Imagine yourself in the grocery store.  You’re at the checkout lane and those darn candy bars are calling your name. With your will-power defeated, you decide which one of the gooey chocolate/peanut/caramel bars you’re getting.  The price isn’t terrible for an impulse purchase and you gladly pay it in anticipation of biting into some heavenly chocolate goodness. 

As the receipt is handed to you, you notice they’ve charged you sales tax on this. Taxing chocolate seems wrong, but you know it’s commonplace. Imagine if it went a step further; What happens when you notice other charges have appeared on your receipt?  You see there’s a Carbon Offset Charge to make up for the environmental damage caused by the manufacturing of this product. There is a Transportation Charge to get the product to the store. You’ve been nailed with a Health and Safety Charge to ensure that the ingredients that were used in the manufacturing of that product contain no outside toxins that could be harmful to humans.  ABSURD, isn’t it?

Well, absurd charges are the norm for the waste and recycling industry.  All those absurd charges began with the addition of Fuel Surcharges.  Seriously, didn’t waste haulers know that they were going to have to fuel up their trucks when they quoted you a price for service? When they understood that customers were gullible enough to pay these charges, they added other charges like Administrative Fee, because, really, you should pay your hauler for the time and effort they expend generating your monthly invoice.   Then they decided to try their hand at Environmental Surcharges.  These are ostensibly so your hauler doesn’t dump your garbage in the ocean.  Which begs the question: Shouldn’t this have been figured into your base price?  The industry further progressed into Contamination Charges, Overage Charges each at about four times your base price. There have most recently added Regulatory Cost Recovery Fees, Recycling Process Fees, and Driver Assist Fees, and lastly the Compliance and Business Impact Fee.

The vast majority of all these ‘creative charges’ are already included in your haulers base price and are just a way of enhancing their revenue. 


 So, when should you challenge junk fees?

 Whenever you get tired of paying twice for the same service.


Need more value out of your waste program?

Marshall Staiman, LEED Green Associate

Marshall Staiman, LEED Green Associate

President at Talismark

The author is an owner at Talismark, a national waste and recycling outsource management company that services retail and commercial businesses throughout the United States. He is Harvard Business School case study participant and lecturer, he’s been featured in Forbes magazine, and has placed on Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies two years running. 


About Talismark

Talismark is a Waste Solutions Management Company that custom designs waste management programs to champion sustainability and compliance with measurable results.  Creating a customer experience that captures value, reduces cost, and saves resources!