Deep And Meaningful Data

Dan-HowellsCloud Sustainability’s senior partnership manager, Dan Howells, discusses the provision of meaningful data to improve waste contractor interaction with clients and secure long-term relationships.


recycling-bin-download-data-illustrationAt Cloud Sustainability, we’ve built up many years of experience advising our clients on how best to extract value from their waste management data. Understanding what data is needed by waste producers, is something that we have historically found waste management companies could improve upon. The lack of information available and lack of consistent data sets has perhaps been down to a nervousness in giving clients too much information, or perhaps that the data is simply not collected in the first place.

Consequences of increased self-sufficiency are perceived to be detrimental to the waste company as the client may become less reliant upon external service providers. However, contrary to that belief, Cloud Sustainability has seen countless examples of where those contractors that have a partnered and transparent approach to managing and reducing their clients waste, have gained more work from existing clients and increased in appeal to new clients.

Our analysis of a range of data sets provided by contractors underlines the need to understand in more detail what waste producers actually require.

What producers want to see, can be dependent upon the type of organisation and their activities. Organisations have many drivers, but perhaps they can be narrowed down to three main themes of assessment when it comes to managing waste sustainably; financial performance, environmental performance and compliance.

‘Basic’ Data Requirements

  • More complete analysis is achieved where data can be provided from hierarchical layers of an organisation. This does depend on the practicalities of collections but as an example – if collection data can be provided on a departmental level, this is favoured over data from site level.
  • The type and quantity of waste that is produced (and thus collected via presence of EWC codes). This is obviously a basic requirement and sets the foundations for further analysis. It also provides an indication to the producer of the legislation that needs to be complied with.
  • How the waste is being managed in line with the waste hierarchy (i.e. reuse, recycling, recovery, disposal). Based on our experience, this data set is the most unlikely to be provided, which is unfortunate as it is one of the most vital in understanding environmental performance.

Financial Performance

Clearly, organisations wish to understand the amount of money they are spending on waste. This enables them to plan and forecast for the months and years ahead. However, it also allows them to identify areas for improvement. Financial data should be provided that outlines the following:

  • How much is spent on waste management? This means nothing on its own, this would need to be analysed along with how it compares to company productivity and historic waste generation. It will allow the waste producer to identify trends – are there links to production, company productivity or yearly timelines etc?
  • Value of rebates received (if any). Allows producers to understand which streams generate a revenue and analyse opportunities for revenue increase i.e. compaction and baling or analysis of market rates.
  • Spend per site/department. Many businesses are able to apportion costs to different cost centres. This also helps a business to publish league tables to encourage individuals responsible to reduce cost.
  • Spend per waste stream. This will help the waste producer to identify streams that demand high gate fees and remove unnecessary costs.
  • Enabling the producer to gain an understanding of the composition of the waste. This would also be invaluable in identifying whether there is a lost value of materials that are disposed of as one waste stream rather than another i.e General Waste vs Dry Mixed Recyclables. Conversely it may also justify cost of treatment or disposal from a contractor perspective.

Environmental Performance

Assessing the environmental performance of waste management against the waste hierarchy ensures that waste is being managed in the most sustainable way. Waste contractor reporting should be the first step in improving environmental performance. Core data should include:

  • how the waste is managed and the destination of individual waste streams. Pivotal to comprehend current performance and decide whether alternative treatment options would be more environmentally beneficial. Destination will also allow for carbon impact to be calculated and the necessary actions taken – How does the waste contractor link to the organisations waste strategy and policy demands?
  • recycling recovery rates for each destination. This will form the basis to identify if a better recovery rate may be gained in the event materials are segregated at source.


We have found the standard of documentation currently provided to be poor. CIWM’s “tackling waste crime” campaign is a welcomed move to improve the state of documentation across the country. Provision of correct compliance information including documentation and evidence will allow the producer to analyse their current compliance position and demonstrate their duty of care. Data that should be provided includes:

  • how the waste is being transferred and how the waste is being managed/disposed of
  • documentation – Waste Carriers Registration documents and permits
  • level of contamination/Incidents of contamination. This data should also include photos and detail that will allow the producer to trace back to the source. Greater analysis of contamination on behalf of the contractor would be beneficial to both parties.

How can waste contractors improve interactions with clients and secure long-term relationships?

The provision of meaningful data… meaningful data analysis will allow waste producers to make decisions based upon facts and will form the basis for an effective waste management strategy; understanding what data to provide your clients will be understood through increased dialogue and integration with client waste management strategy; aligning goals and objectives and measuring performance against those objectives over the long-term with a transparent approach to account management is a clear way of building trust and securing a longer contract; and robust management systems where progress can be recorded, goals shared and information documented are also useful in administering this process.



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