Waste and Recycling – What’s Behind the Hidden Fees?

Waste Not, Want NotWaste Industry Invoice Illustration

Are you aware of all the fees that make up your waste disposal bill? Many businesses are not, and as a result, pay inaccurate or unwarranted fees. As sustainability and recycling goals become more critical to business operations, waste disposal fees continue to rise. This rise in fees includes the soft cost of added separation that accompanies recycling materials, along with additional landfill fees municipalities are imposing to encourage recycling. Some of these fees are unavoidable, but some can be eliminated from your waste bill by performing a waste audit.

While waste services are necessary, most fees are not. Understanding what factors go into your waste invoice can be daunting and overwhelming. Waste costs will vary by industry, area of operation, waste type, municipal requirements and the volume your business generates. These simple steps will help you better understand your waste invoice, what fees are acceptable and what are not.

How to Read Your Waste Bill  

After looking at your latest waste invoice, you may notice the following fees:

  • Container refresh fee
  • Recycle offset fee
  • Extra yardage fee
  • Regulatory cost fee
  • Administrative fee
  • Environmental fee
  • Variable fuel fee
  • Host fee

Sample invoice of waste industry fees

These could be one-time or recurring fees. All potential fees should be discussed with your waste management company before entering into a service agreement. If an unfamiliar fee does appear on your waste invoice, it’s best to address your concerns with your waste management company and reference your contract for support. Addressing even the smallest details before signing a contract is important to ensure cost avoidance for your business.

Additional fees will vary depending on how much waste your business generated during a given month. A few of these fees are:

  • Additional pickup fee – charges will apply for additional pickups. This fee could consist of the fuel and labor used to pick up your waste and recycling, along with other costs depending on the hauler.
  • Overweight container fee – depending on your waste management company, an additional fee can be charged for containers exceeding the allowed weight limit.
  • Extra container fee – requesting additional container(s) will result in fees for transporting the container(s) with other applicable surcharges. Fees will vary based container size and weight.

How to Spot Fee Increases

When it comes to waste management fees, common questions are: How can I tell which ones are necessary or not? How can I stay on top of these fees and budget accordingly if they are always different? Understanding increasing fees is especially challenging if your business has multiple locations to manage.

The best way to manage increasing waste fees is staying on top of your bill each month. If your business undergoes peak periods, seasonality, remodeling, construction or other non-standard events, evaluate your bill before and after such activity. It’s also important to keep in mind if your service needs vary month-by-month. For example, if you required additional pickups for multiple locations in June, you will incur higher fees. If you look through previous waste invoices, you may notice some fees increasing and some that have accidentally been carried over requiring a credit negotiation.

Tips for Auditing Your Waste Bill  

Typically, waste disposal fees can be confusing and hard to understand. Knowing how to read your waste management bill is important to contain your costs and maximize your business’s potential savings. Without understanding the necessary fees, you could pay unnecessary costs. To prevent these costs your business needs a waste invoice audit. National Waste Associates has nearly 20 years of experience for reviewing waste invoices, and we have found that a triple-check approach is safest for auditing your waste bill. In fact, we’ve calculated that in four out of five cases, unnecessary fees, overcharges and erroneous services are being billed and paid by businesses every day.

It’s important to review your service agreement before signing a contract with a waste management company. If you notice any unfamiliar or questionable fees, they should be mentioned to the waste management company before you enter into a service agreement. Mentioning any questionable fees ahead of time will save you a lot of time, money and hassles.