Where IoT Meets Waste Management

Waste Harmonics
Written by Pauline Muller

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention, and urban living increasingly challenges us with the need for responsible recycling. This is even truer within the business sphere…
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For organizations with facilities in numerous states, navigating office-based waste removal and recycling can become a very expensive and complex process when handled in-house. Managed-waste service provider Waste Harmonics takes the weight of waste management off its clients’ shoulders throughout fifty U.S. states and five Canadian provinces.

With Waste Harmonics, companies can focus on business and forget about waste management. The company is based in Victor, New York just outside Rochester and takes advantage of more than eighteen years in the industry to concentrate on providing simplified, consolidated systems and excellent service.

“We take the burden off our clients and bring our expertise into their organization. We manage all the coordination of services and the invoices that they would otherwise have to take care of,” says President and Chief Executive Officer Michael S. Hess.

Instead of contracting a different waste management company in each of its locations, large companies can partner with Waste Harmonics as its integrated system enables simplified record-keeping and consistent service across multiple locations. Its services make life a lot easier for big organizations that want to know that their waste is being responsibly disposed of, but really have better things to do with their time than coordinating and tracking multiple service providers across various offices.

Waste Harmonics has an impressive customer retention rate since customers benefit from having minimized invoicing and no equipment requirements. It started in seventh place on New York State’s Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce list of top one hundred fastest-growing companies in 2015. The company jumped to number two in 2017 and has managed to hold its position in 2018.

Once a client is are ready to sign up, the company’s customer care group and relationship management team step in to arrange for service to begin. “It is important for us to share with our clients that we are a high-touch organization. We want to share our values with them and how we view our client relationships,” says Michael. This transition occurs with as little disruption to clients’ operations as possible, and while these two departments remain customers’ go-to support throughout the relationship, company leadership is always ready to engage with customers too.

The company is deploying new internet-of-things (IoT) technology called iWaste that includes monitoring systems on dumpsters, waste compactors, and balers. It generates useful data that provides better control over the company’s processes and enables the company to manage its vendors and customers’ costs more effectively.

The Waste Harmonics method is simple. It contracts all the necessary service providers, coordinates them on behalf of the client, collects audits, and pays each location’s service provider directly. It then gives the customer a single invoice.

“We introduced the iWaste technology platform to the market to fulfill a number of functions. Firstly, it shows us what is happening on site, how our units are operating, what is happening with the switches inside of the trash compactors and whether there are any faults that need to be addressed. We can even do remote troubleshooting,” says Michael.

From this, it has developed standalone technology that can be mounted onto third-party equipment to fulfill a similar purpose. The company has also developed a smaller monitor that allows it to track and manage smaller dumpsters throughout the day. It handles all service level changes, client relocations, new location additions, and rubble removal on temporary construction.

It even offers a recycle option called Eco2Go for companies with recycling volumes too low to warrant curbside collection. A recyclable cardboard container is shipped to customers who then fill it with their recyclable waste. When the box is full, it is sealed and sent to the nearest recycling facility via courier. Delivery is pre-arranged by Waste Harmonics, so all the participating company has to do is drop the box at its nearest UPS store with all its other parcels, and the cost is all included in the upfront fee.

For zero landfill outcomes, the company typically reroutes waste that would traditionally be headed for landfill toward waste energy facilities instead. Here, waste is incinerated to generate electricity. Alternatively, where clients have large volumes of recyclable materials, ‘zero landfill’ would mean diverting such waste to an appropriate recycling facility.

Waste Harmonics came into its own when Michael purchased the business from a previous employer in 2001. At the time of purchase, the business was mainly based in the Northeastern U.S. and was small, with around $1.5 million in annual revenue.

“When the industry’s largest waste hauler bought its largest waste broker in 2011, we knew that it was a watershed moment for us. We realized that many companies using managed-waste service providers wouldn’t be keen on having their services managed by a hauler again. This is when we stepped up our capabilities and started managing these services on a national basis,” says Michael. Waste Harmonics’ hunch paid off, and the company is moving ever closer to the $100 million revenue mark.

To ensure that its high standards are maintained throughout the organization, the company employs people skilled in top-notch customer service. “We choose people who are energized by helping folks. All over our offices, we display three terms: acknowledge, respond, and follow up. Our staff is trained to follow this procedure on every client engagement. This has proven to be very successful,” says Michael.

Its growth has largely been organic, with selected acquisitions improving its capabilities from time to time. “We only ever consider quality operations that align with how we work and our customer profile,” he adds.

In the coming two years, Waste Harmonics is committed to introducing its iWaste technologies to the American market. Before achieving this goal, however, the company must complete the testing phases of its commercial version. In practice, this means that iWaste will go from a few hundred units in the field to tens of thousands of units entering the market, annually.

“Nobody else in the industry has this capability. Releasing our technology platform on this scale will give us and our clients a great deal of information about what is happening in every waste system on a daily basis in real time,” says Michael with palpable excitement.

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