Ask Angela: Pumpkin patches in a COVID-19 world

Angela Phillips is a Senior Account Manager III at ZTERS Site Solutions. She helps customers with some of their most challenging site service issues, and she answers your questions here on our website.

Dear Angela, Pumpkin patches and haunted houses are allowed in our area. We usually host a pumpkin patch in our building’s parking lot, and we want to have one again this year. How should we plan for things to be different in light of COVID-19?

Hey, there. This is a great question for fall. Even in a “regular” year we see a huge increase in demand for portable toilets and hand sanitizer dispensers for fall festivals, pumpkin patches, and haunted houses. There will be fewer festivals this year, but we’re still seeing demand for extra porta potties and especially hand washing stations.

Each municipality has their own recommendations and regulations (and whether or not they’re allowing events to occur at all). In places where outdoor fall events are taking place, it’s likely you’re going to need more portable toilets, hand washing stations, and standalone hand sanitizer dispensers to keep people washing their hands often and thoroughly. And don’t forget to maintain social distancing! Follow your local guidelines.

Here is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of considerations for events. It sounds like you’ll have a small, local community event, so take a look at their recommendations for things like wearing masks, maintaining six feet of distance between people, and providing adequate facilities for hand washing.

If your event is small, and you’ve never ordered portable toilets before, you may want to consider ordering one or two to supplement any indoor bathroom facilities. It depends on whether you’re expecting a lot of people and whether there’s enough room for people to social distance in the available facilities.

Also consider ordering extra hand sanitizer dispensers, and make sure you have plenty of refills available! In a usual year, festivals and haunted houses would have ordered porta potties and hand washing stations at least a few weeks in advance. In fact, they’re often ordered as early as August, depending on the area. This year, with fewer events, you may still be able to put an order in, even as late as mid-October. It really depends on your area and how many events are going on near you.

Any time you’re hosting an outdoor event, give us a call as early as possible to make sure you get the best selection of porta potties, fencing, hand washing stations, and any other site services you’ll need. This year may be different, but late October all the way through December is usually a peak time for toilet and fencing rentals. After Halloween and pumpkin patch season, Christmas tree lots sprout up and people need a lot of porta potties, office trailers, fencing, and storage containers. We like to get people scheduled early so they don’t miss out.

Hope that helps. Stay safe, and have a good pumpkin patch!

Ask Angela: How far in advance do we need to order a dumpster for a clean-out or remodel?

Angela Phillips is a Senior Account Manager III at ZTERS Waste Solutions. She helps customers with some of their most challenging site service issues, and she answers your questions here on our website.

Angela, how far in advance do we need to order a dumpster if we’re doing a clean-out or home remodel?

Not surprisingly, we get this question a lot in spring and summer. People are spending more time at home in 2020, and we’ve seen people either starting or planning major clean-outs and renovations. Here’s what you can expect when renting a dumpster for residential use, including how early you need to order a dumpster.

In most cases, if you call to schedule before noon you can have a dumpster delivered the next business day. (There’s usually a rush fee if the next day is a Saturday and you absolutely have to have it that day.) However, keep these things in mind:

  • Storms, natural disasters, and times when there is a large demand for dumpsters will almost always have a waitlist. We’ve helped customers bring in dumpsters from other areas, so that’s possible. But keep this delay mind if there’s any kind of increased demand in your area. I’ve written about storm debris cleanup before. Check out that article to read more about disaster cleanup.
  • You’ll need a dumpster that fits in your driveway or the front of your house (check permitting regulations!). This usually means a 10-yard dumpster. In some areas, especially where a lot of residential work is happening, there may be short supply of smaller dumpsters. Call a few days ahead to make sure you get the size you want.
  • Dumpsters aren’t usually delivered first thing in the morning. Standard delivery times usually fall between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m., but it’s not unusual for deliveries to happen as late as 5 p.m. If you have a crew coming, or you need to start using the dumpster in the morning, we highly recommend you have it delivered the day before you need it. That way even if it’s delivered late in the afternoon it’ll still be ready to go the morning you need it.

When in doubt, call and schedule a few days in advance. It’s better to call a little early than to not have a dumpster when you want it.

On that note, if you ordered a dumpster and it hasn’t shown up by 2 p.m., give us a call so we can check on it. Most local delivery offices close between 4 and 5 p.m. (with many offices closing at noon on Fridays!), so if the delivery hasn’t shown up, we need to know as early as possible.

