Fixing the recycle bin

There is a heap of better ideas on the way in the recycling and waste management space regarding efficiencies for trash pick-up at apartment communities.

During these unprecedented times of “work-from-home, stay-at-home,” many are passing time by reorganizing their “stuff,” which typically leads to higher volumes of possession tossing, much of which ends up in the wrong trash container and ultimately, a landfill.

One effort gaining traction is CheckSammy Technologies, which created a new Unlimited Bulk and Junk Removal Sustainability Program at a fixed price-per-door rate that many apartment and condominium properties are finding to be a less expensive and more efficient method to rid themselves of bulk and reusable consumer goods. The program launched last year and is operating mostly on the West Coast, but has begun to spread nationwide.

The program is currently exclusive to multi-family communities and is operating in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Vancouver, B.C. Inroads have been made in North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Florida, Washington, D.C., and more.

CheckSammy is designed to not just collect bulk items and reusable consumer goods, but to collect data – the kind that large owners and operators crave. Some benefits of the Unlimited program are:

  1. A fixed monthly budget for predictable operational costs
  2. Substantial savings over on-demand bulk removal services
  3. Detailed quarterly sustainability reports

AWM Alliance Real Estate Group manages a real estate portfolio valued at $12 billion with more than 27,000 suites commercial, residential and strata. It has been in operation since 1997. It began using CheckSammy last year. The system has greatly helped the company’s recycling and waste-hauling execution and expenses, says Jonathon Williams, Director, Project Services.

“This area is definitely in a recycling frenzy,” Williams says. “It’s out of control. You have to separate everything. There are 10 bins at a community based on paper, glass, plastic, cardboard, organic and everything in between. It’s all about the [local] regulations. It’s got the haulers through a loop. They are fined for violations. Trash pickup is expensive.”

In Vancouver, B.C., nearly anything can be recycled except clothing, toys and electronics. Building occupants here — or anywhere — can place reusable items in the bin when they are selling, moving, or just needing to de-clutter.

“This helps [housing occupants] take those recyclable things out of the stream and prevents them from going to landfills,” Williams says. “With people hunkering down, everyone is staying home and they are going through their stuff and throwing things out more than ever. The CheckSammy bins are overflowing. We have to have them picked up every two or three days.”

Williams’ properties are charged a flat rate, “unlike a lot of those ‘got junk’ haulers where you never know what you are going to pay,” Williams says. “It could be $50 or $500 depending on what you are throwing away.”

For apartment operators, the key to making it work, Williams says, is proper signage. “It has to be dummy-proof,” he says.

By tracking the frequency of pick-up, apartment operators can more efficiently forecast their overall waste management budgets. By having these bulk, non-recyclable items out of their garbage stream, they can save on contamination fees and pick-ups.

The sensors in the bins enable for valuable real-time data collection, which is huge when it comes to large companies who need that information for investors (such as ESG-based) or to comply with benchmarking reporting to comply with county, state or federal sustainability programs.

“Specializing in multifamily, I recognize my clients’ waste needs are increasing almost overnight,” Richard Bates, Strategic Business Solutions, Waste Management, says. “Budget-friendly bulk hauling solutions are hard to find during good times, but in this environment where site teams are working remotely with limited staff, having a fixed budget unlimited bulk hauling solution is a real problem solver.

“Pair that with a solution allowing residents to allocate items in the reuse market instead of the landfill is setting a new standard in the bulk hauling service industry. Add in the technology to allow for accurate sustainability reporting and you have my full and undivided attention.

CheckSammy Co-Founder Sam Scoten says his bins accept clothing, small electronics, linens, books, toys, sports equipment, kitchenware or any reusable household item. His employees sort the bins and re-direct the appropriate re-usable materials to goodwill-based agencies and groups.

“We’ve discovered Google watches, Prada sports coats, computer tablets, good-condition clothing, and fantastic household items,” Scoten says.


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