Recycling: Positive Impact

Refuse company goes beyond the basics of trash pickup

It’s about much more than picking up the trash. “We’ve built this company on providing waste management solutions—from collection to recycling and disposal—that help save natural resources and make a positive impact on the environment,” says Tom Hill, CEO of American Waste Control.

Founded in 1970 by Kenneth Burkett, Tulsa-based American Waste Control began by offering residential waste pickup and commercial collection services. In 1987, it founded Tulsa Recycle & Transfer and today also operates American Environmental Landfill. Collectively, the companies provide integrated solutions for waste collection, recycling, and landfill services.

While it does all start at the curb, not all trash is alike. In turn, that requires the right mix of equipment. The 100-unit American Waste Control fleet consists of about 20 different types of vehicles, including trucks with refuse bodies, chassis to handle roll-off containers, and tractors and transfer trailers.

“Across our operation, a common challenge—in fact, an industry-wide issue—is overweight loads,” Hill says. “We’re not dealing with commodities that have a set weight, or freight that can be weighed before it is loaded. We have no idea how much trash or recycling we’ll be picking up at any stop or on any route.

“Our goal has always been to ensure safety and prevent equipment damage,” Hill continues, “so we spec things like tag axles and intentionally run shorter routes to ensure we’re operating safely and legally. Although that can eat into your profit, it’s often less costly than equipment damage and fines. Today, especially under CSA, violations can affect you in many ways.”

Maintenance and inspections play a large role in ensuring that American Waste Control vehicles are safe and legal. The company emphasizes that pre- and post-trip inspections are conducted properly and that problems are handled quickly. Particular attention is paid to brake adjustment, and to tires, which routinely suffer damage in waste disposal areas. In addition to performing everything from preventive maintenance to total rebuilds, the fleet’s 10-bay shop has a tire operation and maintains an inventory of a variety of tire types and sizes.

Mack Trucks and Heil refuse bodies are standards of the American Waste Control fleet. Front-end loaders consist of 28-yd. Heil Half/Pack bodies on Mack TerraPro cabover chassis with MP7 engines and Allison automatics. Roll-off chassis are Mack RD, CV and GU models with Mack powertrains and Watson Chalin tag axles. Tractors are equipped with Mack mDrive automated manual transmissions.

“The complexity of our equipment means we rely on our dealers, including Mack Truck Sales of Tulsa and our Heil distributor, United Engines of Oklahoma City,” Hill states. “Those relationships will be especially important as we move into operating natural gas-powered trucks.

“Our three-year plan includes converting to Macks with Cummins Westport ISL G CNG engines,” Hill continues. “Initially, we’ll be using public fueling sites and then a mobile fueling operation. Once we have 20 CNG trucks, we can cost-justify building a Clean Energy slow-fill facility on our property, and eventually add a public fast-fill facility and turn that into a profit center.”

The move to CNG trucks at American Waste Control is a perfect example of how the locally owned and operated family of waste and recycling collection companies is continually looking to go beyond just picking up the trash, and in turn help reduce waste and conserve natural resources.

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