May 2008

A Closer Look E-mail the author

Western Disposal
Bryce Isaacson • 303-444-2037
Western Disposal services about 37,000 residential customers and 6,000 businesses in Colorado.

While the company name says, “Disposal,” Bryce Isaacson, vice president of sales and marketing for Western Disposal noted, “We are as much a recycling company as a trash company. Material that used to be in the trash is now recycled.”

Isaacson has been with the company for 20 years. “It’s forever changing,” he said. “It is a very dynamic business.” Western Disposal got its start in the gravel business with just one truck, and it has evolved into one of the largest independent trash haulers in Colorado.

“We’re equally involved in residential as in business,” Isaacson said. The company services about 37,000 residential customers and 6,000 business customers in Boulder and Broomfield counties. He said that Western Disposal is the only independent trash hauler in the area that uses automated carts for recycling, while the others rely on recycling bins and two-man teams on the trucks.

The City of Boulder, Colorado, one area where Western Disposal operates, recently changed its requirements as far as recycling construction and demolition (C&D) material. “Colorado has one of the lowest average disposal rates in the nation,” Isaacson explained, which meant there was no financial incentive for recycling the C&D material. “We’ve been working with the people who have wanted to do it, but now it’s become mandatory. Now we’re going to satisfy the market need.”

Another change is the planned shift to single-stream recycling “as soon as the plant is ready to take it,” Isaacson said. The plan is to begin converting customers’ pickups to single-stream beginning in May, and have the process complete by October. “Everything is waiting for the plant.” But that’s not all. “We’ll be rolling out curbside compostables in the City of Boulder,” Isaacson said.

Western Disposal composts wood waste and household yard waste, processes commercial cardboard and paper, and accepts residential hazardous waste at its facility. The company is also involved in “spring clean-ups” for residents. Isaacson said that about 5 tons of cardboard a day is sorted from the trash, along with metal and concrete, all destined for recycling.

It’s not all about making money, though. Western Disposal leases two acres of land for $1 per month to a company called Resource Resource, which resells construction materials like doors, windows, flooring, brick, stone, light fixtures, pavers, doorknobs, wood beams and some appliances. Resource Resource will also plane and cut timbers for customers.

Recently, Western Disposal got involved with Impact on Education, which organizes a program called Crayons to Calculators. That program provides backpacks and school supplies to local underprivileged children. Isaacson explained that the backpacks are different for each grade, filled with supplies based on school needs at that level.

The company donated $25,000 to Crayons to Calculators, then offered a matching employee grant for another $5,000. In total, the company and its employees donated $46,597, which will fill more than 850 backpacks.

For fundraising, Western Disposal employees divided into five teams to compete to see which team would raise the most money. As added incentive, the company offered a $1,000 prize to the winning team. Even vendors got involved, donating tickets to sporting events, which were raffled off to raise money.

Isaacson said one of the things he’s most proud of at Western Disposal is “our name and our reputation. If we screw up, we bend over backward to fix it.” Not only does the company respond to customers’ calls about problems, it invites feedback by sending out surveys every month “and we follow up on all the negative comments.”

He credited the longtime employees and the management team with making the company what it is. “We are forever on the forefront of how to be a better company.” And now, a new focus is on “trying to get more recognition for the environmental side of what we do – to get more visibility for what we do that people don’t know about.”