Commercial waste pick up is not just a matter of size. Though certainly larger than residential carts and waste cans, commercial containers come with additional features made necessary by the volume and weight of their waste loads. Commercial containers are made with different materials, often with reinforced structures to manage greater load weights. Given the large volume of often putrescible wastes (commercial containers are a necessity for grocery stores and restaurants), commercial containers can also be equipped with odor suppression systems. Secure covers and lids are a typical feature, and not just in remote rural areas where bears and other species are looking for an easy meal. Commercial containers often come equipped with onboard scales for ease of weight measurement and billing. RFID chips are also used to track their locations. Commercial containers also require specially designed lifters and loaders for waste pick up and hauling.
Commercial Containers and Carts—Design, Loaders, and Lifters
Obviously, commercial containers are larger and heavier than residential cans and carts. As such, manual lifting and loading are out of the question. Mechanical hydraulic systems are required. These come in three varieties: front-end loader attachments, automated side loader arms, and semi-automatic cart tippers. Each is designed for a different work environment and loading application.
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The most common equipment used for the loading commercial containers is the front-end loader apparatus. These are especially useful in the handling of large bins and carts commonly found at businesses, stores, restaurants, and multi-family housing units such as townhomes, rowhomes, apartment complexes, and condominiums. Basically, a front-end loader is a very large articulated forklift operating at the front of the truck under direct visual observation by the driver or operator. The truck moves slowly forward and the tines of the front-end loader’s forklift arms are slid forward into specially designed reinforced loops welded to the sides of the waste container. Once securely in place, the arms lift the container up and over the driver’s cab flipping its contents into the open hopper located in the rear body of the collection truck. Inside the hopper, the waste is compacted by a “packer blade” to increase its density and free up additional capacity for the next load. Though directly controlled by the in-cab operator, he is assisted by ground spotters to ensure that there has been no spillage of waste outside the truck during the loading process. This is just a safety precaution since the opening of the waste container top usually matches the opening of the truck’s hopper.
Automated side loaders use completely different methods to perform the same function as front-end loaders. On the front-end loader, the automated side loader is an extension of the in-cab driver or operator who operates it from his driver’s seat via a joystick similar to those used in video games. The joystick allows for articulated control of the side arm instead of the simple, direct, and flip action of the rigid tines of the front-end loader. The side loader arm is able to reach out up to 9 feet from the body of the waste collection truck. Unlike the front-end loader with its brute strength, the finesse of the side arm loader is designed to manage medium sized waste containers. But like the front-end loader, the side arm loader automates the waste collection process, reducing the need for labor. Instead of a crew of up to three men, waste collection can be performed by a single driver or operator.
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The grapple truck is a variation of the automated side loader. However, this system is designed more for the collections of loose debris than large individual waste objects such as appliances or furniture. The system utilized a hydraulically operated clamshell bucket set on the end of a swinging boom that can extend out and allow for prices placement of the bucket. Once in place, the open clamshell bucket descends into the waste, closes on a loose load, and is swung back to the rear of the truck so it can deposit the waste into the truck’s hopper. The hopper itself is usually equipped with a compactor blade that sweeps the waste forward against the front of the hopper to compact it and achieve high levels of density.
Cart tippers (or lifters) automate what has been the exclusively manual operation of lifting waste cans and depositing their contents into the rear of a residential waste collection truck. Its function is to grab, lift, tip, empty, and turn the waste cart to its initial position and location. Though cart tippers are designed to handle up to twice the standard weight of a typical waste cart (350 pounds), it is not the weight of the cart and its contents that matter to the proper operation of the tipper. Instead, a cart has to be designed so that its body mates with the tipper’s arms. This often involves the augmentation of the cart with a saddle attachment designed to receive the tipper arms. At minimum, there must be at least a 3 feet clearance from the ground to the lifter saddle.
The cart tipper’s lifting power is provided by either a hydraulic lift cylinder or a rotary actuator. The hydraulic lift cylinder is less expensive and will represent a lower initial capital cost, but tends to wear out sooner. The more expensive rotary actuator has a longer operating lifetime and lower operating and maintenance costs. Rotary actuators come in two versions: a simple dual rack and pinion or the more complicated and more expensive helical design. When choosing between rotary actuator types, the operator must once again choose between higher up-front costs or lower maintenance costs and longer operation lifetime.
