3 Trends in Waste Management Services that Sales Teams Should Embrace

The past few years have thrown a curveball at the waste management industry. Empty commercial buildings, dramatic shifts in the global recycling marketplace, and refocused public concern with the environment have all changed the way you do business. But sometimes, a shake up can be a breakthrough for companies that know how to spot an opportunity.

Consider Israel-based company Envomed, which specializes in on-site disposal of medical waste and debuted its signature product in 2019. Envomed couldn’t have predicted the pandemic, but it understood the desire for more sustainable approaches to medical waste, so when the global need for it exploded, the company was perfectly positioned to meet that need.

New trends in waste management are constantly developing in response to technological breakthroughs and environmental concerns. Here are three developments that are shaping the market right now and ideas for how to take advantage of them.

1. Growth of Green Waste Management

It’s not a fringe movement: businesses want sustainable, green options. As concerns grow about carbon emissions, lack of recycling, and excess waste piling up in landfills and floating in the ocean, more companies are looking for sustainable ways to do business. If your company offers green waste management services, you’re giving your customers an initiative they can highlight in their sustainability reports. And if that’s a selling point for them, it’s a selling point for you.

Composting Food Waste and the Zero-Waste Movement

Food waste produces greenhouse gases when it decomposes in a landfill, but when it’s composted, it conserves water and reduces emissions. It also turns organic garbage into a valuable product, compost, which contributes to healthier, more fertile soil, making it an attractive purchase for companies in the agriculture, landscaping, and parks industries.

Adding composting to your services means you get to grab a share of that burgeoning market, and it gets you ahead of a trend that is quickly becoming mandatory: Some states, such as California and New York, have passed laws requiring waste management companies to offer composting.

Waste management company Goodr has gone all in on this trend by offering a suite of B2B services all focused on reducing the amount of organic waste that ends up in landfills. They don’t just compost; they also collect surplus food before it’s thrown out and divert it to nonprofits looking to feed people experiencing food insecurity.

The zero-waste movement represents another opportunity for waste management companies. Zero waste is a commitment to cutting down on trash, reducing the amount of waste that’s sent to landfills, and increasing diversion rates for recyclables. Cities across the U.S. have voluntarily pledged to work toward zero-waste goals, and private organizations may follow zero-waste initiatives as well—and those are prime opportunities for your company to offer support.

Waste management heavy hitter WM has embraced the zero-waste opportunity with open arms, as showcased by the WM Phoenix Open, the world’s largest third-party certified zero-waste event. The company ensures its event isn’t creating a negative environmental impact by coupling a robust recycling initiative with consumer education, water conservation, composting, and building material donations.

What Sales Teams Should Do: Target Green Building Owners

If your company has the ability to develop composting methods and meet the needs of zero-waste cities and organizations, your next step is to target sustainability-minded customers. Develop marketing and sales campaigns that zero in on companies in eco-conscious industries, property owners who are trying to expand into green buildings, and organizations that are already making efforts to improve their environmental impact.

Treat municipal accounts with the same targeted approach: look for nearby cities committed to reducing their waste and check for other municipalities trending in that direction.

2. Cloud-Based Collection

The Internet of Things (IoT) has expanded from much more than a web of smartphones and other mobile devices. Now, our homes, appliances, and cars are all connected in the cloud. In the commercial space, that trend has led to building automation for HVAC, lighting, mechanical systems, and more.

For waste management, the IoT is becoming an increasingly important component of operations, and that trend offers you the chance to deliver a more responsive user experience while improving your efficiency and saving on costs.

Smart Dumpsters, Truck Sensors, and AI Stream Sorting

Cloud-based support benefits your bottom line by improving your overall efficiency and preventing costly mistakes. Think about your current collection process: How often does your company waste time picking up containers before they’re full? Or when is the last time a customer called in upset because their pickup was late? Container capacity sensors (AKA “smart dumpsters”) solve this problem. You know exactly when it’s time to collect, and you can optimize routes based on the needs of each specific customer.

Truck sensors can help optimize collection as well. Built-in tech maps out the most straightforward route in real time while taking things such as traffic and construction (and container capacity) into account.

AI and/or robotics-based stream sorting is another IoT innovation that keeps waste streams segmented at material recovery facilities. Relying on tech to separate waste prevents stream contamination and improves diversion for recyclables—which dovetails perfectly with your sustainable waste initiatives.

What Sales Teams Should Do: Use Customer Analytics to Your Advantage

Another advantage of smart waste management is that all those sensors provide a treasure trove of customer data that can inform your sales strategy. Smart dumpsters funnel information directly to you that shows customer trends—you know precisely how often each customer needs your services. That’s an opportunity for your team to build upselling and cross-selling campaigns and maximize the revenue coming from each of your accounts.

3. Changes in the Labor Market

Shifts in the labor market have impacted every industry, and waste management isn’t immune. As more workers seek out higher pay and less demanding conditions, it’s become even tougher to attract people, which means it’s difficult to keep waste management running smoothly. The shortage of labor is being felt throughout the industry, from collections to sales.

Recruitment and Retention Problems in Waste Collection

Recruitment and retention are especially challenging for waste collection, and the reason for that is pretty simple: Waste collection is a hard, sometimes dangerous job. Despite the difficulty of the work, waste collection is an essential service. We saw that firsthand during the pandemic. In the public sector, cities across the U.S. experienced disrupted municipal service as employees called out sick or left their jobs, and many of those places are still struggling to fill job vacancies. Any service disruption for your commercial clients is a sign for them to look elsewhere for waste pickup.

Part of the solution to this problem is straightforward: Higher wages and more attractive perks will go a long way toward recruiting and retaining talent. But other fixes are a bit more subtle, such as finding ways to make work easier for drivers through automated route optimization and smart dumpsters.

What Sales Teams Should Do: Highlight Reliability in Your Pitch

Every investment your company makes to improve retention translates directly into more reliable service for customers—and in this market, that’s a very valuable selling point. You can highlight those improvements in your pitch, and you can gain an edge over competitors that might have a lower price point but can’t offer the same reliability.

Keep an Eye on the Market to Seize Trends as They Happen

Trends in waste management change quickly, and if you want to keep up, your team needs the ability to change tactics along with them. But to change your approach effectively, you need in-depth insights into your market and a deep understanding of your targets at the property level. You need to know details about the building owner of each property in your geographic area—knowing their industry and company can point you toward opportunities to offer sustainable services or smart dumpsters. That street-level view will enable you to spot trends as they’re developing, so your team can pivot on a dime and keep up with customers’ changing expectations.

Originally published on June 9, 2022 Updated on June 9, 2022

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