every genuine complaint is a broken business process. While polite customer service staff can help, they aren’t always a solution. Sometimes you need to look deeper in order to improve your company’s front-of-house.

3 – Reduces Response Time

When people pay for goods or services they not only expect to get their money’s worth, but also a delivery in a timely fashion. A satisfied customer will come back to you again and again. In fact, most businesses generate around 80 percent of their revenue from repeat business. If you aren’t seeing similar results, something could be wrong. By removing non-value-added tasks and re-structuring your organization, you could dramatically reduce response times without hindering quality. This will give you a major advantage over your competitors.

4 – Improves Asset Productivity

Assets are acquired for one reason only: to produce profits. Whether it’s staff, equipment, facilities, technology or any other form of intellectual property, few managers will measure how well these assets are performing. Process improvement methods for businesses will help you quantify this data in layman’s terms, showcasing what’s working, and most importantly, what’s not working. This information can then be used to implement beneficial changes.

5 – Drives Everyone Towards Common Goals

It’s surprising how many businesses start trading without knowing what they’re actually working towards. In a highly functional business, everybody – from the janitor to the CEO – will work towards common goals. You must define your mission statement in order to succeed. Part of process improvement is about identifying goals and ensuring everybody works towards them,.

At the very heart of it, good business isn’t just about profit margins, it’s also about providing a safe, secure and happy environment for your staff. If you’re eager to make improvements that work for everybody, devising a process improvement strategy could be the fastest and most effective way of generating results.

CLICK HERE to check out WIH Resource Group’s Operational Performance Assessment (OPA) Services to help improve your business operations and financials.

Source: WIH Resource Group

WIH Resource Group’s team of expert witness litigation support professionals have a track record of success. Whether you’re facing a valuation dispute, damage assessment, contract claim, employee matter, safety incident, personal injury, landfill gas issue, or other pending legal action, our experts are ready to assist you.

For more information, visit our website by CLICKING HERE and contact us today to see how we can best serve you by phone at 480.241.9994 or by e-mail at admin@wihrg.com

Visit our new website!   www.wihresourcegroup.com



Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

WIH Website logo

More information on WIH Resource Group and its services can be found at www.wihrg.com.

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WIH Resource Group Launches New Dynamic Website

Phoenix, AZ — March 28, 2016—WIH Resource Group, Inc. (http://wihrg.com/) has kick-started its 2016 marketing campaign with a new, vibrant, and fully revamped and informative website.   “We’ve worked hard to deliver a website that can inform and inspire across our diverse client base and we are delighted with the results. We hope it answers a lot of the questions that we are commonly asked, and goes a long way to demonstrating the firm’s capabilities, expertise and experience” said Bob Wallace, President and Founder of WIH Resource Group.


WIH Resource Group was founded in 2005 and is renowned for its exemplary service and industry individuality. Wallace explains, “We are a professional, innovative organization that focuses on giving our clients a high-quality, personalized customer experience and we want that level of care to remain synonymous with the WIH Resource Group name.”

“Our broad range of services allows us to offer our clients a full service package. We wanted a new website that reflects our professionalism, specifies our accreditations, introduces our exceptional team and gives some insight to our current clients, our meaningful partners, and our diverse areas of expertise. We’ve more than met that in the new website, which sums up the WIH Resource Group ethos perfectly.” said Wallace.  It also features downloadable Industry White Papers http://www.wihrg.com/onlinestore.html

About WIH Resource Group

WIH Resource Group is an American based leading global independent provider of environmental, waste management, recycling, transportation, financial and logistical solutions.  The company also provides its clients with strategic consulting solutions in alternative vehicle fuels, fleet management, operations, M&A transactional support, surveying and polling, collection vehicle route auditing, expert witness and transportation matters for corporations, federal, state, and local government clients.

WIH looks to establish long term relationships with their clients where they are called upon regularly to assist in developing viable and sustainable solutions.

For additional information, visit the new website http://wihrg.com/

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List of Top Waste Management Twitter Users


Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

More information on WIH Resource Group and its services can be found at www.wihrg.com.

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10 Shocking Facts About Your Garbage

It’s easy not to think about garbage. You throw away your empty cartons, bags, and cups, and once a week the trash collector comes and takes it all away. Out of sight, out of mind… except that it’s not really gone.

Most US garbage is simply relocated from your garbage can to a landfill or incinerator, both of which are fraught with problems:

  • Incinerators: Emit toxic dioxins, mercury, cadmium, and other particulate matter into the air, and convert waste into toxic ash (which is sometimes used to cover landfills).
  • Landfills: There are more than 3,000 active landfills, and 10,000-old landfills, in the US.1 While the number of landfills in the US has been decreasing in recent decades, they have, individually, been increasing in size.


