April 11, 2019
Maximizing the Business Value of Waste Management Practices
In many companies, waste management is an afterthought. This attitude is rooted in a number of preconceptions. Compliance is not a line item on the P&L. Managing waste is not one of the glamor jobs; the people managing waste wear boots, not loafers. Local, state, and federal rules are confusing and complex. Waste smells. The cumulative result of these perceptions is that waste management is relegated to a task instead of elevated to a professional role. People with “EH&S” in their titles have to fit waste management strategy and practice into a busy agenda, which means that their jobs become “eH&S” (little “e”). Treating waste management as a secondary business practice means that many companies are overlooking a significant component of their risk profile, their sustainability, and, ultimately, of their profitability. Properly understood, waste management practices are every bit as important as human resources practices, financial practices, and production practices. A few examples of how waste management strategy can have a meaningful bottom-line impact on profitability will illustrate this point.
The most obvious, and publicly visible, way that waste management strategy affects company profitability is in the area of environmental compliance. The maximum civil penalty for a violation of the EPA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is $72,718 per day per violation. In 2017, EPA enforcement actions yielded more than $1.5 billion in assessed penalties. These are in addition to state and local penalties and the estimated value of projects to address underlying environmental issues. Not only are the dollar values of compliance violations staggering, but also companies must consider the impact of negative press coverage on future business. A less obvious, but no less meaningful, bottom line impact of waste management strategy is the total cost of waste disposal. These costs are not limited to disposal facilities. There are hard dollar impacts related to transportation, inventory management, and supplies that must be considered in each transaction. Granted, keeping track of all of these disparate elements can be complex. Even the best of accounting systems have difficulty tracking disparate costs across containment units, manifests, waste types, transporters, disposal facilities, and brokers. Still, those waste management professionals who are able to master this challenge can demonstrate true profitability impacts that originate with superior waste management practices.
Perhaps the complexity of managing waste in a cost-efficient and compliant manner is the driver behind the significant level of outsourcing that characterizes the industry. Many smaller facilities simply can’t afford to hire and retain individuals with the knowledge required to characterize waste, profile waste, manage inventory, and coordinate waste logistics. Instead, many of these functions are performed by third parties, often at considerable expense. Again, this is a real world, bottom line profitability impact, in this case, one that is exacerbated by a failure of waste management strategy and practice.
Very few companies have been able to effectively maximize the business value of their waste management strategy and practices. A key reason for the failure to realize this value is the lack of tools and resources to facilitate the work by reducing complexity and enabling accurate monitoring and tracking. Accountants have accounting ERPs; human resources departments have payroll systems; production processes have any number of software applications. These have historically been lacking in the waste industry, though.
WASTELINQ’s comprehensive portfolio of waste management and strategy applications are designed to address this deficiency. With products designed both for waste generators and for waste service providers, WASTELINQ has leveraged the expertise of waste industry service experts to integrate industry-specific knowledge with proven operational capabilities. These tools help the waste management professional to level the playing field with other business practice areas. Streamline processes, save money, and solve compliance problems with WASTELINQ.
Well, all except the smell. . .