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Outsourcing Cleans Up

Problem: Trash is big business--billion dollar in fact. And schools generate tons of it. So, when co

Problem: It may be dirty, dingy and dusty, ragged, rotten and rusty, but trash is big business--billion dollar in fact. And schools generate tons of it. So, when costs began piling up for the Roseville (Calif.) Joint Union High School District the district decided it needed to clean up. With compactors frequently breaking down, Roseville looked into a lease-maintenance service program and what it found out about its own budget wasn't pretty: the 8,000-student district was knee-deep in operating expenses. The franchise waste hauling company Roseville had used was picking up the compactors regardless of their full capacity to the tune of $300 a "visit." The district was paying thousands of unnecessary dollars. In stepped Dave Hawkyard, owner of Compact-It, Inc., a privately held waste removal and recycling equipment company. He said he could save the district up to 40 percent. And he wasn't just talking trash.

Solution: The Roseville Joint Union High School district had four, large 30-yard compactors that were more than 10 years old and in constant need of repair. Brian Gruchow, director of maintenance and operations for the district, looked for a way to solve this problem and stumbled on Compact-It. Founded in 2001, this Roseville-based company sells, rents and leases waste removal and recycling equipment as well as maintaining that equipment. After a free assessment, Roseville found not only was the district overpaying on waste haulers but it also didn't need to own the compactors. They could be leased.

"Due to the very expensive cost of new compactors," says Gruchow, "their high maintenance and repair cost, and their somewhat short useful life of eight to 10 years, it wasn't feasible to purchase and own these expensive compactors." With rentals of $2,100 per month for each compactor, Roseville ended up saving 20 percent to 30 percent, on average.

The savings don't end there

Hawkyard, who had been employed by a large franchise, knew a lot about trash and how to tailor systems to suit his customer's needs. He designed a three-fold system for Roseville. First, Compact-It installed brand-new trash compactors on the four high school campuses. "A new compactor usually reduces the bill by around half," said Hawkyard. They compress better allowing more trash to fill the baler.

Second, trash compactor fullness monitors were installed, indicating when the devices were ready to be emptied. "This device sends our office a fax telling us the compactor are full," said Gruchow. "We then call the waste company to have them pick up only full compactors, not half-full." Immediately the district's waste hauling was reduced to two to three pick-ups a month, cutting the monthly bill from $4,500 to $3,000. Roseville also had cart tippers installed so the custodians didn't have to hand unload their trash carts.

But that still wasn't it. Using Hawkyard's recommendations, the district figured out a way to make money while saving at the same time. Since approximately 30 percent to 40 percent of its waste was actually cardboard, the district began removing the cardboard from the garbage thrown into its own baler, thus further reducing the amount of trash hauled to the landfill. Then the district called on GreenFiber, a recycling company that buys and recycles the cardboard for a cash return. Trash became a business for Roseville too, bringing in about $350 a month.

According to Gruchow, most schools have not fully realized the savings potential in waste. "In education our goal is to put as much money as we can into the classroom," he says. "You do everything you can to reduce your costs so you fully increase the quality of service to your customers, which are your kids."

Hawkyard couldn't agree more. He says he believes education budgets get unnecessarily slashed for more high-profile projects. "I am for the underdog. These poor schools don't have that much money anymore. The [large] garbage companies say, 'Well this is what you're going to pay,' and I say, 'Here's another solution.' "

Karen Pasacreta is a freelance writer based in Milford, Conn.