Beckett Client, Rehrig Pacific, Grabs Major Industry Attention in Waste & Recycling News

Dateline: January 19, 2009

Waste & Recycling News showcased Rehrig Pacific within a feature story about the City of Los Angeles cart program. Below is the release that attracted the attention. The Beckett team began serving Rehrig Pacific in 1997. 

City of Los Angeles Innovates Municipal Waste Management
Commitment to “zero-waste” is faced with tough challenges and significant benefits
Six thousand six hundred tons of refuse are currently being collected on a daily basis in the nation’s second largest city. As its population increases, and resources become more limited, the City of Los Angeles is working hard towards becoming a cleaner, greener “zero-waste” city. This means that the City’s waste will become a renewable resource to save energy (and produce fuel for new “green” energy forms), divert material from landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Los Angeles City Council recently established several key goals in response to the growing challenges posed by global climate change including:

  • Operating an alternative technology facility by 2010
  • Converting the Bureau’s fleet of trucks to run on clean fuels by 2010
  • Achieving 70% diversion (recycling rate) by 2015
  • Reducing green house gas emission to 35% below 1990 levels by 2030

The Solid Waste Integrated Resources Plan currently being developed will become the City’s 20-year master plan to achieve zero waste in Los Angeles. The Solid Waste Integrated Resources Plan is designed to be a six-year stakeholder-driven planning effort, organized by regions of the city that make up the city’s six collection districts. The Solid Waste Integrated Resources Plan kicked off with a series of regional workshops in August 2007 and were completed in early 2008. 

City of Los Angeles Has Already Achieved 90% of 2015 Goal
The Bureau of Sanitation’s years of progress towards a greener, recycling focused solid resources management program is already diverting 62% of waste from landfills to recycling (90% of the 2015 goal). A big part of this success has been the City’s automated collection program including the Automated Container Systematic Replacement Program. The sheer scope of this program, the City’s proactive approach to replacing containers, the sharing of a distribution facility, and the cutting edge approach to asset tracking, which will soon include Radio Frequency Identification Devices, are just a few reasons why the City of LA will continue to pave the way for municipalities across the country. 

The pathway to zero waste is lined with obstacles. This is the story of the role of the humble trash cart in the City of Los Angeles’ victory of overcoming one obstacle and reducing several inefficiencies within the process of solid waste collection. 

Dependable Solid Waste Containers Are Key to Protecting the Public Health
As the second largest city in the nation collecting over 6,600 tons from approximately 750,000 residential units a day, the City of Los Angeles’ Bureau of Sanitation is constantly seeking new, and more cost efficient, waste management practices to protect the public health and environment for this growing metropolis. One of these practices is the distribution of automated containers to residents so solid waste is managed and collected in a safe and uniform manner and honors the taxpayers’ investment. 

“The Bureau of Sanitation is dedicated to providing excellent service to the residents of the City of Los Angeles, and the automated containers are an integral part of such an operation,” according to Bureau of Sanitation Director Enrique C. Zaldivar. “By making sure that the residents have dependable containers to handle their refuse, recycling and yard trimmings, we ensure their efficient and safe collection and processing.” 

The Automated Container Systematic Replacement Program was launched on July 15, 2002 by the City to:

  • Ensure the good condition of containers while maintaining high customer satisfaction and a professional appearance on the street
  • Systematically replace automated refuse, yard trimming and recycling containers that have reached the end of their functional life
  • Distribute new containers to residents, while retrieving and evaluating old containers for either re-deployment back to residents, should they still be useful, or grinding the old containers for re-use in newly manufactured containers.

City Ensures Carts Operate Safely for Residents and Sanitation Workers
“The City can take great pride in the Bureau of Sanitation’s approach to going out and upgrading their fleet of containers in a proactive and systematic manner,” stated one expert in the waste handling industry. “It’s rare for a city to maintain such a “pride of ownership” mindset regarding their roll-out carts. They put a lot of effort into ensuring their carts look aesthetically pleasing, function well, and operate safely for their residents and drivers.” 

The Automated Container Systematic Replacement Program also provided an opportunity for the City to address compatibility issues between the collection equipment and containers that had developed over the years with the variety of containers. As a result, the City decided to standardize the automated collection containers being replaced by awarding only one contract through the Request for Qualifications and Request for Bid processes. “The procurement process of having a Request for Qualifications followed by a Request for Bid, that included an extensive ten year simulated lift test, enabled the City of Los Angeles to ensure that we provide the residents the best quality containers at the best possible price” says Mr. Zaldivar. Since the launch of the Automated Container Systematic Replacement Program, Los Angeles-based Rehrig Pacific (fast approaching its 100th year in business) has supplied and distributed approximately 1.75 million injection molded automated containers citywide. 

The Automated Container Systematic Replacement Program is being thoughtfully rolled-out into the City’s six collection waste sheds, or districts, each serviced by a dedicated collection yard.

