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Good as new

With competition tough and margins tight, waste management firms are realising now more than ever that changes need to be made to protect the bottom line. Changes in environmental regulations and health and safety laws, combined with the unrelenting economic pressures faced by all businesses, means that the industry is having to adapt quickly and leave behind many of its former working practices.

UK firm Fairport Containers, established in 1993, provides a remodelling, refurbishment, resale and hire service for commercial waste containers. It has the capacity to process 7,500 waste containers a year and employs around 30 people. It is part of the privately owned Fairport Group of companies, which includes materials handling and engineering companies.

An increasing number of companies are looking to squeeze every bit of value from their existing stock and are responding to a telling industry trend around a particular type of container remodelling. Fairport often finds that once a customer begins to have their containers refurbished or remodelled, they wonder why they never thought to have it done previously.

Some have never considered it and some may not realise the extent of the modifications which can be made, but once customers see the savings they can make and the quality of the finished product, Fairport says it achieves on-going repeat custom. The process is all about releasing value, which is tied up in existing company assets.  A company may have valuable waste containers that may have been damaged by fire, making them unusable. 

Some containers may become abandoned because of a company re-brand, takeover or even new health and safety laws. Observation ladders, for example, on the sides of containers can now no longer reach to the top, so that people can’t easily get inside or walk on top of the waste.  Even if legislative changes don’t make the containers unusable they can sometimes make them less profitable. And although these are simple things to remedy, in the past, the company might simply have scrapped these containers and bought new. But in today’s economic climate this is no longer an option.

Fairport Containers sends staff to assess the condition of containers before providing a quote. This saves customers the expense of transporting them only to find they may be beyond repair.  If they are salvageable, Fairport then takes them to its nearest depot, where it carries out all the works in-house, such as shot-blasting, welding, painting, branding and finishing, and delivers them back, ‘good as new’.

Businesses can reap significant savings by refurbishing or remodelling containers, compared with buying new. One particular trend in container remodelling appears to be emerging as a result of increasing landfill tax as well as companies’ desire to generate additional income from recycling revenue.

A few years ago, businesses wanted their waste containers to be able to carry the greatest weight possible to landfill. Commercial waste containers were generally closed on all sides and fitted with a compactor to compress as much waste as possible into the space.  Once the container was as full as it could get, it would then be transported to landfill.

Times have changed very rapidly, and an increased desire for companies to recycle instead of send waste to landfill has brought about a need to separate waste at source, making this type of container almost obsolete.  Around two years ago Fairport customers began to ask how these containers could be made useful once again and the solution was to remove the compactor roof.  This allows the containers to be filled quickly and easily from above with a specific recyclable material. 

Fairport Containers now carries out around 20 of these modifications per month, for large clients such as Biffa, Veolia and Sita as well as smaller, independent firms.  This remodelling helps clients to provide more efficient recycling processes and saves the expense of buying a brand new container, thereby creating two-fold efficiencies within the business.

BOX OUT – Refurbishment and remodelling service includes

Transport – Collection from and delivery back to customer premises

Shot blasting- With controlled debris disposal
Straightening - While maintaining structural integrity

Cutting out - obsolete sections removed
Re-building - to meet new specification
Painting – tough finish applied in compliance with emissions legislation
Signage - including safety labels and branding

Steve Collinson is managing director of Fairport Containers.

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