Along with being a major source of methane emissions, landfills produce “leachate,” a toxic fluid composed of pollutants like benzene, pesticides, heavy metals, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and more, which come from the compressed trash.

Although landfills are technically supposed to keep garbage dry and are lined to prevent leachate from contaminating nearby soil and groundwater, the landfill liners are virtually guaranteed to degrade, tear, or crack eventually, allowing the toxins to escape directly into the environment.

10 Shocking Facts About Your Garbage

MSN compiled 10 facts about garbage that are likely to surprise you.2 You may never look at your trash the same way again…

  1. More Than 100 Tons of Waste for Every American: The average American throws away more than 7 pounds of garbage a day. That’s 102 tons in a lifetime, more than any other populations on Earth.
  2. Bottled Water Is the “Grandfather of Wasteful Industries. Edward Humes, author of the book “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash,” counts bottled water among the most wasteful of industries. In the US, Americans toss 60 million water bottles daily, which is nearly 700 each minute.
  3. Food Waste Is a Problem Too: Americans throw away 28 billion pounds of food a year, which is about 25 percent of the US food supply.
  4. Disposables Are a Drain: Ten percent of the world’s oil supply is used to make and ship disposable plastics – items like plastic utensils, plates, and cups that are used just one time and thrown away.
  5. Trash Is Expensive: Most communities spend more to deal with trash than they spend for schoolbooks, fire protection, libraries, and parks.
  6. Carpet Waste Alone Is Astounding: Americans throw away 5.7 million tons of carpet every year.
  7. Paper Waste Is a Shame: Americans waste 4.5 million tons of office paper a year. Ask yourself… do I really need to print that?
  8. Opting Out of Junk Mail Makes a Difference: According to Humes, the energy used to create and distribute junk mail in the US for one day could heat 250,000 homes. You can opt-out of junk mail by going to CatalogChoice.org.
  9. Too Many Toys: Only 4 percent of the world’s children live in the US, but Americans buy (and throw away) 40 percent of the world’s toys. Buy less toys, opt for second-hand versions, and pass down the toys you do purchase to others.
  10. Plastic Bags: On average, Americans use 500 plastic bags per capita each year. Such bags make up the second most common type of garbage found on beaches. Stash reusable shopping bags in your purse or car so you’re not tempted by plastic or paper.

Bottled Water: One of the Worst Offenders

US landfills contain about 2 million tons of discarded water bottles, each of which will take more than 1,000 years to biodegrade. Recycling is only possible for a small number of these bottles, because only PET bottles are recyclable. In all, only one out of five plastic bottles ever make it to a recycling bin.3

You might think re-using the bottle is an option, but commercial water bottles tend to wear down from repeated use, which can lead to bacterial growth in surface cracks inside the bottle. This risk is compounded if you fail to adequately wash the bottle between each use, using mild soap and warm water.

But even with washing, these microscopic hiding places may still allow pathogenic bacteria to linger. Perhaps more importantly, the plastic chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates lurk in plastic water bottles and can pose serious health hazards, especially to pregnant women and children.

Fortunately, the use of bottled water is one of the easiest habits to change. Simply put a filter on your tap and use a reusable glass water bottle to carry with you.

Why You Should Consider Ditching Plastic Bags

Plastic bags are so wasteful and polluting to the environment that many US cities have already banned them outright. For a succinct and entertaining introduction to the waste that is the plastic bag, I highly recommend the film “Bag It.”4

It is a truly eye-opening look to the vastness of the problem, and the immense waste that could be spared if more Americans toted a reusable bag with them to the grocery store. As their website reported:5

“In the United States alone, an estimated 12 million barrels of oil is used annually to make the plastic bags that Americans consume. The United States International Trade Commission reported that 102 billion plastic bags were used in the US in 2009.

These bags, even when properly disposed of, are easily windblown and often wind up in waterways or on the landscape, becoming eyesores and degrading soil and water quality as they break down into toxic bits.”

On a worldwide scale, each year about 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide. At over 1 million bags per minute, that’s a lot of plastic bags, of which billions end up as litter each year, contaminating oceans and other waterways.

