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Taking out the waste in facility maintenance

September 19, 2010
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While keeping trash under control isn’t the only priority of facility, maintenance and property managers, it is a job that cannot be overlooked.

Simply put, the public expects a clean experience and nothing will get their attention quicker than overflowing, unkempt trashcans.

Modern receptacles

Facility managers have traditionally had to choose between undersized trashcans, which require frequent emptying, ugly “oil barrels” and costly concrete or wrought-iron containers.

Today, larger, more durable, and aesthetic waste receptacles are allowing facilities to stretch their staffing and maintenance budgets, while keeping facilities cleaner and more appealing than ever.

There are many drawbacks of traditional trash containers.

Because most are offered in a 30- to 40-gallon size, they require extra labor and trips to empty.

The added work can overtax busy facility staff, distract them from important repairs/preventive maintenance and require the hiring of additional staff.

Such labor is multiplied by container designs that require extra steps, such as removing/replacing a lid or failing to provide for automation where appropriate.

Poor showing
Durability and aesthetics have also been a problem.

Single layer, injection-molded cans may slice all the way down when cracked or punctured.

These receptacles can also melt, peel or fade in summer heat or winter cold.

Metal containers tend to scratch and rust and concrete containers stain.

These types of trashcans remain unsightly unless continually maintained or until replaced, which adds considerable expense.

The limitations of typical trash containers have facility managers looking to more cost-effective, aesthetic alternatives.

Two facilities think long-term
Though proactive in his management approach, Clint Campbell, a food services facilities manager for California State University, Long Beach, faced a dilemma.

With 5,000 transactions per day in Campbell’s food service areas, the 30-gallon cabinet-style trashcans the college used tended to overflow before the maintenance staff could complete their rounds.

The door flap covering the interior bin also tended to break off and the units looked weathered from being outside.

Other open cans allowed birds to get into the trash and make a mess.

“We either had to add more staff or solve the problem with a different type of trash receptacle,” says Campbell. “Typical plastic cans didn’t provide longevity, cement was costly and heavy to move, and metal oil barrels are too unattractive.”

Campbell turned to a modern, 58-gallon receptacle.

“They allow existing staff to work through the buildings and have eliminated any problem of overflow,” says Campbell.

According to Campbell, this receptacle’s unique four-opening design makes it easy for the public to dispose of trash from any angle — more ends up in the can and less on the ground.

The domed top and mold-in gutters over entry points also provide protection from garbage-seeking birds, animals and the elements.

This prevents water from collecting inside the container or bag.

When Adventure Aquarium opened its 200,000-square-foot facility in Camden, NJ, creating a welcoming experience and a safe, clean facility was a priority.

Choosing the right trash container to facilitate this goal was an important decision, according to Kevin Keppel, director of Guest Relations.

“The right trash container has to withstand rain, snow, sleet, heat and humidity and still look good,” says Keppel. “It has to stay upright when 50-mph winds blow off the river. It has to be cost-effective and easy to service, since the receptacles would be emptied by hand.”

To avoid labor-intensive servicing, Keppel wanted to avoid heavy containers, those with lids that had to be removed and set aside and those with cumbersome chains.

Keppel, like Campbell, chose an attractive, durable container that utilizes modern technology.
Today, both facilities maintain attractive trashcans without the intense maintenance needs of traditional receptacles.


James Louderback is vice president of Roto Industries, the only company in the United States to offer a complete line of rotational molded products for the refuse and recycling industry. Louderback is based in Anaheim, CA.
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