So what exactly does a solid waste management consultant do?

When I first introduce myself to someone in a business setting and am asked what I do, the answer doesn’t necessarily paint a clear picture of my job. Not that I haven’t spent many nights laying in bed, many mornings in the wet think tank (otherwise known as the shower), and many Tristate Business Network meetings trying to come up with a clearer, more concise explanation. So until the big anvil in the sky lands on my head with that answer, I will respond that I’m a solid waste management consultant. And then when I’m met with the expected quizzical look, I’ll elaborate.

My company looks at our clients’ solid waste and recycling systems and finds ways to dispose of this material in a more cost-efficient manner. Anything that goes in a Dumpster, compactor, or a recycling container is costing bottom-line dollars to be removed. Sometimes companies are very good at having this stuff picked up for a low cost. But most of the time, they aren’t.

Many years ago – or if the company is brand new, a few weeks or months ago – someone at the company called one of the local waste hauling companies, told them that they needed trash service, and presto! Equipment was put into place, and a monthly invoice started arriving in the mail. A check has been getting cut every 30 days since then, and as long as there isn’t trash overflowing from the recepticals, everyone’s happy. Especially the trash hauler.

Trash haulers are terrific companies that provide jobs to the community and essential services to their clients.  I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not have an agenda to insult or belittle anyone associated with these companies or what they do. My company couldn’t exist without them. But the reason my company is in business is because an estimated 90 percent of companies overpay by an average of 30 to 50 percent what they really need to be paying to have trash and recyclables removed from their facilities. A lot of companies tolerate this (why, I don’t know). But most really don’t know this profit-leaking is taking place.

Why is this? It’s simple. Trash removal is never a core competency for any company outside of the trash hauling industry. It’s the guy on a unicycle at the circus that features a high-wire act and a trapeeze. You see him do his thing, but bring on the Wallendas!

The monthly invoice arrives, it gets paid. As long as there’s no trash on the ground by the Dumpsters and there’s money in the bank account, no questions are asked. And that’s how waste hauling has become a multi-billion dollar business. Waste Management, the largest player in the solid waste services industry, had well over 13 billion dollars of revenue alone last year. Granted, a large portion of that is residential service. But assuming that even just a quarter of that revenue is business generated (and that’s being VERY conservative), and taking the mininum overpayment average of 30 percent, businesses are overpaying for this service by about a billion dollars every year.

Waste removal is one of those things that’s kind of like breathing: everyone knows it takes place, but no one really thinks too much about it. Which is why a consultant specifically trained to help contain these costs has a very positive effect on the bottom line. And when you consider that our company only gets paid if we are able to provide cost reductions, and that we just simply share the savings that’s generated, we are a risk-free bargain!

So in what ways can my company save a client money? I will blog about that sometime next week!

Trip Topken is the president of Waste Auditing Consultants, the premiere solid waste management consultants in the Greater Cincinnati area. An affiliate of Environmental Waste Solutions, WAC can help any company spending $400 to $375,000 per month on waste and recycling. Savings of 30 to 50 percent are normal, but not guaranteed. WAC, in collaberation with EWS, can simultaneously produce results at all locations across North America. No up-front fees are ever due, and WAC simply shares the savings its work generates. Learn more about Waste Auditing Consultants here. You can contact Trip at (513) 398-2117 or email


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