Running a food waste collection business in a tough economy

By: Ben Parry, CEO

Food waste collection is not an easy business, and it’s even tougher amidst a pandemic, tight labor market, and a shaky supply chain.  The economic disruptions during the past couple years, from COVID to the Suez Canal debacle, ripple through businesses in ways you may not expect.  

Certainly COVID has impacted our business in a number of ways.  Early on in the pandemic, we suspended bin wipe-downs for our residential customers to prevent the spread of the virus to our drivers.  Moving forward our drivers will remove excess liquid from residential bins, but we plan to continue this policy of avoiding full bin wipe-downs.  We believe that keeping bins spotless should be a shared responsibility with our customers.  Asking drivers to complete full wipe downs while collecting 150+ bins per day is a recipe for burnout, which can lead to drivers being on the road longer than our safety policies allow and employee turnover.

For an easy 3 step bin-wiping walk-through, check out this video! 

 Video soundtrack courtesy of bensound.com 

In this tight labor market, employee turnover is a bigger challenge than usual. Lately, we have received only a handful of applicants for positions that used to attract dozens.  This lack of qualified applicants makes it harder to keep up with growth while impacting quality of service and productivity.  Many parents and students are feeling the effects of the tight labor market in other ways, such as the shortage of school bus drivers; my 5th and 3rd graders arrived home 45 minutes late last Friday!  We’re hoping this tight labor market is part of a short economic cycle, but if it continues much longer it could become a crisis for many businesses and organizations.

Supply chain disruptions have also impacted our business in a number of ways, and I’ve talked with numerous other small business owners who are experiencing similar disruptions.  We’ve had to scramble to find alternate, more expensive, suppliers for collection bins and dumpsters.  Trucks have been off the road for weeks at a time because replacement parts are on backorder with no timetable for delivery.  Acquiring a new truck takes months due to a chassis shortage, reportedly caused by a shortage of computer chips, so keeping up with increased demand is challenging.  

Our team is continuing to work hard to provide best-in-class service despite these disruptions, and we’re grateful for our patient and loyal customers, who make our jobs worthwhile!  If you experience service issues, please continue to communicate these issues to us so we can solve the problem while continuing to improve our operations.