Welcome to the Haul of Fame, a weekly series from Rubicon in which we sit down with a hauler partner to talk about their company, their community, and how they are collaborating with Rubicon in our mission to end waste.
As our nation continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the men and women at companies like these are on the front lines, continuing to drive their daily routes and keeping our communities safe and clean. Their work is the linchpin to safeguarding the public health and we thank them, now more than ever, for providing this essential service to our society.
Western Disposal, headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, is a waste and recycling hauler offering containers, roll-offs, front ends, read load, and composting services in Boulder, Broomfield, and the neighboring counties in Colorado. Founded in 1970, Western Disposal has been working with Rubicon since 2008.
Western Disposal’s Community Relations Manager, Kathy Carroll, sat down with Rubicon to talk about her company and mission for the Haul of Fame.
How does Rubicon’s mission to end waste match-up to Western Disposal’s own company mission?
Western Disposal: Western Disposal’s mission is to provide services and information so customers can responsibly manage their waste. This translates into trash, recycling, and compost collection services coupled with waste diversion education, information, and resources. In addition to collection services, we offer construction and demolition recycling services, and a drop-off site for dimensional lumber, yard waste, and scrap metal recycling.
We’re committed to making sure folks have the information they need to do the right thing, so even if we don’t directly provide the services, such as for hazardous waste, electronics, or hard to recycle materials, we make sure our customers know where to take it. We host a “Waste Wizard” app on our website where users can enter any item or material they need to manage, and it returns information so they can dispose of it responsibly.
How does Western Disposal distinguish itself from the competition?
Western Disposal: Being local and minding the details makes a huge difference in terms of the responsiveness and quality of service we are able to provide to our customers.
Let’s say you’re in a pinch and need quick service—like right away. No matter where you are in our service area, chances are we’ve got a truck nearby and can get you taken care of. Bad weather? No problem—we’re close by, we’ll be there.
Then there’s size. While 150 employees isn’t small, we are small compared to the national companies. Every customer matters to us. It’s our service standard to resolve issues on the first contact; customers don’t get bounced around in a call center. And you’re serviced by people who live and work in the same community. It’s friendly, it’s personal.
We’re reliable, we show up on time and we clean up after ourselves. We’re a customer-centric organization that understands that all the “little things” add up to a great customer experience.
What is the view of Western Disposal when it comes to participating in the circular economy and helping build a more sustainable future?
Western Disposal: We are continuously looking for ways to expand the types of materials that can be diverted from the landfill and be directed to their highest and best re-use.
There is a significant manufacturing base in this area, and we are frequently called upon to advise customers on options for diverting unique waste streams. We’re also building a new materials management center, which will increase the space we have for sorting and storing recyclable material.
From a business operations perspective, we invest in equipment and technologies to minimize our impact on the environment. In 2010, we began transitioning to an all-natural gas fleet. That transition is now complete and we are emitting 900 fewer metric tons of CO2 per year than a decade ago. In 2020, we entered into an agreement with the city of Boulder to purchase renewable natural gas—a product of their wastewater treatment facility. Sixty-five percent of our fleet is fueled by this renewable resource.
Ninety percent of the electricity used to power our facilities is renewably sourced with wind and locally generated solar power. Our routing software improves safety, reduces vehicle miles driven, and reduces fuel usage, along with our carbon footprint. Western Disposal has had ongoing PACE certification, a measure of overall commercial environmental stewardship, for 10 years.
What is one of the oddest items or the largest amount of something you have ever been asked to compost?
Western Disposal: We’ve composted roll-offs full of damaged barley from a local brewery, delivered slurry from a tofu factory to a cattle ranch in Brighton, Colorado, and supplied chipped wood waste to feedlots to mix with manure for composting.
I’d say one of the most interesting situations was working through requirements when marijuana was first legalized in the state of Colorado. There was a proliferation of commercial growers who, because of the city of Boulder ordinance, were required to compost their waste. Initially, we collected and composted it just like any other organic material. But eventually, the state had to step in and regulate disposal because “dumpster diving” for the scraps got a bit out of hand. Legislation was passed requiring that containers be mixed 50 percent with non-marijuana material, and most growers started using soil to meet this requirement.
What do you love most about the community in which you work, and the customers you serve?
Western Disposal: Our customers are curious and enthusiastic. This amazing community has what I would describe as a collective passion for doing the right thing when it comes to managing their waste. As a communications person, it’s a delight; customers are engaged with our message and I never run out of topics to cover!
Where does Western Disposal see itself five years from now?
Western Disposal: With 50 years under our belt, we’ll keep doing the things that underpin our success; laser-focusing on customer satisfaction, striving to improve every day, and continuing to partner with our customers, the community, and city and county governments to reduce waste through services innovation. It sounds simple but bringing that perspective to our business keeps us on a constantly evolving path. There truly is never a dull moment.
Chris Watts is Sr. Director of Innovation and Hauler Relations at Rubicon. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.