Retailers Don’t Have to Go at it Alone When it Comes to Waste Management

by | Jun 24, 2019

Have you ever shared a taxi—or, now in 2019—a Lyft with a group of friends? At the end of the trip, you split the cost of the journey in equal parts and off you went. Conversely, have you ever taken a similar trip —but alone? Once you arrived at the destination, the price tag was your responsibility and yours alone. Ouch.

Similarly, retailers often go it alone when it comes to retail waste management. Not unexpectantly, those that do realize results comparable to the lonely Lyft rider: higher expenses.

Now imagine a better way. What if, similar to ride-sharing services, there were cost-sharing capabilities when it came to retail waste pickup? What if your fellow “riders” included other retailers who would share the monetary burden of retail waste pickup? Furthermore, what if your waste hauler—like a cost-conscience Lyft driver—had your best interests in mind, and helped you figure out the best way to get from “A” to “B” concerning waste management? 

Let’s explore these “what ifs” in more detail.

There is a better vision for the future

Scenario: A regulated waste hauler pulls into a parking lot lined with multiple retail stores. On this trip, the hauler picks up waste from only a fraction of these stores because the hauler views each retailer as a single, unconnected entity. For example, even though “Store A” sits next door to “Store B”—and both businesses currently have similar waste volumes and hauling needs—the hauler only visits “Store A” (despite the fact a same-day visit to “Store B” would have spared the expense of a second journey later that week.) This siloed, single-serving approach to waste management is both expensive and inefficient for the retailers and the waste hauler. 

Now imagine a different scenario, one in which that same hauler pulls into the parking lot and visits all of the retailers in a single day, eliminating the need for another visit anytime soon. Moreover, each retailer has already pre-scanned and labeled their waste for the hauler, recording this real-time data on a cloud platform that both the hauler and store can access. This technology allows retailers and waste companies to partner in the most efficient ways to limit waste, reduce costs and function in an environmentally conscious manner. Furthermore, through collaboration between the hauler and the pool of mall retailers, hauler expenses may now be shared between multiple stores (instead of just one or a few)—reducing costs for all.

The Smarter Sorting platform was built to make this a reality by providing retailers and their waste haulers with shared access to data regarding regulated waste management. The result: a combined technology program that enables seamless in-store management in which retailers can cut their regulated waste costs by an estimated 50-90 percent and waste haulers can realize gains in operational efficiency and disposal accountability.

With Smarter Sorting providing regulated waste traceability, waste haulers and retailers can be on the same page with the same shared goals: to realize cost savings, minimize waste, reduce environmental impacts, and create an environment of safer, better-trained employees.

Highlights of the Smarter Sorting platform:

-The platform would provide haulers with visibility into retailer waste volumes, ensuring efficient, timely pickups coupled with real-time monitoring of waste compliance windows. In its current state, the system is estimated to reduce hauler stops by roughly 20 percent.

-Data transparency could also help retailers with generator status optimization issues. Shared data and close partnerships with waste haulers would give retailers the confidence to manage regulated waste on a store-by-store and item-by-item basis, instead of managing inventory too conservatively for the sole purpose of avoiding regulatory penalties. Smarter Sorting’s machine-learning platform makes this process easy by automating waste management decision-making.

-With effective record keeping and waste minimization, retailer generator status levels could lessen, minimizing regulatory burdens (e.g., paperwork, on-site pickups, etc.) and cutting costs. 

-Industry-wide, item-level, data-driven transparency would allow items currently called “waste” (such as bleach, perfume and detergent) to be managed as commodities, and diverted from waste streams to salvage, donation or reuse pathways for maximum financial advantages. 

-With both the retailer and waste hauler using the Smarter Sorting platform, the time required to handoff waste from retailer to hauler would be drastically cut. This time reduction would lower operational strain on retail and waste hauler employees while opening up valuable physical space in a store. 

Bottom line: Streamlined operations and complete, data-driven transparency afforded through a combined technology platform would create new opportunities to reduce operational costs for retailers and haulers while increasing sustainability—turning waste management into materials management. The platform could also help support changes in the regulatory space to drive further efficiencies and empower sustainability initiatives. Retail waste management doesn’t have to be a lonely—or costly—experience.

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