Like many major companies, McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) is invested in cutting its costs. But its latest tactic may be a bit offbeat, albeit effective.
A number of McDonald's restaurants in Las Vegas have begun employing new technology to help reduce waste, recycle more efficiently, and save money on trash removal costs. That technology is none other than dumpster cameras, a trend that could really take off as more property owners and commercial landlords seek to lower their expenses while becoming more eco-friendly.
Less waste, less spending
The technology those Las Vegas McDonald's restaurants are using comes from a company called Compology, which outfits dumpsters with trash-monitoring cameras and sensors. Those cameras take several rounds of photos each day and also capture images when dumpster contents are removed. Software then analyzes those images to determine how full a given dumpster is and whether its contents are sorted appropriately.
For example, an image may identify an item earmarked for recycling that doesn't belong there. Or it may identify items being tossed out with regular trash that can, in fact, be recycled.
A big goal of Compology is to help businesses reduce waste, improve recycling efforts, and become more earth-friendly. And it believes its tools can help educate people on the basics of recycling -- knowledge many are lacking.
But there are also potential cost savings involved. By making sure dumpsters are actually full before they're emptied, property owners could substantially slash their annual waste removal costs.
Compology's service costs businesses between $10 and $20 per month per dumpster. But it has the potential to save companies thousands of dollars per dumpster, per year, when accounting for more efficient waste removal. Often, dumpsters are unloaded when they're nowhere near full capacity. That's an added -- and needless -- expense for property owners and landlords.
Cost savings aside, companies or property owners that opt to employ Compology's technology can also reap rewards in the form of reputation. Many consumers these days tend to favor eco-friendly businesses, and many tenants (both commercial and residential) would rather rent from a landlord who's environmentally conscious.
Getting ahead of the curve
Furthermore, installing these cameras could be a way to get ahead of future recycling rules that may grow stricter in time. The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that on a national level, it wants to raise the recycling rate (which is currently around 32%) to 50% by 2030. If new laws are imposed, property owners may need to better monitor their trash and recycling, so investing in dumpster cameras is a good way to get ahead of that curve.
In fact, in time, Compology's goal is to help standardize how waste is measured and reported in the U.S. Some cities, like New York, are already taking steps to grade buildings on their energy efficiency. In time, buildings might receive a similar grade on their recycling efforts.
The Millionacres bottom line
Investing in dumpster cameras is a relatively low-cost endeavor, but the upside could be huge. That's something landlords, property managers, and business owners should definitely keep in mind and consider working into their budgets.