Calling the current weather shifts and changes “crazy” is steadily becoming an understatement. We are constantly fluctuating from freezing, to warm, to weather that is windy enough to push small carts across the road, all in a matter of days. For waste disposal, these flip flops can cause major issues on every level. Having a plan in place for major weather events such as “Snowmaggedon” is common practice, but what about unforeseen delays due to quick-changing weather patterns? How does your community handle sudden pouring rain and intense heat?
Within my time in the waste industry, I’ve noticed that waste disposal is often forgotten in communities’ weather preparedness plans, up until glaring issues arise during a sudden weather event. Suddenly, you may have snow pile up blocking your community’s dumpster enclosure or recyclables flying down the street due to high winds, and you have to come up with a quick solution. It’s not a disaster of epic proportions, but it’s large enough to affect your daily schedule. Having predetermined plans in place for these smaller instances can save you a lot of headache and keep your community beautiful no matter the situation.
Where do you start? – Communication
The first step is open communication. Foster a good relationship with your waste disposal company’s sales or customer relations representative. They take great pride in providing the best service possible and that includes keeping in contact with their clients. If you’re unsure about how the weather is going to impact service, reach out to them. Most companies utilize email to keep their clients informed, so be sure your email on file is up-to-date and keep an eye on your spam folder. This is how clients are informed of unforeseen delays, especially due to weather, making it invaluable to communities and businesses.
Another great tool at your disposal is social media. The majority of your residents are most likely subscribed to some form of social media. It’s how they get their news and keep updated, so why not utilize that? Link up with your waste services’ social media and consider creating a community page or group where you can share updates with everyone quickly and easily.
Staying informed is the first step, but that only does so much. Each forecast requires its own game plan and it’s important for that plan to include even the slightest weather changes. Work with your waste professionals to tailor the plan to your community’s needs. These plans should be shared with each member of your team to make sure you have backup coverage.
What’s Next? – Equipment Preparedness
No matter the weather, American Disposal Services suggests utilizing secured enclosures and ensuring your containers’ lids are intact and operable. A solid, closed lid and a covered enclosure can keep out rain, snow, wind, and even curious or hungry critters looking for their next meal. It can also help to keep smells contained that may grow stronger in high heat or direct sunlight. Keeping your community’s containers and enclosures in good repair and making sure employees and residents are doing their part to ensure everything is in working order can go a very long way in stopping the scramble during quickly changing weather.
Last Step? – Plan for all weather types
Rain is one of the simplest things to plan for. If your enclosure is covered and/or the lids on your containers are fully functioning, the only thing to worry about would be your residents getting the waste to the bins. If needed, your community can also delay putting out their waste or recyclables until the rain clears up.
Snow can cause longer lasting issues. It’s important to clear snow from around your containers and enclosures as well as ensure that the roads are accessible for large trucks. Snow can easily re-freeze into ice, so keep these areas well salted. Contact your waste disposal company and inform residents and employees of any snow related delays in pickup.
Wind has the potential to toss waste and recyclables around your neighborhood at an impressive speed. Lids and enclosures help, but can’t always stop wind in its tracks. Make sure all trash bags are secured and place heavier items on top to keep everything in its place. Consider asking residents to delay putting out waste and recyclables until the wind subsides.
Heat doesn’t become a problem until suddenly a strong odor begins to waft through the neighborhood. During hot summer months, ask your residents to use white trash bags in lieu of black ones and double bag their waste whenever possible. Keep lids and enclosures closed to keep that smell contained.
The solution is simple – Plan ahead.
What looks easy on paper can be tough to navigate on short notice. Planning ahead and keeping everyone informed for variable weather can save you both time and money while keeping your community clean and beautiful.
By Hillary Campbell
Hillary has worked for American Disposal Services since January 2018. As part of the Outreach Crew, she gives tours of the American Recycling Center to groups of all ages, attends various community events such as Touch-A-Trucks, and participates in area expos. She also writes for American Disposal Services’ blog, The Green Scene.