Food Waste Is a Serious Issue

You might not think throwing a banana peel or apple core in your trash is a big deal, but organic waste is actually the second highest component of landfills in the US. Organic landfill waste has increased by 50 percent per capita since 1974, as illustrated in this infographic.6

One solution to this problem is to cut down on the amount of food you waste by planning your meals carefully (and shopping according), vacuum packing produce to help it last longer, eating leftovers and knowing when food is still safe to eat (versus when it’s actually spoiled).

Composting Can Help Reduce Organic Waste in Landfills

Another solution lies in creating a backyard compost pile. Composting food scraps recycles their nutrients and can reduce their ecological impact. It benefits soil, plants, and the greater environment, and it’s not as difficult as you might think. Compost can be created with yard trimmings and vegetable food waste, manure from grazing animals, egg shells, brown paper bags, and more.

This can be done on an individual or community-wide level. For instance, in California, The Sonoma County Waste Management Agency operates a regional compost program in which they accept yard trimmings and vegetative food discards that are placed in curbside containers by local residents.

The organic material is then converted into premium quality organic compost and mulches, along with recycled lumber, firewood, and biofuel used to generate electricity. Since 1993, 1.6 million tons of yard and wood debris have been converted into these beneficial products.

Sonoma Compost, which operates the Organic Recycling Program on behalf of the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency, estimates that nearly 1.5 million tons of yard and wood trimmings have been diverted from landfills since 1993 as a result of the program.7

The Consequences of Living in a ‘Throwaway’ Society

Your parents and grandparents likely used products in reusable, recyclable, or degradable containers made from glass, metals, and paper. But today, discarded plastics and other waste are circling the globe at a significant human and environmental cost. It’s a problem of convenience – choosing a plastic disposable water bottle instead of using a reusable glass container, for instance – as well as one of overconsumption.

Even durable items like electronics, toys, and clothes are often regarded as “throwaway” products that we use for a short period and quickly replace – often without recycling, donating, or re-using them for another purpose.

Of course, you are living in a society that makes you feel behind if you do not buy the latest model of this or that, or update your wardrobe with the latest fashions. We’re also increasingly living on the go, where food in throwaway packages is by far the rule rather than the exception.

Contrast that to a couple of generations ago when frugality and resourcefulness were highly valued, and food came fresh from the farm, butcher shop, or baker, and you begin to see where the real problems with excess waste are springing from. The sheer amount of waste that is generated needlessly on any given day is quite mind-boggling. For instance, according to the Clean Air Council:8

  • The average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups every year.
  • Every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times.
  • The estimated 2.6 billion holiday cards sold each year in the US could fill a football field 10 stories high.
  • Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, an extra million tons of waste is generated each week.
  • 38,000 miles of ribbon are thrown away each year, enough to tie a bow around the Earth.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!

You’ve probably heard of The Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Committing this into practice in your home can significantly reduce the amount of waste your family generates while also saving you money. You can do your part by taking the following action steps that reduce your plastic consumption and generation of waste, which will benefit your health as well as the environment.

Reduce your plastic use: If at all possible seek to purchase products that are not made from or packaged in plastic. Here are a few ideas… Use reusable shopping bags for groceries. Bring your own mug for coffee and bring drinking water from home in glass water bottles instead of buying bottled water. Store foods in the freezer in glass mason jars as opposed to plastic bags. Take your own leftovers container to restaurants. Request no plastic wrap on your newspaper and dry cleaning. Avoid disposable utensils and buy foods in bulk when you can. These are just a few ideas — I’m sure you can think of more. Recycle/Repurpose what you can: Take care to recycle and repurpose products whenever possible, especially ones that are not available in anything other than plastic. This includes giving your clothes or gently used household items to charities and frequenting second-hand stores instead of buying new. Make use of online sites like Freecycle.org that allow you to give products you no longer need away to others instead of throwing them away. Choose reusable over single-use: This includes non-disposable razors, washable feminine hygiene products for women, cloth diapers, glass bottles for your milk, cloth grocery bags, handkerchiefs instead of paper tissues, an old t-shirt or rags in lieu of paper towels, and so on.
Compost your food scraps and yard waste: A simple bin in your backyard can greatly cut down on your landfill contributions while rewarding you with a natural fertilizer for your soil. Support legislation: Support legislative efforts to manage waste in your community; take a leadership role with your company, school, and neighborhood. Be innovative: If you have a great idea, share it! Your capacity to come up with smarter designs and creative ideas is limitless and many heads are better than one. Innovations move us toward a more sustainable world.
Assist recovery: Return deposits on bottles and other plastic products, and participate in “plastic drives” for local schools, where cash is paid by the pound.

