Waste Management for Grocers During Storm Season

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Waste Management for Grocers During Storm Season

By Michael Hess - 10/12/2018
Waste Management for Grocers During Storm Season
In the area of waste preparation, grocers must have in place a proper work process to stay ahead of the game

While the warm sun and crystal-clear nights of fall are pleasant, it’s important to remember that hurricane season still has a few weeks to go. Capable of stretching nearly 300 miles wide, with potential winds of 150-plus miles per hour, hurricanes have the ability to cripple states both large and small that aren’t properly equipped for such natural disasters. 

A key cornerstone for any community before, during and after a hurricane is the local grocer. A grocery store not only provides food for the public but, if prepared properly, is also a symbol of stability and perseverance for everyone facing the fierce elements surrounding them.

However, while many grocers plan for how they will manage customers, employees and overall operations in the event of a hurricane, waste management can take a back seat, often resulting in costly repercussions. Keeping waste management near the forefront of storm preparation discussions is a small task that will pay off big when the storm settles, enabling you to get your stores back open as quickly as possible once the hurricane subsides.

Process is Priority

With multiple major storms having already hit the United States, 2018 is expected to rack up double-digit hurricane totals. When these affect your grocery operation, proactivity is the foundation for keeping your stores prepared.

Being caught off guard is no longer an excuse for not having your store in order. Grocery owners and operators have seen the effects of storms such as Sandy, Harvey and, most recently, Florence. However, many warnings pre-empted the effects of these disasters.

When it comes to waste preparation, identify a proper work process to stay ahead of the game. Determine who will be on your internal team to help manage all of your needs before, during and after a hurricane, and connect them immediately with your waste broker. Working with your waste partner will help ensure your organization and customers are provided with optimal service and safety throughout the storm season. Make sure you play out every scenario with your internal and external teams and practice to be fully prepared.

Communication = Crucial

Natural disasters have a devastating effect on communication. Within hours of a hurricane’s arrival, entire businesses can fall silent due to the storm’s fury. Having no communication is a quick way to leave your business floundering, and making sure you’re in constant contact with the internal and external people responsible for waste removal at your stores is key to keeping your stores afloat.

Avoid this obstacle by developing a key communication path both internally and externally with your waste broker to ensure that employees, customers and your waste vendors are fully prepared to best assist with waste removal before, during and after the weather event.

Ensure that your team has a plan if cell service and power are down — how will you communicate with your internal storm team and your waste broker as garbage begins to pile up? Be sure to review this communication path with every store location and their respective teams.

Surviving a storm is one thing; maintaining a successful grocery outlet is another. The work doesn’t end once the storm is over.

Keep Special Circumstances in Mind

Even with the multitude of issues that hurricanes bring, always plan for the unexpected. Evaluate your different locations and their unique waste management needs before storms occur to ensure that your waste broker can manage all of your waste issues at every location.

By being conscious of each location’s distinct waste removal situation, your waste broker can be fully prepared to know which store location may need a specific waste container to hold frozen food, meat items or general goods. Additionally, special requirements can help determine which stores will need more immediate help — ensuring that your entire chain is connected and working toward the ultimate goal of reopening store doors.

After the Storm

Surviving a storm is one thing; maintaining a successful grocery outlet is another. The work doesn’t end once the storm is over. Your waste broker should develop a post-event waste management plan that outlines how service will be provided and where, in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

This plan can include a multitude of steps that vary based on location and needs. By setting up a post-storm plan, your waste broker can work more efficiently and effectively for all of your grocery outlets.

About the Author

Michael Hess

Michael Hess

Michael Hess is founder and CEO of Waste Harmonics, a Rochester, N.Y.-based company that provides customized waste and recycling management solutions for businesses across North America. Read More