‘What does that say?’ Employee handwriting often a roadblock for retail companies trying to manage regulated waste

by | Aug 1, 2019

Businesses already face enough obstacles in their efforts to reduce and manage retail regulated waste. Trouble deciphering employee handwriting and other offline management pitfalls don’t have to add to the challenge.

My handwriting is terrible. I admit it. 

My wife and children make fun of it. Even my parents get in on the act. I blame it on one thing: as a teen, I worked at our local grocery store in Ocean City, N.J. As an employee, my responsibilities included working in the backroom, checking in vendors, managing inventory, and stocking shelves. These duties required a lot of handwritten paperwork, often done on the fly. As a result, my writing eventually morphed into a hastily written form of chicken scratch. 

And it hasn’t been the same ever since.  

While many of these activities (thankfully) have been automated and digitized in recent years, employees handling retail hazardous waste—particularly in small to mid-sized retail operations—often still utilize ink and paper to track and manage these processes.

While it may seem insignificant (and even quaint), these practices can put a sizeable dent in the bottom line while negatively affecting employee productivity. 

Consider this scenario: a retail employee has a bottle of cleaner that needs to be categorized, documented, and tracked as regulated waste. In a “non-digitized” store, this employee would physically write down this management process. This protocol is problematic for myriad reasons. 

1.) Writing requires more time (which costs more money).

2.) People make mistakes, and compliance results will not be as accurate or useful as an automated system (which also costs more money).

3.) Have you seen your handwriting lately? Unless you were an education major, it’s probably not good. Studies suggest handwriting skills are disappearing rapidly, and it’s only going to get worse. For example, the requirement to learn cursive was eliminated from Common Core Standards in the United States in 2010. Illegible scribble is on the rise and can be a potential source of frustration for back-of-store employees.

Yes, when it comes to creating and managing effective retail regulated waste programs, handwriting is not the central problem to solve. However, as an often overlooked piece of the compliance puzzle, eliminating handwriting in favor of a digital system can ease employees workload and increase worker efficiency—all while improving compliance outcomes. 

It’s these sorts of important details that set Smarter Sorting’s system apart. 

Our Single Item Sorter is designed to take the guesswork out of making decisions about regulated items and the complications associated with tracking and managing regulated waste in a compliant fashion. 

For retailers seeking to reduce liability and waste while increasing employee efficiency,  the implementation of a handwriting-free system is a low-hanging fruit that can pay significant dividends.

As for my handwriting woes, it’s not all “bad” news for me. Sure, no one can read anything I jot down, but I haven’t had to (or been allowed to?) write a holiday card in years. 

Sign up for our newsletter

Get the latest Smarter Sorting articles and content around retail, manufacturing, sustainability, and product classification.