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Roger Guzowski

Jun 10, 2014

Roger Guzowski


Best practices, Logistics, Waste and Recycling

Window of Opportunity

When Timing is Everything

It may be a cliché, but sometimes timing is everything. Or if not everything, timing can sometimes have a significant impact on your program’s success.

Take for example the desire to replace vehicles, equipment, or even lighting with greener alternatives. WHEN you propose to make that replacement can make a huge difference. If that vehicle or equipment is near the end of its useful life, such that you would soon be paying a replacement cost anyway, the cost of implementing the green alternative is only the net difference between the greener alternative and the less green alternative that might have been chosen anyway. In many cases, the ROI/payback on that net cost may be easy to justify. However, if you are trying to replace that vehicle or equipment when there are still many years of useful life left in it, your benefit-cost analysis must often bear the full cost of the equipment or vehicle that you are trying to justify, which may make it harder to sell the green benefits/savings. As a result, like aging NBA rosters too often find, if you miss your window of opportunity, all your hard work may only be remembered as a noble effort instead of a success.

Another example is long term contracts. Have you been frustrated trying to get your long term service provider to do something green? It may be a matter of timing. Your contractor may be reluctant to do anything that is not in the contract. They may be operating on such a small profit margin that they have no ability to take on extra cost or effort. Or, both parties may be reluctant to amending the contract for fear of opening the floodgates to other unwanted changes, including pricing. But, do you know when the term of that contract ends? Both parties might be much more amenable to adding the “green” clauses that you want to add when the contract is being extended, a new contract is being negotiated, or a new bid/RFP is being developed. Maintaining a positive dialog with both your vendor and your in-house contact manager may allow you to best take advantage of your windows of opportunity.

Timing can also be the key to successful recycling. Green intents and waste diversion plans are wonderful, but often the most important facet of recycling comes down to simple timing. Inside buildings, you have a certain window of opportunity to collect recyclables before a custodian, whose primary intent is keeping their building clean, dumps that recycling bin as trash for fear of it overflowing and creating a mess or causing an odor issue. Outside buildings, the same issue is true for recycling barrels or dumpsters. No matter how many pledges you have signed, ultimately you need to pick up recyclables within a certain window of opportunity before the trash truck picks it up for you. That window of opportunity varies from material to material (stuff that has the potential to stink has a much smaller window than something that does not) and from site to site (if your alleyway is a wind tunnel such that cardboard left too long has the potential to blow around and create a mess, you will have a much smaller pickup window of opportunity than you would otherwise expect).

Do you know when your windows of opportunity are? If you are preparing an action plan, whether a climate action plan, a resiliency plan, or a waste management plan, have you mapped out your windows of opportunity? If not, I would encourage you to do so. They might prove to be the most important component of the plan. It is a lot easier to take advantage of those windows of opportunity when they are open then to try to smash through them when they have closed and locked.