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How the Pandemic Impacts the Business of Garbage

COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives profoundly.  From our work lives to our social lives to our economic well-being, things are far different than we would have foreseen a year ago.  And for many Americans, it is about to affect our lives yet again in a way we may never have considered—how much we pay for our garbage service.

In normal times, waste hauling companies make most of their money with commercial accounts. Hauling trash from businesses and industrial sites make up the bulk of their income streams. Residential services, conversely, have little or no profit built in. The business clients essentially subsidize the residential users.  (Read more in this TIME interview with Waste Management CEO Jim Fish.)

Residential Waste Increases

COVID has changed how and where we work and shop; it has also changed where and how we generate garbage. There was a 25% increase in the amount of residential waste produced when the stay-at-home orders were at their peak. As COVID numbers increase, we may see these percentage increases again before the pandemic is over.  Meanwhile, commercial waste—especially at stadiums, concert venues, and other places for large gatherings—has decreased dramatically.  This has slashed profits for the waste hauling companies. 

Not only the amount, but also the kind, of residential garbage has changed with COVID.  Online shopping in the US is up over 30 percent over the same period last year, due largely to the pandemic.  With this increased online shopping comes increased packaging in the residential waste stream, especially in the form of cardboard. Waste Management has seen a 15 to 20% increase of cardboard in the residential waste stream the past few years, and with Covid it has increased more along with more bottles and cans. But they say that “overall recycling volumes are down 4% to 5% on the year when looking at residential and commercial volumes.”

So much additional packaging in the residential waste stream increases waste management costs at multifamily dwellings. The higher volume requires more frequent hauling to prevent overflowing garbage and recycling bins. There are other added costs, such as trash room maintenance and the cost of related problems like clearing out clogged trash chutes when residents don’t break down their cardboard or stuff too-large pieces down the chute. The garbage companies are having to adjust their services to accommodate these changes in waste content while dealing with the drastic decreases in profitable clients at the same time.

Residential Waste Management Fees are Going Up

It is only a matter of time before the waste management companies will be forced to increase fees significantly to avoid shortfalls.  This will put intense pressure on direct residential customers and municipality-run services alike, all at a time when personal and municipal budgets are already squeezed by the pandemic. 

Luckily, the solution to these problems already exists.  It is at such times that a third-party waste diversion manager, such as WasteXperts, can relieve the burden and the costs for their customers.

Waste Diversion Experts Save Money 

WasteXperts specializes in sorting recyclables and trash before the waste hauling company gets involved.  They remove and sort the recyclable materials in advance.  They know how to deal with fluctuations in residential waste management needs because they deal with these issues every day.  Is increased cardboard volume leading to clogged the trash chutes in your apartment complex?  WasteXperts has the solution.  Has your apartment complex’s trash volume increased dramatically in the last few months with everyone staying at home?  WasteXperts knows how to handle this smoothly and seamlessly.  And because WasteXperts is on the case, the waste haulers will not feel the full effects of the increased waste stream, so their fee increases will be lower. 

In fact, with third-party waste diversion experts such as WasteXperts involved, many multifamily residential complexes waste management fees can decrease, even if the haulers are forced to increase their own fees.  In the State of California, apartment complexes are fined if they do not achieve a certain level of recycling.  WasteXperts knows how to maximize recycling, avoiding these fines and decreasing the amount of trash that needs to be hauled.  No fines and lower trash fees result. 

The pandemic has been hard on all of us.  Let’s not add even more of a burden by paying for increased trash hauling fees.  WasteXperts can relieve that burden, and let us focus on the things that matter – staying healthy, and looking forward to a time when life gets back to normal.

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