Nationwide Chain of Senior Living Facilities Bucks 10-Year Trend of Increasing Waste Disposal Costs
With over 300 communities spanning 43 states, managing the waste generated by Holiday Retirement Senior Living is a daunting task.
Robert Briody, senior buyer of procurement services for the company, provides some context. “Our overarching goals are to create a common baseline of expectations from our wastedisposal vendors, to continually monitor and optimize the services they provide us, and to manage waste service contracts and billing in as efficient a ma nner as possible,” he explains. “But each of our facilities has a unique service-level needs relative to several factors, including its size, the number of residents it serves, and locality-specific recycling and composting mandates.”
Focusing on those challenges—and procuring some third-party assistance to overcome them—has helped the company reduce waste expenses by 13 percent at impacted sites, even as the national average cost of those services has climbed 28 percent over the past decade.
OUTSOURCED WASTE SERVICE MANAGEMENT PAYS DIVIDENDS
Briody says resident quality of life is his first priority. “At the community level, we have an obligation to make waste disposal seamless for our residents and efficient for the staff that serves them.” However without a concerted management effort in place, Holiday Retirement was exposed to a number of problematic and costly scenarios:
- Inaccurate service levels resulted in the pick-up of partially empty or overflowing dumpsters, both of which created excess expense
- Resolving time intensive service and billing issues
- Negotiating contracts with waste service providers that often had the upper hand in industry knowledge
- Risk of fines and reputational damage if found out of compliance with an increasing volume of municipal recycling and composting mandates
Recognizing that internal bandwidth constraints and a lack of expertise were resulting in inefficient waste services procurement and oversight, and possibly mandate noncompliance, Holiday Retirement contracted with Ecova. Today, the company’s waste service bills are paid directly by Ecova and continuously monitored for accuracy, ensuring compliance with negotiated rates and service levels. Bill payment data is foundational to numerous wins at Holiday Retirement, including right-sized waste disposal, zero-waste consulting, and new service compliance.
Ecova’s call center is the single point of contact for Holiday Retirement facility managers. In the event of service disruptions, managers simply call or send an email to Ecova, which handles resolution with the appropriate waste disposal services provider. To Briody’s delight, those issues are commonly resolved without hitting his desk. “Our sites contact the Ecova Service Center directly with any waste disposal issue,” he says. “That allows me to avoid tactical firefighting and focus on more strategic initiatives.”
The Ecova services that Holiday Retirement leverages are also resulting in continuous cost savings and sustainability gains. Briody estimates that without zero waste consulting, the recycling footprint at Holiday Retirement would be some 50% smaller than it is today. That’s an important measure for a company that operates dozens of facilities in highly regulated New England and West Coast states. “Without Ecova’s oversight of state, county, and municipality-level mandates, we wouldn’t have the resources necessary to meet continuously evolving regulatory requirements,” explains Briody.
When new regulations are announced, Ecova identifies each affected site and extends the appropriate waste diversion and training programs well in advance of compliance deadlines. “Complying with mandates requires a significant behavioral change on the part of our community managers and facilities staff,” says Briody. “Working with Ecova, we develop the protocols that enable change, without increasing the workload of associates or impacting the lifestyles of customers.”
HERO STATUS ACHIEVED THROUGH WASTE SERVICE SAVINGS
Across all of its facilities, Holiday Retirement spends approximately $2.6 million annually on waste disposal. “While waste disposal rates are generally on the increase nationwide, we’ve achieved cost savings in the double-digit percentages since partnering with Ecova,” says Briody. Much of that savings is attributed to professional management of contract negotiations and service-level optimization, which have effectively offset inflation and thwarted “service creep” at Holiday Retirement. “Because Ecova pays our waste disposal bills directly, haulers are eager to resolve the service-level issues and billing discrepancies that Ecova identifies,” explains Briody. “And when Ecova waste audits identify opportunities for efficiency and sustainability improvements at specific facilities, we’re able to quickly exploit those efficiencies on a larger scale by rolling them out to other communities with similar footprints.”
As the responsible and efficient management of waste plays a more prominent role in the collective corporate conscience, it’s getting more attention from stakeholders across a variety of industries. In fact, a full 60 percent of energy, sustainability, facility and finance professionals say waste management is applicable to them. And because it’s applicable to them, those stakeholders take notice when a hero like Briody steps up to the plate.