Before you make the call, here are a few other tips when you order a dumpster for residential use:

  • Make sure you check for city or county permitting regulations. Some cities even rent dumpsters to residents (like Spokane, WA).
  • Make sure there’s enough clearance for the delivery truck to safely set the dumpster in place. A good rule of thumb is double the length and height of the dumpster.
  • Make sure you’re setting the dumpster on a hard surface like a driveway. They can’t be placed directly on soft ground because rain could cause it to sink and you run the risk of ruining the yard. There would also be extra fees if the dumpster sinks or gets stuck in mud because it’ll have to be towed out, costing extra time and expense. For extra protection, put down 3-4-inch plywood to prevent damage to whatever surface the dumpster is placed on.
  • You can’t put hazardous materials or chemicals like paint, antifreeze, or oil in a dumpster. Other no-go items include batteries, electronics, tires, and appliances. We compiled a list of items you can’t dump on our dumpster rental page.

Renting a dumpster for residential projects is pretty easy and straightforward. You can usually schedule it within a business day. This was a long answer to a short question, but hopefully you found the tips useful! If you need to order a dumpster for residential use, give us a call and we can help you set it up.

Ask Angela: How can we convert an indoor wedding to an outdoor wedding?

Angela Phillips is a Senior Account Manager III at ZTERS Waste Solutions. She helps customers with some of their most challenging site service issues, and she answers your questions here on our website.

Dear Angela: With everything going on, we decided to play it safe and convert our indoor wedding to an outdoor wedding (just in case events get shut down). What are some things we should consider when making the switch?

First, congratulations on your wedding! And second, you’re in good company. We’ve seen a lot of people make the switch and convert an indoor wedding to an outdoor wedding in 2020. Here’s some of the advice we’ve been giving soon-to-be-newlyweds:

  1. Rent your portable toilets as early as possible. Typically, you’d be making these rentals up to a month or two in advance. Get your rental squared away as soon as you know you’re converting an indoor wedding to the great outdoors. This helps ensure you actually get some toilets! If you’re planning a summer or fall wedding, you might still compete with festivals, fun runs, municipal events, and outdoor enthusiasts who rent portable toilets. A lot will depend on circumstances in your area, so call early. You even have lots of event portable toilet options to choose from.
  2. Consider using temporary fencing to create private areas and to prevent gate crashing if you’re in a public area. Temporary fencing can be combined with fabrics and floral arrangements to create an unobtrusive addition to your ceremony or reception. It doesn’t have to look like a construction yard!
  3. Storage containers make great staging areas for catering, DJs or bands, and it creates a safe, lockable space for storing gifts and other valuables while you enjoy your big day. We help people bundle storage units with their outdoor restrooms and fencing all the time.
  4. This might seem self-promotional, but it’s true—you can get all these outdoor services through one company like ZTERS. You (or your wedding planner) have enough to worry about without tracking down several different vendors for toilets, fencing, and containers. If there’s a problem, we can help. And you’ll get one invoice instead of managing one from each different vendor. No one wants to sort through invoices on a honeymoon!

You might be wondering how many portable toilets you’re going to need. We use this handy chart from the Portable Sanitation Association International. If you don’t feel like wading through charts and doing calculations, you can give us a call. We do this literally every day and we can help you sort it out.

In fact, I’ve even answered a previous question about event portable toilets for outdoor weddings. Feel free to take a look before you call, so you have some ideas about what you’d like.

Times are challenging, but you can convert an indoor wedding to an outdoor venue. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a big ordeal. Keep these ideas in mind and feel free to call us if you want some help figuring out what services are available. We help people rent portable toilets (and more) for events every day, and we’re glad to help you out.

How do you dispose of hazardous waste?

Hazardous waste can take many forms, depending on the industry and the facility producing the waste. It is most often produced in medical facilities, at industrial sites, in commercial buildings, and even in residences across the United States. So, how do you dispose of hazardous waste? What do property owners and managers need to know about potentially hazardous materials?

Hazardous materials are defined as anything damaging to the environment, including soil, air, and water, or waste that puts human populations at risk. Typical examples include:

  • Poisons
  • Carcinogens
  • Radioactive materials
  • Medical waste
  • Some electronic devices
  • Paint, batteries, and certain types of light bulbs

Management of hazardous waste in the U.S. is regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). This law establishes a “cradle-to-grave” framework that controls hazardous waste from its creation to its eventual disposal. It is illegal to dispose of hazardous waste in ways that are not sanctioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Fortunately, businesses and homeowners have help when it comes to disposing of potentially hazardous waste. When in doubt, don’t throw any potentially hazardous materials in your regular trash or dumpsters! Instead, contact your municipal waste disposal agency or a waste specialist for guidance.

Before you call, here are some basic things you need to know about proper disposal of hazardous waste.