Waste Collection Containers and Carts—Sizes and Designs
Commercial containers are only one size and type of waste cart. Waste cans come in many sizes. Single and duplex family residences utilize 32-gallon and 64-gallon carts. Multi-family apartment complexes and small commercial operations can be serviced by 96-gallon carts. Standard container size specifications are shown in Table 1.
(Source: “Trash and Recycling Enclosure Design Guide,” City of Santa Barbara, revised July 2016)
There are also specialized carts designed for compost waste, medical waste, secure documents and shredded waste, and containers for recyclable materials.
Compost waste (organic and food waste, or green waste) containers come with perforations on the sides of the containers. These allow air to infiltrate into the stored wastes and helps to thoroughly aerate the organic waste to prepare it for the formal composting process. The aeration generates heat that kick starts the decomposition process, accelerates the evaporation of moisture and free liquids, and reduces odors. As a further aid to liquid removal, at the bottom of the bin is a grating installed above the bin floor of the containers to allow for continuous water drainage. The green waste is kept above the accumulated (or drained moisture) at the container bottom. The design should allow for easy cleaning of the grates to prevent long-term clogging of its openings.
Medical waste is unique in that it is often not dumped out of the container. Instead, the entire container is picked up and stacked in open bay hauling trucks. This is done to prevent the accidental spillage of potentially dangerous bio-hazard waste or medical sharps that have come into contact with infected individuals. As such, the design of the medical waste and sharps containers should allow for safe and easy stacking of the containers and efficient storage arrangement within the trucks so they must be relatively lightweight and usually have a slimmer design than bulk waste containers. Larger medical waste operations may utilize carts as large as 150 gallons in size. The top lids are usually locked (padlocked or integral roto-lock) to prevent access or spillage.
Documents and shredded waste generated by businesses and governments must be handled in a safe and secure manner in order to protect the sensitive nature of these documents. These carts are often integrated with shredding machinery or include special inserts (either of cloth or plastic) to keep this material segregated from the main waste stream.
Containers for recyclable materials include all those waste materials that are not designated as “green” organic waste but are recycled for reuse. These include aluminum foil and trays, cardboard, food and drinks cans, food and beverage cartons (tetrapak type containers, aka “juice boxes”), paper of all kinds including news print, plastic bottles, and other containers made from plastic. Usually, the dumpsters and carts designated to receive recyclables accept all of the above materials in a mixed recycling stream. Recycled materials are usually not compacted for shipping until after they have been processed at the material recovery facility (MRF). As such recyclable materials tend to be low density. Therefore it is often more economical to collect recyclable materials in larger dumpsters for pick up.
Credit: Snyder Industries
Medical waste containers
Commercial Collection Operations—Time and Money
As with every other business endeavor, time is money. The industry standard for measuring waste collection efficiency is the amount of time it takes to load the contents of a single waste bin of standard size and weight. In the real world, the amount of weight in each waste bin can vary widely. The resultant cycle time required for actual waste pick up varies depending on the weight of waste being loaded and the methods used for loading. Manual loading is the most inefficient method of loading waste, though it naturally requires no capital investment for lifting equipment. Human muscles have limitations which can only be overcome by mechanical means. The highest productivity is achieved by fully automated mechanical systems that require no human labor and only one human operator (usually the waste collection truck’s driver).
The total costs of waste collection include labor costs, fuel, and oil costs, maintenance and repair, overhead, and management. Each of these directly or indirectly related to the time it takes for a waste collection truck to complete its assigned collection routes and deposit the waste at its regional landfill. This time depends on the following: time and distance to the collection route start point from the trucks garage or parking area, length and time needed to reach each designated collection point on the route, the time needed to drive from the collection route end point to the landfill for final disposal at the working face (included time in queue, weighing, spotting and unloading), and those multiple items that make up non-task time (return from the landfill to the storage area, crew meals and breaks, truck refueling, etc.).
The key to minimizing waste collection costs is to minimize the amount of time that must be spent at each pickup point. Given a fixed collection route that has been already optimized by route planners, it is the reduction of the time spent picking up and collecting the waste that becomes critical. And that is often a function of the type of waste container. Less routing time means less wear and tear on the collection truck fleet, reduced fuel consumption, and the least number of trucks for servicing the largest number of customers.
