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The 10 biggest problems facing the waste / recycling industry — and how to solve them

What are the major issues you’re facing? Is it finding and keeping good people? Excessive downtime? Or too many workplace injuries? For every problem there’s a solution. And only a strategic partner with strong waste/recycling experience, can help address these 10 industry pain points.

1. Poorly trained/managed employees

This is a common issue. Most recycling operations are affected sooner or later by poorly trained, under-motivated work staff. The fact is, many of these people have never been properly managed, and don’t understand the expectations or even the basics of their job. That’s why a reputable labor team supplier should always clearly explain job expectations and then actually manage workers. Employees are going to be happy because that’s what they really want, so that they can do a good job, and keep their job.

2. Employee retention

You know the feeling—you come in to work wondering how many employees won’t show up that day—and how that will ultimately affect your productivity. You feel like you’re always playing “catch-up.” To hold on to good people you need to go back to #1—training and managing employees the right way from day one. They also need hope, and that’s why it benefits you to promote from within.

3. Excessive downtime

This can definitely sap your productivity—and employee morale. That’s why each employee should be accountable for their time. They should be ready to go to work, not just punching their timecard, when the machinery is first turned on. Simple procedural changes such as minimizing lengthy phone calls, long lunch breaks and unexplained absences can give you back hours of productive time that were previously lost.

4. Overcoming language/cultural issues

Different cultures speaking multiple languages—that’s the reality of today’s world. Smart workforce suppliers often actively recruit people from throughout the world. They may need to may need to have operations managers who can speak their language. However, this extra effort ultimately pays off with hard working employees.

5. Recruiting employees in areas with low unemployment

With today’s national unemployment rate hovering around 5%, it’s a real challenge to fill all of your available openings. Labor team leaders often do much of the hiring at the actual worksite, not a storefront. This allows prospects to see the setup firsthand and find out if it’s right for them. Another smart solution: recruiting backup pools to fill available openings as soon as they become available.

6. Lack of industry expertise

Nothing beats specific hands-on waste/recycling industry experience. It begins with the equipment. Operations managers need to know how machinery works and how to keep it running. Sometimes a quick fix is all it takes. People skills are equally important. A strong operations manager has to have the respect of the workforce and deal effectively with people with personal and work-related challenges.

7. Poor or nonexistent processes

This is another big industry issue. Without consistent processes, your operation is going to be an under-performer. Look for workforce providers that offer process-driven expertise which streamlines the hiring, on-boarding, training, development and performance measurement of each employee. This lets you focus on the “big picture” issues that will drive your success.

8. Proper employee placement

It sounds simple, but just having employees at the right spot on the line can make a major difference in your productivity. A seasoned manager will observe the speed of the conveyer belt, quality of the recyclables, and the number of available people. There are many variables involved, and operations managers with specific waste/recycling industry experience are best equipped to maximize employee performance.

9. Overcoming poor-quality recyclables

Recyclable quality depends largely on geographic location. For example, Seattle and the rest of the Pacific Northwest is ecologically conscious and the quality of their recyclable materials is generally very high. The quality elsewhere in the country can vary greatly. These days you’ll see just about everything moving down the line, including the kitchen sink. Some of these items (especially garden hoses) can actually get wrapped around equipment and cause real damage. Having knowledgeable onsite operations managers and well trained employees will help you maintain productivity even when the quality of recyclables is low.

10. Improving safety performance

There are significant safety challenges facing the waste/recycling industry. They include chemical exposure, combustible dust explosions, machine guarding hazards, and exposure to powerful equipment with moving parts. Industry leaders always offer a proactive safety approach which begins with an intensive safety compliance audit at every plant and extends to rigorous safety training for all employees to get safety levels up where they need to be.

Looking for strong solutions to your own waste/recycling problems? Contact Leadpoint at (800) 552-3136.

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