Trash Duty, True Confessions – How Long Does It Really Take to Empty The Trash?

We are excited to introduce a new blog series by Bigbelly’s Director of Private Sector Solutions, Mark Koeck. Mark is an enthusiastic champion of helping organizations transform their front-of-house waste and recycling operations by using technology as a catalyst for change.

The Bigbelly smart waste and recycling system is making a notable difference in retailers, grocerers, convenience stores, food service, venues, office buildings, and hospitals across the globe. Mark will be sharing insights and learnings from waste management in these markets, and how technology and automation impact the customer experience, employee productivity, and sustainability for private sector businesses and organizations. We hope these insights pique your interest in the prospect of a smart waste system for these applications. Enjoy!

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When working with retail clients to improve their public trash collection process, I can barely contain my enthusiasm to discuss everything from trash contents, bin size, and pest control to volumes and recycling diversion rates. A glimpse of trash and recycling bins placed together makes my sustainability wheels turn at full speed. Think of me as a cleanshaven Oscar the Grouch.

But there is a darker side… Despite the “trash talk” all day at work, I despise our trash at home… and it’s our trash. What’s up with that? Taking out the weekly trash at home happens to be my chore. I usually remember that it’s trash night just before I want to go to bed. I always tell myself – “It just takes a few seconds to empty the trash… what’s the deal here?”

Midway through each week, I find myself pressing the air from the kitchen trash bin so I don’t have to walk to the outdoor collection bin but once weekly. I double my “fun” by gathering our recyclables too. Icky bag leaks, an inevitable vacuum seal, weathering the snow or rain all make this task that much more interesting. Sometimes, I rethink that earlier statement… All in, it’s about 10 minutes of trash handling a week that I used to think just took a few seconds.

It’s times like this that remind me why I am so passionate at work in helping organizations optimize this mundane yet required routine. Sure, there are processes in place but so often waste operations take far longer than anyone expects, since no one ever complains about an empty trash bin.

It takes retailers like grocery stores, convenience stores, or big box stores an average 3 to 9 minutes to empty each of their trashcans – those in the front of their stores, café areas, or grocerant and dine-in eating areas.

This price of employee time makes sense when you dissect the process. It starts with getting the wheeled bin, then removing the waste, replacing the bag, cleaning up surrounding litter and overflows, refilling the crew’s trash bag inventory, cleaning the exterior of the bin, ordering bags from the warehouse, wiping down the inside and outside of the trash bin, walking the trash to the compacting dumpster in the back of the store, bringing the wheeled bin back to the front of the store, and keeping the wheeled bin clean. The time adds up quickly – there has to be a better way.

By automating much of the work associated with front-of-house waste collections with the Bigbelly system, retailers are discovering they can gain a fivefold increase in productivity. They also reduce the number of trash bags in the waste stream by 80% making for more a sustainable business.

If a store is emptying the trash 3 times daily with 4 trash cans in the front of the store (many have more) and 2 in the indoor dining area, Bigbelly could reduce the amount of manhours used to collect trash in excess of 400 hours annually per store. For large enterprise retailers where Bigbelly is deployed at each individual store, it doesn’t take long for those savings to be in the hundreds of thousands of hours. Think of the impact on overall productivity and the bottom line when team members can spend less time on trash and more time helping customers and improving the overall shopping experience.

Moving back to my weekly pain of taking out the trash at home…. With only two residing in our home, perhaps I should maintain the peace by sticking to my chore. How about we keep this confession between you and me?


Until next time,



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