As seen in Recycling Today, March 2023 Issue

Upward pressure on wages continues to be a primary concern for the recycling industry in 2023 as it faces ongoing staffing challenges. Over the past two years, Leadpoint has been actively working with clients to provide competitive compensation to its workforce and is beginning to see the benefits through improved staffing levels and better safety performance.

Mike Huycke, Leadpoint’s vice president of business development, sheds insight on current staffing issues and industry trends.

While we believe upward pressure on wages is beginning to soften, maintaining competitive market wages has proven critical to keeping recycling facilities properly staffed. We see it as our responsibility to help customers offset these costs through improved productivity and efficiency of their operation. 

Leadpoint associates working in MRF

Fill Rates

As an employer of a full-time recycling industry workforce, maintaining a stable, safe and productive workforce is vital to achieving operating objectives and profitability goals. Despite creative efforts to address staffing, such as referral recognition, and rewards programs, Leadpoint has found that offering a competitive wage is most crucial.

Leadpoint conducts market-specific wage analysis which looks at the entire candidate and competitor landscape within a 10-15 mile radius of MRF locations. This data is generated across multiple time periods to provide insight on wage trajectory. Valuable compensation data enables Leadpoint to better work with customers to make adjustments and remain competitive. As a result, Leadpoint’s fill rates across its customer network have improved 18 percent year-over-year as of January 2023.

Increased costs associated with higher market wages can be more than offset by the benefits of having a reliable and productive workforce.

Safety Performance

Working in a MRF is a difficult and hazardous environment. Leadpoint attributes improved safety performance to robust training programs, quality onsite leadership and offering competitive wages to attract high-caliber workers. Motivated employees give operators the opportunity to better retain and educate their workforce. Ongoing mentorship by dedicated onsite managers and daily toolbox talks continue to positively impact safety performance. Leadpoint’s TRIR and DART rates were down 16 percent and 33 percent, respectively, year over year at the end of 2022.

Managing Costs

Managing costs and optimizing performance is critical to running a profitable and efficient recycling facility. Labor related costs comprise a large portion of an operating budget. Working with Leadpoint can reduce a company’s overall operating costs through improved fill rates, retention and productivity which is critical in times of increasing wage pressure.

Leadpoint manages the ongoing effort of utilizing market-specific wage analysis to help maintain target staffing levels, as well as providing all employee recruiting, screening, hiring, onboarding, training, onsite supervision, workers compensation risk and claims management, and costs associated with PPE.

A skilled, stable, and safety conscious workforce creates a high performing environment necessary for MRF operators to achieve their goals.

To learn more about how Leadpoint can help support your recycling workforce and operating needs, visit

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