Contact a qualified waste agency

Disposal of hazardous waste is regulated by the EPA, but disposal practices and policies vary by state, community, and sanitation company. Homeowners or commercial property owners who want to dispose of hazardous waste need to understand what qualifies as hazardous waste, then contact their sanitation company or a waste specialist for assistance. 

There are specific chain of custody and paperwork requirements for certain types of waste, so it makes sense to contact your municipality to find out if there are any local regulations to follow. You can also go directly to a waste services company. They handle potentially hazardous waste every day, so they will often already know the regulations in your area.

What can be thrown away normally

A waste services company can provide guidelines to help you understand what can be thrown away by ordinary means and what is considered hazardous. Dumpsters, for example, are only allowed to hold certain types of waste. Using the wrong type of dumpster or putting hazardous materials into a dumpster intended for regular waste can cause health hazards as well as put your business in a position of liability.

As a property owner, here’s how you can make sure you aren’t disposing of hazardous waste improperly:

  • Train staff to throw away only items that are allowed to go in the dumpsters.
  • Post signs around dumpsters to inform people what can and can’t go in dumpsters.
  • Provide regular reminders to staff to ensure they are only throwing away allowable items.

If you aren’t sure whether your waste is considered hazardous or not, ask a waste disposal company or your local sanitation department. If it could damage the soil, air, water, or human health…then it is probably hazardous.

Schedule a pickup request

Most waste companies will pick up hazardous waste, but you will need to call and schedule a pickup request. There will likely be forms to fill out. Ask if the waste company will manage the hazardous waste paperwork or if you’ll be responsible for any filings.

The RCRA regulates the method of transportation of hazardous waste. This means many types of hazardous waste cannot be transported by the consumer that produced the waste. Scheduling a waste pickup service with a qualified waste company will help ensure the waste is properly contained, transported, and disposed. 

Explore Recycling Options

Some types of hazardous waste, like batteries and paint, can be recycled instead of thrown away. Whenever possible, consider recycling. Your waste company should have a list of materials that can be recycled. Ask about recycling options when you book your dumpster.

When you dispose of hazardous waste, it pays to work with a waste service provider that will help you navigate the process. ZTERS has more than a decade of experience with all types of waste disposal nationwide. We can help you find the right dumpster for your waste, whether hazardous or not. We even have a commercial waste division that can help you plan your commercial waste disposal.

Give us a call to find out how we can make your hazardous waste disposal easier.

Ask Angela: Helping crew members feel safe after the shutdown

Angela Phillips is a Senior Account Manager III at ZTERS Waste Solutions. She helps customers with some of their most challenging site service issues, and she answers your questions here on our website.

Dear Angela, Now that work is ramping back up from the Covid-19 shutdown, how can we help our crew members feel safe being back on the worksite?

This is a great question that a lot of people are asking right now. We know many construction sites continued operation throughout the shutdown because construction is considered an essential business in many places. However, we’re also seeing areas that were previously shut down now slowly starting to resume projects. Every state is different, and we’ve seen a wide range of experiences with our customers.

Like most businesses, we keep a close eye on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and they have a Community Mitigation Framework with guidelines around protecting workers and the public in general when congregating at work or in public places. This includes things like practicing social distancing of at least six feet, hand washing regularly, sanitizing areas more frequently, and wearing masks where appropriate.

On a construction site, some of these things can be more difficult—sometimes two-person lifting means you have to stand closer than six feet! However, there are still protections we’re seeing our customers and vendors implement.

For one, portable toilets and common areas like mobile offices are being disinfected more frequently and many jobsites are ordering extra handwashing stations to make sure people can wash their hands more frequently.

We also see a lot of safety managers recommending crew members practice social distancing as much as possible and wear a mask when it doesn’t affect the safety of the work you’re doing. We also see some sites requiring crew members to take their temperature before starting work.

The Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America put out a series of guidelines around worker safety in a post-COVID-19 world. They have social distancing recommendations specifically for construction sites. This includes a “no congregation” rule and not allowing food trucks on worksites. This may mean having safety meetings in smaller groups and asking crew members to bring their own lunch and space themselves further than six feet apart when they eat.  

It’s a good idea to check with your local regulatory agencies to find out if there are any special requirements in your area.

There will definitely be an adjustment period to these new rules. We recommend our customers use resources like these to come up with a written safety plan and communicate it to crew members. Having a written plan and following safety guidelines will go a long way toward protecting crew members and helping people feel safe being back on the jobsite.

We know there have been a lot of delays and back orders when it comes to handwashing stations, so give us a call to find out what’s available in your area and how to get more coverage on your site.