  • Completion of each waste shed can take as little as four months to over a year depending on the number of residential units.
  • The program was initially implemented in the East Valley in 2002, then progressed through the North Central and West Valley, and is currently on going in South Los Angeles.
  • The Harbor and West Los Angeles districts will follow accordingly and are on track to be completed by February 2009.

Big Challenges: Spending Wisely to Ensure Worker and Resident Safety
In the effort to improve worker safety and cost efficiency, in 1991, the City’s era of automated collection refuse began with the delivery of automated black containers, for refuse, and green containers, for yard trimmings. To promote refuse diversion toward recycling, and based on resident “set-out” and container usage studies, the City distributed a standard allocation of one 65-gallon black and one 65-gallon green container to each residence. Beginning in 1997, the program was expanded to further encourage recycling by providing one 95-gallon blue container for recyclables.  

Since the inception of the automated container program, the City has utilized several container vendors, as well as several types of molded carts including injection molded, rotational molded, and blow molded. As the initial round of containers approached the end of their 10-year service life, the City experienced a dramatic increase in customer service calls, requesting repairs or replacements, as the number of broken containers steadily increased. 

Since the Automated Container Systematic Replacement Program was an entirely new concept for the City, it presented an entirely new set of challenges to overcome. The program started by developing a thorough understanding of the management and staffing requirements to determine the practical implications on their daily roles and responsibilities.

  • Staffing levels were adjusted to accommodate the mechanics of the rollout, and the retrieval and processing of old containers.
  • The addition of staff was complemented by the acquisition of specially designed equipment, including regular delivery and long bed trucks that were ordered to meet the specific demands of the rollout in various terrains such as hillsides, flat areas and narrow streets.
  • The City’s antiquated database system required the development of a modern database infrastructure to accurately capture and track the distribution of the containers to the residents through the use of bar code scanners.
  • Optimization of the distribution routes was accomplished through the use of automated route planning software, which allowed for an efficient use of staff and equipment to conform with the program schedule.

Improved Cart Design Has Led to Increased Resident Satisfaction and Tax Savings
The immediate benefits the City realized from the Automated Container Systematic Replacement Program were reduced resident complaints and improved collection efficiency. Over the program’s five years, the number of calls has gone down an extraordinary 31.8%, resulting in significant savings in time, transit and labor costs for taxpayers. This improvement is especially significant given that initial expectations of the Automated Container Systematic Replacement Program were to address a rise in complaints, while the result has actually been a dramatic reduction in the number of calls.  

The selection of injection molded containers that can be modified to include improvements to the container design, reinforcing areas that handle the rigors of collection and improved integration with the City’s automated equipment, has resulted in a superior performing container. The City benefits through the reduction in time and labor associated with the daily tasks of receiving resident’s calls, generating work orders and driving to residences to handle complaints. 

Beginning in 1997, bar code labels were affixed to each container and in 2001 these were improved to include more information including the manufacture date. Today, drivers and distributors from the North Hollywood staging area use handheld Personal Data Assistants to scan bar codes affixed to each container that assign individual addresses, serial numbers and usage information. This in-depth information allows managers to immediately and accurately identify containers in need of repair or replacement based on their service history and locate these by the residential address. The time and labor savings of this aspect alone has been significant. 

Systematic Cart Replacement is Primary Factor in City’s Improved Collection Efficiency
The City’s North Hollywood staging area is critical to the proactive replacement of carts citywide. Rehrig Pacific operates this site and works alongside the City’s staff to implement the Automated Container Systematic Replacement Program. The City’s approach to finding a collaborative partner capable of both locating and managing an effective distribution facility, as well as, manufacturing the best quality containers, at the best price, is unique in the industry. Most municipalities consider roll-outs as a “one-shot” effort and not a continuous program with a supplier as part of a long-term partnership. The City’s improved collection efficiency is primarily due to the fact that the containers on the street are in much better condition than they would be if they had not been systematically replaced. 

The City of Los Angeles’ commitment to protection of workers and citizens, and its commitment to zero waste, serves as a model for the nation, and indeed the world, in changing the meaning of the word “garbage” for today’s environmentally aware residents. In the not so distant past, recyclables used to be what we kept out of the garbage. Now, garbage is what we have leftover after we reuse, recycle, and compost!

# # #More about Rehrig Pacific Company:

Rehrig Pacific is a world-leading manufacturer of returnable plastic crates and plastic pallets for handling and transporting retail and manufactured goods, produce, food and beverage products, and more. Based in Los Angeles, California, Rehrig Pacific is an international company with licensees worldwide offering an ever-expanding product line that includes reusable plastic crates, carts for waste collection and recycling, and pallets designed for handling, storing and transporting products for industry. For more information about Rehrig, please visit

For further information, please contact:
William H. Bloch
Manager Global Logistics
Rehrig Pacific Company
Direct: (323) 415-8713 
Toll free: (800) 421-6244, ext. 713

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