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checkMaximize waste equipment utilization and hauling efficiencies.

All PIM content was independently developed and reviewed to be vendor-, product-, and service provider-neutral.


Evaluate waste container utilization and hauling efficiencies to maximize loads, reduce costs, and reduce environmental impacts of transportation.  This is a very simple way to reduce costs with no impact on operations or service.

  • Project Talking Points

    • Pull or haul charges can be significant and can range from $90 to $180 per pull.  Hauling half empty containers means you are spending twice as much as you need to.   
    • Vendors often pass on fuel surcharges to the customer.  Reducing pickups and transportation miles will simply reduce these costs.
    • Compactors and containers come in different sizes.  You might be able to increase the size of your container, resulting in fewer pulls per week, often without a change in pull fees. 
    • A governmental and CA EPA report from April 2012, concluded that diesel exhaust poses a major risk to humans because it contains more than 40 compounds linked to cancer.  EPA’s Smartway is dedicated to helping reduce transportation related environmental impacts.  
    • The objective is to maximize container efficiencies, minimize the number of pulls and ensure waste collection operations are unaffected (no backups).   
    • Maximizing equipment utilization efficiency can yield significant financial savings with minimal or no labor and financial investment.
    • Utilize the knowledge, resources and tools of waste vendors. They are typically supportive in identifying and increasing efficiency in this area.
  • Triple Bottom Line Benefits

    • Cost benefits: Provides potentially significant opportunities to reduce waste costs associated with hauling with no financial or labor inputs.
    • Environmental Benefit: Reducing transportation miles reduces associated energy use and air emissions.
    • Health and safety benefits: Ensures labor resources are utilized efficiently for both vendor and hospital.
    • Quality and outcomes - Metrics are in development. If you have suggestions, please  contact us or participate in the discussion below.

  • Purchasing Considerations

    If you have suggestions for purchasing considerations, or suggested sample contract language for any product or contracted service, please participate in the discussion below.

  • How-To

    1. Identify representative from Environmental Services and/or Facilites to lead this initiative. The hospital representative should partner with the waste stream vendors.
    2. Inventory all outside waste containers: compactors, open tops and dumpsters, noting location, size and condition.
    3. Understand the maximum capacity of each container by asking your waste hauler.
    4. Gather 6 months of invoices to analyze the weights of each haul, container utilization and the average cost per haul.  Leverage waste vendors to help in the gathering and analysis of this data.
    5. Use the Roadmap’s “Equipment Utilization Right-Sizing Tool” to help you identify the potential costs savings simply by changing the size of the container and/or changing the container pull schedules.
    6.  Identify opportunities to reduce pulls, increase container utilization and achieve cost savings.
    7. Develop a strategy with your waste hauler to implement identified opportunities. Common strategies include:
      • Changing from a scheduled to on-call pickup. However, this does require someone at the hospital be accountable for monitoring the fullness of the container. With compactors, this can be monitored by installing a near-full light system.
      • Installing compactor monitor systems*, where applicable.
      • Obtaining the right waste hauling equipment for the right waste stream.  E.g., if you are using an open top for cardboard you are hauling air. Consider using a compactor or bailer to densify cardboard for transportation.
      • Schedule regular maintenance for waste collecting and compacting equipment. If you are using a compactor, has the compactor been checked lately?  Is the ram getting maximum compaction?  If not, you could be hauling containers that are not at their capacity.
    8. *Compactor monitoring systems come in different types and models.  For example:
      • Simple pressure gauges measure the pressure against the ram.  This system only works if you are monitoring it.  For example, you can consider writing down the weight of the compactor when it’s pulled, and the reading the gauge at this time.  The hospitals knows when the gauge needs preventative maintenance (PM) by the amount of material it can pack into the box.
      • Remote monitoring of compactors is another good option.  Essentially, when the compactor is “near full”, your hauler will get a message to pick-up.  Work with your hauler to see if this makes sense for you and ensure the risk of trash back-up is minimized.
    9. Partner with waste stream vendors to develop a monthly reporting system that breaks down all waste stream costs, pull efficiencies, etc. and illustrates improvement opportunities.
    10. Track improvements and cost savings.   Remember to report on the success in your annual sustainability report. 
    11. This above approach is typically utilized within the solid waste and recycling streams. However, container fullness and utilization efficiencies also exist within HIPPA paper management, RMW, sharps, and pharmaceutical waste. In these waste streams ensure inside containers are full and packaged in a way that maximizes container space (specifically pharmaceutical waste).
  • Tools

    • Equipment utilization right-sizing tool. This Roadmap tool allows you to use different sized containers and different weights to help you maximize your options.

    If you have an ROI tool, calculator, or similar resources to share, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.

  • Regulations, Codes and Standards, Policies

    • Check local and state highway weight restrictions. An efficient 38-yard compactor might exceed local restrictions.
    • Check state/local codes to make sure you’re not exceeding waste storage time limitations.
    • Check with your state or regional idling laws and organization’s Idling Policy.  While this is not “idling” per se, it is consistent with the intent of idling policies to reduce harmful emissions. 
  • Cross References: LEED

  • Cross References: GGHC


  • Education Resources

    If you have any information or resources to contribute, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.

  • More Resources

    • Wastecare - Overview of Compactors
    • Search “compactor monitoring systems” online for links to related products/services.  There are too many to list here but the search is easy.
    • Transportation Impacts – Life-Cycle Analysis for Heavy Vehicles.  Paper presented at the AWMA meeting by the Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies, US Department of Energy.  
    • Diesel is Deadly, Study Says.  April 2012
  • PIM Descriptors


    Level: Beginner

    Category List:

    • C&D
    • Composting
    • Equipment
    • Recycling
    • Regulated Medical Waste
    • Strategic Operations

    PIM Attributes:

    • Infrastructure/Equipment
    • Measurement and Reporting
    • Optimize Operations
    • Repair or Optimize Existing Systems (fix what you have)
    • Waste Reduction

    Improvement Type:

    • Operations
    • Recycling
    • Waste Minimization


    • Environmental Services
  • Interested in underwriting this PIM? Contact us to find out how!


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