Tonnage Optimization: Why Your Business Needs Someone Watching Your Weights

We often talk about the importance of bringing down the total volume of waste that your business produces, but when your sites have compactors and containers that are serviced on a regular basis, then your waste management partner should be actively working to bring those individual weights up. We look at this process, known as load optimization, or tonnage management, to see why it’s so important for your operations.

Why is Load Optimization so Important?

When they’re not being actively managed, site waste practices are generally less than optimal. Containers get filled quickly and without thought for how to achieve the optimal tonnage before they’re full to the brim and needing collection, meaning that many are full of air and not waste material.

Meanwhile, haulers will often put containers on collection frequencies that are too regular. This makes your account more valuable to them, because they can invoice for more hauls, even though weights per haul are sub-optimal. Many haulers have a standard cost per collection, regardless of whether your container weighs 1 ton, or 4 tons.

Over time and across your entire portfolio, these inefficiencies add up and can cause you to pay thousands more than you should in waste disposal costs.
Load optimization brings down your costs by increasing haulage efficiency, while also ensuring that your sites run at an optimal level that prevents issues with under or overfilled containers.

How NWA Optimizes Loads For Our Customers

Calculating Optimal Container Weights

National Waste Associates (NWA) uses its proprietary tonnage management system to compare container tonnages against the optimal weights.

We start by identifying the primary materials that are going into each container. Sometimes this might just consist of one material, like metal or wood, but in other instances, sites may dispose of a mix of materials into one container. Then we’ll identify those that contribute towards the greatest proportion of the total weight.

Once we’ve identified the primary material types, we use our proprietary data to calculate the average weight per cubic yard based on the material densities, and how closely those materials can be packed.

We then run an algorithm that considers the container size and dimensions to provide us with an optimal weight.

Ongoing Tonnage Management

Our account management team constantly reviews the performance of the permanent containers on our customers’ sites, comparing achieved tonnages against these optimal weights.

On a monthly basis, our customers receive a report that shows which containers are meeting optimal weight, which are exceeding, and which are within a ton variance. The report also shows the tonnage trends across the entire account.

If an individual container is producing sub-optimal weights, then we will reduce the collection frequency to a level that we calculate will bring tonnage up to optimal weight. We then monitor this service level transition to ensure that the tonnage goal is reached without creating any service issues.

In situations where containers are pulling good weights we may look at increasing the size of container or type of system (Roll- Off to Compaction) to bring down hauling costs.

At our quarterly business review meetings, we drill into the tonnage performance with our customers, taking an in-depth look at how the tons per haul and total number of hauls are improving over time.

By keeping such a close eye on our customers’ waste activity, tonnage reports soon show the majority of containers to be within a ton variance of the optimal level, creating aggregate savings of thousands of dollars for their business.

And with fewer trucks servicing sites, we are actively reducing the carbon footprint of their waste operations and improving site safety at these locations.

Another result of our tonnage optimization program is that we may identify a material that is being disposed of to waste, that could be recycled for a lesser cost – or a rebate. In this instance, we work directly with the individual location to get this valuable material working harder for our customers to save them money.

Reviewing Excessive Weights

While we’re working to get all permanent containers to hit their optimal tonnages, we also check to make sure that none are excessively heavy.

Just as underweight containers are a sign that there are efficiencies to be made in the waste management operations, excessively overweight containers are also a sign that something isn’t right. It could be that unintentional materials are being discarded into the container, or that there is unauthorized use, or misuse of the container.

Where this occurs on a regular basis, our Account Manager investigates these instances with the individual location and works to resolve the underlying issue.


When your operations generate large volumes of waste, it really pays to have someone actively watching your weights. And with regular reporting, NWA gives you total transparency into the work we’re doing to bring your hauls down and your tonnages up.
Our proprietary tonnage optimization program saves our customers thousands of dollars off their disposal bills, while helping the environment by eliminating unnecessary hauls and diverting valuable materials from landfill.

Tired of sub-optimal waste management programs? Let us optimize them for you! Contact us at 1-888-692-5005, or email us at

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