IPL Inc., Saint-Damien, Québec, is more than just a waste cart manufacturer. IPL offers a full range of injection-molded containers for municipal, commercial, and industrial recycling, solid waste, and organic management, all available with options and graphics tailored to the client’s specifications. They have also integrated their entire waste collection process including assembly and delivery of the IPL waste cart solution. IPL developed its own proprietary software for cart delivery to ensure the best routing for door-to-door cart distribution. All carts can also be equipped with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag. Each number can be customized to fit customer specifications. Each cart will be delivered and placed curbside at every address required by their customers.
One such customer is the Regional Municipality of Peel, the second largest municipality in Ontario after Toronto. In less than three months, IPL delivered 1.2 million rolling carts and kitchen containers to 317,000 homes in this region. This project also involved the manufacturing, distribution, and 10-year maintenance of three kinds of carts for Peel Region’s residents: waste carts, organics carts, and recycling carts. They employed a new smart technology utilizing smart phone scanning for distribution. With this system, each cart was initialized with a unique RFID chip containing the cart’s serial number, GPS coordinates, and the home address files of its customer. By using a smart phone, their delivery teams could scan each cart, know exactly where and how to deliver each cart. Simultaneously, the IPL management team performed live monitoring of the delivery process.
“This project allowed us to position ourselves a notch above any North American competition”, says Paul Palazzo, vice president, sales, and marketing at IPL Environmental, the division responsible for this project. “Not only were we faster and more efficient than any of our competitors, but the technology used in this project will also help us manage the Region’s ongoing growth and 10-year maintenance and service agreement that is part of the project.”
Snyder Industries Inc. manufactures special containers for medical and hazardous waste disposal, select refuse equipment, and community recycling. Snyder containers are designed to be reusable “point-of-use” containers. This allows them to safely handle and transport large quantities of medical sharps, needles, lab waste, IV bags, and tubing. Not only do these containers reduce disposal costs, they meet the demanding standards of both the UN and US Department of Transportation for the transport of certain types of hazardous waste.
E-Pak Manufacturing’s Refuse Container is E-Pak’s lightest variety of rectangular containers. It can manage waste that is bulky but light in weight and can be easily maneuvered with a light capacity lift hoist. Built with hefty 12-gauge sides and reinforced by 3-inch structural cross members, its interior is fully welded and it comes with a sealed tailgate to prevent leakage. E-Pak can provide containers that vary in size from 10 cubic yards to 90 cubic yards (12 feet to 40 feet in length).
Rehrig Pacific Company’s Roll-out Carts are designed to withstand both fully and semi-automated collection systems. They come in a wide range of sizes, curbside applications (including refuse, organic waste, and recyclables), and load capacities. Easy maneuvering is facilitated by a continuous one-piece handle with a strong gripping area and the wide wheelbase. A wide ground base keeps these carts upright and stable. The Roll-out Carts can be specialized to specific customer needs. Optional features include internal and external locking lids, slots for collecting confidential documents, and cutouts for recyclable beverage containers. Collection vehicles with side loader arms can securely grasp, dump, and replace these containers without drivers leaving their cabs. Weighted bases provide stability; gravity locks open at 90 degrees of tilt, and textured surfaces help speed automated collection. Wide opening lids and a reusable injection molded plastic liner, which can be used with or without bags, make manual collection quick and easy.
Rehrig Pacific’s new EnviroGuard 35 gallon Organics Cart is a 100% ANSI compliant container (Type B and G) designed with a unique locking mechanism that can operate in both manual and automated collection systems. In addition to the EnviroGuard’s rodent-resistant features, it also allows the hauler to optimize their collections, improve safety, and reduce workers’ injuries by utilizing a fully automated collection method. EnviroGuard makes this method of collection possible and it does not require the resident to unlock the container prior to collection—making it easy for residents to use while guarding the material from rodents until it is collected.
Rehrig Pacific Company is a global leader in providing logistics optimization solutions for 11 vertical industries: Bakery, Beverage, Dairy, Environmental, Foodservice, Fresh Produce, Protein, Beer Wine & Spirits, Retail, Automotive Aftermarket & Home Improvement, and Upstream Supply Chain for CPGs. Rehrig Pacific’s optimization solutions derive from the belief in challenging the status quo on how products and ideas move.