Waste Nothing, Reduce the Excess

A simple guide to excess yardage expenses

Overflowing Dumpsters

Let’s be honest, overloading a dumpster is never a decision an operation chooses to make. Although, it happens.

Perhaps, a business has too much trash, and doesn’t know what to do with it. The team may also not realize that the trash contract only includes services for a level full dumpster thus anything extra will be subject to an overage fee. Then again, maybe you’ve simply cleaned out the back room knowing there would be extra costs but wanted to get it all gone before the weekend.

In reality, an overloaded dumpster may not seem like a big deal but it can be a significant driver of unpredictable expenses. The reason it’s sometimes a bigger issue than it may seem is because permanent commercial dumpsters are contracted by volume.

What does this mean?

The waste industry has two predominant models for handling your trash largely based on what type of truck is used. First are roll off containers, think big construction dumpsters used for garage clean-outs or large trash compactors the size of a mini-van. Then there are front load and rear load dumpsters. This is your standard permanent commercial dumpster behind most restaurants, stores or apartment complexes.

Front load trash service contracts are writtento a specific volume of material. For example, ifyou have an 8.0 cubic yard dumpster emptied once per week, your service contract is for 8.0 yards of material per week. This is informally calculated by ensuring that all of the trash fits into the dumpster with all of the lids remaining closed. When the dumpster is overloaded by heaping excess trash on top of it, then you’ve exceeded the amount of trash service that you’re paying for in your contract. As a result, your trash hauler will likely charge an excess yardage fee.

When the hauling vendor arrives at your location, and notices the overflowing trash, either the truck or the driver takes a photo for documentation, and then charges your account an excess yardage fee.Excess yardage fees can range anywhere from $50 -$150 per extra yard and as a result can significantly increase your monthly bill.

Why such a high expense?

As a hauler, route optimization is at the core of their operational profitability. The goal is to safely pickup as much trash as possible in the shortest amount of time. This is determined by the contracted volume of trash per location combined with the number of locations on a truck’s route.

Let's dig even deeper.

From the hauler’s perspective, the biggest operating costs are the truck (fuel, maintenance, acquisition costs etc.), the driver (CDL labor, benefits, etc.), and the landfill (Disposal costs per ton based on weight). On average, it costs around $90/hour to operate a front load trash truck.

Haulers work extremely hard to create route density in order to maximize their operating revenue while minimizing their cost. As such, each route has pre-determined costsbefore the driver even leaves the office. Included in those costs is the assumed time needed to run that route, including how many pickups or the total anticipated volume of waste which then translates into a budgeted cost for operating the truck, paying the driver, and the disposal at the landfill. For example:

Route X has 100 pickups, it takes 8 hours, 1 driver, and one trip to the landfill with an assumed weight of 20 tons. At $90/hour, and $50/ton, it costs the hauler $720 to operate the truck, and then $1000 at the landfill in disposal costs. $1720 total expense for the route.

At 10 of the 100 pickups, there was excess trash heaped on top of the dumpsters (aka Excess Yardage). The driver has now met the capacity of the truck before being able to finish the route. As a result, an additional trip to the land fill will now be necessary.

This now pushes the driver into overtime which pushes the route cost up to $135/hour to be able to finish the route that day. Assume it takes an average of two hours to make an additional trip to the landfill and that the excess trash weighed around 1 ton. This means that the hauler’s expense for that route has increased by $320 or 18.6% simply due to these excess yards.

Trash haulers are simply not setup to be able to absorb this type of expense and thus have to charge for the excess trash as a result.

How do I keep this from happening?

Prevention is the single best way to avoid getting excess yardage charges. With proper planning, you can look for other ways to handle your excess trash at a less expensive cost. This can include scheduling extra pickups which can usually be done for around $50-$80 to empty your entire dumpster.

To schedule an extra pickup, give your hauler a call,and request to schedule an extra pickup based on their next available routing day. The best way to manage this would be to have the pickup scheduled prior to your next normal trash pickup day, thus eliminating the possibility of a hauler arriving to the site and the container already being overloaded.

Another alternative method would be to reschedule your pickup days. Some haulers will allow you to reschedule/adjust your pickup days at no extra cost. If your normal pickup schedule is Monday/Friday, then you could have your hauler move up the Friday pickup to Thursday with enough notice at no additional cost. Not all vendors do this, but most will try, and it can be worth looking into as a less expensive alternative.

Furthermore, there are other options a business can consider in order to mitigate the cost of excess yardage. Try seeing if a third-party junk provider in the area can pick up the larger bulk items taking up extra space in the dumpster at a cheaper rate.

However, sometimes prevention and alternative options simply won’t work for your operation. In this case, it’s important to review the current contract to make sure that the vendor is allowed to charge the excess yardage fees. Pay attention to renewal time, and try to renegotiate these fees either out of the contract or to a lower dollar amount for future terms. This will help ensure that if your team does overload the dumpster, the costs are controlled in the future.

If excess yardage is consistent, it may be beneficial to incorporate additional pickups to your weekly schedule or look at a larger dumpster for the site. This process is commonly referred to as “Right-Sizing”. Right-Sizing changes could not only help alleviate excess yardage, but will definitely save your operation money versus paying excess yardage costs.

In conclusion, excess trash production is hopefully a sign of increased business for your operations. If handled appropriately, you can mitigate costs to improve profitability and enjoy the signs of your success.