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How do I choose a waste collection provider for my business?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to collection service for businesses and organizations. Choosing a company to assist you in your waste collection is an important decision and a little work up front could save you money and hassle in the long term.

There are a lot of considerations when choosing a hauler for your garbage, recycling and compost.

Some haulers only collect a single service or specialize in certain container types, while others offer multiple types of collection, handle special waste materials and offer a multitude of other services.

Some haulers also offer additional services, like recycling and compost support through education, signage, and more.

Tips for selecting a hauler

What size and how many bins do you need?
Take account of how much space is needed to accommodate the containers and factor in the space needed for haulers to safely collect the bins during pick-up. If you’re not sure how much service you need, a waste audit can help.

How often do the bins need to be emptied?
Schedule pick-ups at a duration that is consistent with the amount of waste and recycling your business produces. It’s possible to arrange for “on-call” service if your business produces very little, or an inconsistent amount of material. If you switch the frequency of your hauler’s pickups, you could save serious money. If your bins are only half full when they are emptied, switching from twice a week waste service to once a week could mean bottom line savings.

Do you need a compactor?
These are best for larger waste producers, as it is a means of compacting waste or recycling to save space and/or decrease the frequency of pick-ups, which can save on hauling costs. If you’re considering a compactor for your business, take into account that compactors are usually much larger than a regular bin, and can have higher operational costs, so determine if the return on investment is worth it for your business.

Think about the pros and cons of your current hauler
What do you like about your current service and what could be improved? Get feedback from the people who use the programs every day, including employees in different departments, or the custodial company.

Do you have special materials that might be hard to dispose of?
Find out what these might be and how they are currently being handled. For example, if you produce household hazardous waste, this material should be handled differently and taken to a facility that can dispose of it properly.

Is there any way to reduce the amount of material your business generates before changing services?
Find ways to reduce overall waste production, like installing hand dryers in washrooms to eliminate paper towels buying reusable dishes in the office kitchen, or implementing a duplex printing policy. If reducing isn’t an option, find ways to reuse materials, like using waste paper as scratch paper, or having swap events for office supplies. If there is no other option, recycle and compost everything that you can.

Ask questions before you sign a contract, like:

  • Will you provide a contract? May I see a sample? How long are your contracts?
  • How will I be invoiced? Is it itemized so I can see what I’m paying for?
  • Will you adjust the sizes, quantities, or frequency of collection containers if needed? Are there costs associated with these changes?

Be aware of certain contract language before signing anything
Contract language like the examples below could cost your business more, or make it more difficult to terminate a contact.

  • Fuel surcharge – built-in clause to manage the varying cost of fuel.
  • Environmental fees – cost related to environmental compliance, including collection, transfer, landfills, and/or recycling or composting facilities.
  • Administration fees – billing, account maintenance or other administration costs.
  • Bin delivery fees – cost to set-up the new service or fees when making changes to bins.
  • Right of first refusal – a requirement to offer the company subsequent work before it is offered to a third party. Various conditions may apply.
  • Special fees – special fees for changing container sizes, extra collections, roll out fees, locking fees, cleaning containers, etc.
  • Evergreen clause – automatic contract renewal.

Explore your options before committing to a collection company. In fact, some companies offer pricing to incentivize recycling and composting more.

“Explore your options before committing to a collection company. In fact, some companies offer pricing to incentivize recycling and composting more. In many cases, your existing hauler(s) might be able to offer additional services or adjust your service levels, so check with them before switching to a new hauler,” says Jessica Nusse, a City waste diversion specialist.

Finding the right hauler can be time-consuming. But, it can make a big difference in the design and implementation of a successful waste diversion program that is simple, easy and adds value to your bottom line.

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Choosing a waste collection provider

The City’s Waste and Recycling Bylaw created flexibility and choice so you can work with The City and/or private waste diversion companies to tailor a program to best meet your needs.

If you're not sure where to start with searching for a hauler, Green Calgary​ maintains a directory of collection companies that provide recycling and compost service.

Before you choose, consider the following tips on size, frequency, compacting, special materials and more.

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