Route optimization in solid waste management has implications that are not only financial in nature, but also environmental. Solid waste in municipal areas is generated as a direct result of urbanization and is becoming more and more of a threat to the environment.

If not handled appropriately, it can lead to major issues in the future. In undeveloped countries the health implications of poor waste disposal are obvious, but in first world nations, we don’t often think of the other consequences.

The Problem

We tend to think of urbanization in a largely positive light because it brings with it a cultural and economic improvement. However, many cities are growing rapidly and often expand beyond their planned boundaries.

This generates the problem of enormous quantities of solid waste to dispose of and extra vehicles being utilized to collect it all. Even in first world nations, municipalities lack funds and use outdated technology and methods of garbage collection. This can lead to old, longer routes being used and unnecessary trips being made.

The Process

It’s important in a municipality’s solid waste management operation that collecting and hauling costs are decreased. This can be done partly by route optimization. Studies have shown that the collection of municipal solid waste accounts for 85% of the total cost of the entire waste management operation. The entire operation is made up of waste generating, collecting, transferring, processing and disposal.

Most municipalities’ solid waste management systems involve collecting solid waste from locations such as residences and manufacturing plants and taking them to a single point or two known as garbage collection centers.

The accumulated waste then finally gets taken to landfill or waste disposal sites. We know that the cost of this is directly proportional to the distances being traveled. It’s absolutely necessary then to minimize the number of empty miles along the collection routes.

The Benefits of Optimization

If collecting can be optimized, then big savings in terms of money and environmental damage can be reaped. It will bring economic benefits regarding savings in fuel and vehicle costs, along with the environmental benefits that will result will be fewer exhaust emissions, less noise pollution, fewer traffic jams, saving on fossil fuels and so on.

Other advantages are the higher quality of life for city dwellers, savings on vehicle wear and tear, and savings on road wear and tear by the heavy trucks.

Route Optimization Consultants Can Help

How do you know if you need help with optimizing your routes? You definitely need help if your last reroute was more than five years ago, as well as, if your crews don’t have designated route boundaries and if they don’t have maps in some form or other. Waste routing is hugely complex, and it can be challenging to find one application that will handle all the types of waste routing.

Our team sometimes use different ones for different stages of an optimization project. For instance, we may use one software for the first phase, and a different software for the next phase. If you’re looking to optimize your waste collection operation, let the experts at Route Optimization Consultants help you determine the best way forward.