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From landscaping to HVAC repair, business owners are often forced to focus on distractions outside of their core operations. With the many challenges businesses already face day to day, RWS Facility Services (RWS), Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, aims to at least take the burden of waste management off its customers’ shoulders.

“That’s really where RWS takes ownership,” says Jeff Roney, vice president of operations at RWS. “Whether [the operation] may be a restaurant or a manufacturing facility, the goal is to take that [waste management] burden away from the client so they can focus on their core business.”

RWS develops and manages end-to-end recycling, waste and sustainability programs for multi-site customers across North America. Following an asset-light business model, the company is a full-service provider and category manager utilizing technology, analytics and reporting, and a commodities trading platform to handle its customers’ needs.

Originally founded as Recycling and Waste Solutions in 2012, RWS has grown to serve some of the nation’s largest companies, including Lowe’s, Panera, UPS and McDonald’s. The company began operations in Europe, where its previous owner Havi Global Solutions (HGS), Downers Grove, Illinois, has been providing zero-waste programs for more than 20 years.

“Our team was formed and driven by the sustainability management expectations of our customers and the regulatory demands placed upon the packaging industry,” RWS President and CEO Anthony Dilenno said in a 2015 Recycling Today article denoting the company’s fast-paced growth.

In April 2019, RWS acquired Woodstock, Georgia-based Sustainable Solutions Group (SSG), further expanding the company’s industry segments to include retail centers, enclosed malls, office buildings, hotels and mixed-use properties. To accommodate the company’s additional facility services across North America, RWS has boosted operational efficiency by providing a single point of contact; programs tailored to specific industries; and advanced technology to deliver real-time data for smarter decision-making regarding collections, sustainability and diversion.

“[We’re always] trying to be mindful of landfill diversion, but also focusing on optimization as well,” says Roney. “I think that’s really a key component—ensuring the services, whether they be for small loads or trailer-load quantities of recyclables, are optimized.”

FOLLOWING THE DATA

In order to meet its customers’ diverse waste service scheduling needs, RWS has taken a data-driven approach. According to Roney, data-driven optimization can take various forms depending on the client and their line of business.

“Utilizing key data points such as a building’s square footage, shipments received, or plates served [in a restaurant], along with historical trends, can help us drive predictive analytics to achieve optimization,” he says. “Further, waste characterizations (i.e. waste substrate analysis that results in knowing exactly what and how much waste is being generated) coupled with on-site waste stream process flow improvements, lead to maximizing container usage and minimizing the amount of materials going to landfill.”

RWS also relies on the company’s regional managers to keep in tune with their clients’ waste management needs. Acting as a go-to waste and recycling resource for the client’s management teams, regional managers keep informed of ever-changing market conditions, identify and foster local vendor networks and lead many of RWS’ business development opportunities.

“We work with the individual sites to make sure that those services are being performed and are being performed according to their needs,” Roney says. “That’s where our [regional managers] really come into play. They provide site-level education to ensure recyclable materials are captured in the correct streams and keep a watchful eye on waste flow throughout the properties to be certain there is no over-utilized or under-utilized equipment.”

Because of these efforts, Roney says clients have seen tangible results. He says RWS’ waste management methodology has helped improve waste compactor optimization by 17 percent at a large box retailer’s distribution network. In addition, the company implemented an efficiency program for a multi-site retail center that resulted in a 22 percent front-load service reduction. Both examples, Roney notes, illustrate how the right data combined with the right team can make a positive impact financially and environmentally for its clients.

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MAKING IT EASY

Roney says that while customers use to utilize data to improve processes in a reactive way, its clients are now leveraging the company’s data for real-time visibility into their facilities to be more proactive.

“That’s where technology really comes into play, and certainly RWS is on the forefront of adopting technology,” says Roney. “[We are] always reviewing what technology might come into the market so we can then make decisions, make adjustments, provide verification of services that have taken place in real time and, ultimately, decide what waste service is best suited for each facility.”

"It’s really us taking ownership of that service [that has helped us make an impact]. RWS is taking ownership of the entire program and making it as easy and effective as possible for our clients to manage their waste.” –Jeff Roney, vp of operations, RWS

Regional managers help to keep operations smooth by working with individual facilities to ensure services are being performed according to the business’s needs. From performing training to being aware of a business’ volume fluctuations, understanding a client’s waste production is RWS’ key to efficiency.

“It’s really us taking ownership of that service [that has helped us make an impact],” Roney says. “RWS is taking ownership of the entire program and making it as easy and effective as possible for our clients to manage their waste. We really rely on our boots on the ground to make sure that’s happening at these individual facilities.”

Other technology that RWS leverages includes its audit app, which is a tool used by the company’s team to collect and report details of a client’s waste or recycling program. The app tracks all equipment details, waste stream details, coordinates of equipment locations, and pictures of waste material equipment. These data points can then be extracted quickly to recommend and implement improvements to a waste program.

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UPS, Lowe’s, Panera and McDonald’s are just some of RWS’ high-profile clients that rely on the company for its waste management expertise.

SUPPORTING SUSTAINABILITY

For RWS to offer superior products and services, Dilenno believed the company needed to commit to a sustainable business model that included conservation, communication and the commitment to measure and improve.

According to Dilenno, the company’s sustainability model is about conserving resources, reducing waste, preventing pollution, avoiding or eliminating materials of environmental concern and being mindful of—and taking actions to improve—impacts of business throughout the entire life cycle.

“It’s also about communicating our vision and goals to our stakeholders, employees, vendors and customers,” says Dilenno. “The better we communicate, the better we can maintain our proactive approach to work with our suppliers and vendors to measure our success. [We do this] by setting procurement policies and corrective action plans that track our performance and progress toward sustainability.”

Roney says RWS is currently working with clients to look at their entire supply chains rather than just landfill diversion when devising sustainability solutions.

“I refer to efficiency and optimization quite a bit, but it’s key that we’re reducing trucks on the road and looking at sustainability holistically,” he says. “We’re not just trying to be reactive to the materials that are going into a recycling or waste removal service, but rather looking into how we can reduce those materials and get the most value out of them.”

The company’s approach works to reduce overlooked sources of waste and expense through the monitoring and maintenance of customers’ day-to-day operations. Proactively preventing situations that can snowball if left untended, Roney says RWS acts as a single, go-to source for companies to lean on for reliable, cost-conscious and environmentally focused solutions.

“It’s more than us just making sure processes are running smoothly,” Roney says. “It’s us taking ownership of that service, taking ownership of the entire program and making it as easy and effective as possible for our clients.”

The author is the assistant editor of Waste Today and can be reached at hrischar@gie.net.