Bob Wallace, MBA is the Founder and a Principal of WIH Resource Group, Inc. and has over 27 years of experience in waste and recycling collections programs management, transportation / logistics operations, alternative fuels (CNG, LPG, RNG, LNG & biodiesel), Fleet Management, Operational Performance Assessments (OPAs), Waste-by-Rail programs, recycling / solid waste operations, transfer stations, landfills, planning and development. Mr. Wallace has extensive experience in working with clients in both the private and public sectors. Prior to WIH Resource Group, Mr. Wallace served as the Director of Transportation & Logistics for Waste Management, the largest provider of waste management and recycling services in North America. He can be reached at bwallace@wihresourcegroup.com or 480.241.9994. For more information visit http://www.wihrg.com

Published by: WIH Resource Group, Inc.

For More Information, visit WIH Resource Group’s You Tube by Clicking HERE

SOURCE: WIH Resource Group & Mercola.com and MSN.com

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Contact WIH Resource Group
For more information, Visit our website by CLICKING HERE and contact us today to see how we can best serve you by phone at 480.241.9994 or by e-mail at admin@wihrg.com

WIH Resource Group’s Diversified Client-Specific Services include:

  • Waste Management Consulting
  • Recycling Programs Optimization
  • Alternative Fuels for Truck Fleets
  • Research & Polling – Customer Satisfaction Surveys
  • Landfill Operations Consulting
  • Business and Assets Appraisals & Valuations
  • Collection, Processing, Transfer & Disposal Procurement
  • M&A Due Diligence
  • Waste to Energy & New Technology Evaluation Environmental Services
  • Expert Testimony/Litigation Support
  • Facility Planning & Design
  • Finance and Economic Analysis
  • Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures
  • Operations & Performance Assessment (OPAs)
  • Planning – Solid Waste, Recycling and Program
  • Program Management & Capital Project Planning
  • Rates, Financial Analyses & Appraisals
  • Rates and Regulatory Support
  • Recycling Program Design
  • Renewables / Clean Energy Technology

Click here to request more information about these services & WIH Resource Group

RELATED LINKS: http://www.wihrg.com

Clean Green Renewable Energy

WIH Resource Group is a global leader and provider of comprehensive waste management consulting, recycling, transportation / logistical and business solutions, specializing in, among other services, waste management operational performance assessments, financial analysis. transportation / logistics, alternative fuel solutions, solid waste planning, waste and recycling market studies, business development, business valuations, due diligence and Mergers and Acquistions (M&A) transactional support and environmental services.

WIH Resource Group’s experience includes the oversight of operations, maintenance, finance, human resources, business development, sales, safety and environmental compliance while maintaining responsibility for multi-million dollar publicly and privately held assets including: a variety of collection operations, Sub-title D and hazardous and Class II landfills, transfer stations, intermodal facilities, recycling centers, buyback centers, material recovery facilities, vehicle and container maintenance operations, call centers and payment processing operations.

Based in Phoenix, Arizona, the company serves both private companies and public sector Agency clients throughout North America and internationally.  To learn more about WIH Resource Group, Inc. visit http://www.wihrg.com .

For Additional information on WIH Resource Group, Inc. contact:
Bob Wallace, Principal & VP of Client Solutions
WIH Resource Group – Waste Management, Recycling and Logistical Solutions
Email: admin@wihrg.com Phone: 480-241-9994

Website: http://www.wihrg.com
Daily News Blog: http://www.wihresourcegroup.wordpress.com
Follow WIH Resource Group on Twitter: http://twitter.com/wihresource

WIH Resource Group’s White Paper on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Fuel Use in Refuse Collection Vehicles Industry is Available for Purchasing:   The entire 65-plus page report and Appendices: $299.00 US Funds – Visa and Mastercard Accepted.

CLICK HERE to Order Your Copy today!

Phone: 480.241.9994 ~ E-mail: admin@wihrg.com

Should you have any questions about this news or general questions about our diversified services, please contact Bob Wallace, Principal & VP of Client Solutions at WIH Resource Group and Waste Savings, Inc. at admin@wihrg.com

Feel free to visit our websites for additional information on our services at: http://www.wihrg.com and our daily blog at https://wihresourcegroup.wordpress.com

Follow Bob Wallace and WIH Resource Group on Twitter: http://twitter.com/wihresource

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About Invigorated Solutions

Passionate about life, learning, love and sharing their experiences of life, Bob & Tracy Wallace enjoy sharing their invigorated (energizing) solutions / advice and useful life tips for living life to the fullest on their popular life development blog, “Invigorated Solutions”.  Click HERE to visit our website for more valuable information.

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