Weather affects everything and our industry is no different. In fact, weather has a significant impact on the solid waste industry and is impacted much more than you may think. Our industry is dependent upon transportation and the weather can wreak havoc on transportation. Extremes in both temperature and precipitation can affect you personally as well. How weather can affect you and your dumpster rental will be addressed here today.
I’m going to tell you a story that happened to us recently during our most recent “Polar Vortex” here in New Jersey. We hit a cold snap that saw temperature extremes as low as -2 Fahrenheit. After almost a week of consistently bitter temperatures, the cold began taking effect on our trucks. One Monday morning, a driver reported to me that the brakes were “frozen”. This happens in the winter and I told the driver how to resolve the problem and to report back to me how he made out. He reported back that he was able to free the brake and begin his route for the day.
The next day he reported the same problem. But this time he said it a little differently. The brakes weren’t frozen, the actual brake lines had frozen solid and the brake pedal was frozen up! On the second day, it took almost an hour for it to thaw. On day three, the same driver started the truck and let it warm up, but when he depressed the clutch pedal, the master cylinder exploded because the fluid had frozen solid! My mechanic says he has never seen that happen and he has been a mechanic for over 25 years. On this particular day, one customer had to wait all day for what he had anticipated was going to be a morning delivery. There was nothing I could do to change that for him at that point.
During cold snaps, the garbage inside dumpsters tends to freeze inside the dumpster creating what we affectionately call a “garbagecicle”. When this happens, the drivers have to scrape and chip the garbage out of the dumpster. Sometimes the facility has a machine available to help us, sometimes they don’t and we have to do it by hand. On days like these, it can take hours to empty a dumpster sufficiently enough to be rented to someone else. This is time consuming and creates huge scheduling problems for garbage companies. On really bad days, it is so time consuming, it is impossible to dump the containers necessary to complete the work. On days such as this, some people may not get their dumpster rental until the next day. Now these types of days are rare, but they do occur.
Now how does this impact you as a consumer? Well, if a truck breaks the company has to re-assign the work that the disabled truck was responsible for. Usually this is accomplished by taking the route apart by pieces and assigning those pieces to other trucks operating in the surrounding areas. You may have had a morning delivery scheduled, it may not arrive until afternoon now. You may have scheduled your day around waiting for the delivery of the dumpster. You may be in for a long wait now. Maybe you took a half a day off of work. You may be taking a whole day now.
Now imagine if you have a crew on site waiting to load the dumpster. The scheduling problems it could cause can continue to ripple for quite some time. During bad weather of any kind, traffic moves slower. Our job is dependent upon the highways used by everyone else including you. Think about you traveling in bad weather. It is difficult and much more time consuming. It is the same for us.
Another way weather can impact your rental is on the pickup. If it snows during your rental, you are responsible for clearing a path to the dumpster wide enough for the truck to service the dumpster. Many times, we arrive at a customer’s site only to find that the snow from somewhere was piled in front of the dumpster. In cases such as this, we have to leave the container until access to the container is supplied. This could lead to additional fees for the rental depending upon your hauler.
So what can you do to minimize the weather related risks associated with dumpster rentals?
Plan your rental around major weather events. If they are calling for a blizzard, call to have your dumpster removed prior to the storm. If there is a lot of rain in the forecast, have your dumpster propped up in the front to assist in drainage. Plan ahead and avoid problems before the arise. Have your dumpster delivered a day BEFORE you need it to avoid problems.
I hope this helps you understand how weather affects trucking and the garbage industry.