COVID-19 – Preparing for the Second Wave

In this article, we look at some of the lessons learned from the first wave of the pandemic and our experts provide their advice for what to do going forward to prepare your waste operations for a potential second wave.

But before we start, what exactly is a second wave?

A second wave is the true recurrence of the widespread community transmission of COVID-19. As states have reopened, there has been an inevitable increase in transmission, but that alone doesn’t make for a second wave. Only when that increase is sustained over 14 days is a state classified as having entered into a second wave.

Lessons Learned From the First Wave

During the first wave, businesses learned the following key lessons in order to optimally manage their waste operations during this period:

  • Volumes and waste schedules changed incredibly quick, so it was important to optimize pickups and service schedules to save money.
  • If waste volumes fell, service levels needed to be dropped to match.
  • Some sectors saw an increase in business during the first wave, with waste volumes increasing as a result. In these cases, service levels needed to be increased to accommodate this.
  • Service times often needed to be altered to match new peak business times.
  • Pro-rate billing had to be negotiated to match the temporary service schedules.
  • Legislation changed rapidly, so it was vital to have a compliance team to keep the organization in check.

Preparing For a Second Wave

If you are managing your organization’s waste management operations internally, our experts have provided their guidance as to how you can prepare your business for a potential second wave:

Plan, Plan, Plan

With crises, the old adage is true; to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Putting the time into planning out the details before a crisis can give you a serious edge and the responsiveness you need when the time comes.

Start by analyzing what occurred in the first wave across all of your sites:

  • Did waste volumes increase or decrease? What did you need to do to balance that?
  • Did you need to increase or decrease pickup schedules? If so, how responsive was your hauler to those changes? How far in advance will you need to provide them with notice if a second wave hits?
  • Did peak times change and if so, how did your waste service schedules have to change to reflect this? Again, how responsive was your hauler to the changes and how will you communicate service time change requirements to ensure that this runs smoothly in the event of a second wave?
  • Was your hauler pro-active in recommending changes and reducing or increasing service levels? If not, start a dialogue with them now and request that they provide you with a plan for how they will react better the second time around.
  • Were your invoices pre-rate to reflect these changes? If not, communicate your expectations to your hauler now so that you don’t suffer from billing issues later.

Your plan should include the steps you took when the shelter-in-place occurred as well as when your business began returning to normal.

Planning in advance also includes having a clearly defined list of responsibilities and appointing personnel to complete the following key tasks once the second wave hits. This should include delegating the following tasks:

  • Analyzing service change requirements and timeframes (remember, these may be increases or decreases).
  • Coordinating and confirm service changes with all relevant parties. *
  • Tracking all legislative changes and reporting those changes to all departments.

These roles may also be given the responsibility of following up on the effect of the changes they have implemented, with a particular focus on the financial repercussions, and the operational success of the initiatives.

* As service changes are implemented, make sure that pricing remains fair!

Urgency and Clear Communication are Key

Haulers will be overwhelmed, and markets and states will be inundated with requests during this time. Make sure that your team has current contact details for all your vendors readily available.

Reach out to all of your vendors and let them know that service change requirements may come through quickly, and that action will need to be taken ASAP. Provide , in advance ,a list of the services that you expect will need to be reduced or increased based on the first wave, so that they are prepared to meet your needs. If you previously added or removed containers, this should also be communicated.

All of the branches, affiliates and locations in your report should be notified of the appointed personnel to contact during this period. Clearly define the protocols so that the response can be as fast as is necessary to manage rapidly changing conditions.

Ensure Constant Compliance

Keep track of all legislative changes during the second wave, and for when business and service levels start to return to normal.

Make sure that your operations are ready to respond at a local level and not just a state or federal level. Many of the earlier and current restrictions are being driven and imposed by county and municipal governments. These may change daily so it is important to monitor this on an ongoing basis.

Returning to Normal

Where possible, coordinate a start-back date for your vendors to reinstate normal service levels. You will need to follow up with all necessary parties to manage the reinstatement of normal service. *

* As service levels return to normal, ensure that pricing stays consistent and in line with what you were paying before the changes were instated!

What NWA Does For Our Customers

National Waste Associates is a full-service waste management company, providing complete coverage to our customers. While a waste broker will leave you to plan through all of the logistics of preparing for a second wave by yourself, our experts will take all these headaches away and ensure that your waste operations run smoothly, cost-effectively, and in full compliance during any crisis.

Are you ready to ride a second wave? Contact our team today!
Call us at 1-888-692-5005, or email and ensure you’re prepared.