Safety In The Recycling Industry

The Importance Of Safety In The Recycling Industry

At Quincy Recycle, safety is one of our top priorities. Recycling may not be one of the first industries that come to mind when you think about jobs with a high risk to health and safety. But, did you ever stop and think about the types of materials collected and sorted?

In their most recent report published in December 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics rated the recycling industry as the 5th most dangerous in America. Today we will talk about why safety is so important to us by highlighting some of the common health and safety risks associated with the recycling industry and how we address them in our facilities.

5 Common Health and Safety Risks in Recycling

1. Large and Moving Machinery

Processing large quantities of plastic, metal, and other recyclable materials requires big machinery. Compactors, balers, conveyor belts, and sorting machines are regular fixtures in recycling plants. All of these can cause injury if adequate operating and maintenance procedures are not put in place.

Robust safety protocols and checklists are in place across all Quincy Recycle locations. Equipment is inspected regularly and when maintenance or repair is required, a “lock-out and tag-out” protocol is strictly enforced to ensure the machinery is in proper working order before being put back into service. From their first day of employment, each member of our team goes through extensive safety and operator training. Training is ongoing and takes place on a regular and frequent basis at each of our facilities.

2. Trucks and Other Big Vehicles

In order to haul and move large loads of material, you need trucks, forklifts and other big vehicles. Any time you have large vehicles in the same place as pedestrians you have a safety risk.

Operator awareness is a top priority at Quincy Recycle. From training to operator certifications, we make sure anyone operating a large vehicle at our facility is qualified and adhering to necessary safety protocols. We also utilize tools like glad hand locks. Trailers come and go from our facilities all the time and a glad hand lock prevents a truck from hooking up to the trailer while someone is inside working.

3. Repetitive Motion

Recycling workers move a lot. They reach, twist, jump, and bend to sort and process items daily. The absence of a well-organized and ergonomic workspace can lead to injury over time.

We spend a lot of time training and promoting best safety practices at Quincy Recycle, and that includes steps to prevent injury due to repetitive motion. Our plants are designed with a layout to help our team members be as efficient as possible, which goes a long way in helping keep them safe and injury-free.

4. Respiratory Hazards

Recyclable materials produce a lot of dust. Without proper safety equipment and ventilation, small particles from materials we process such as paper, plastic, cardboard, and other contaminants can pose harm to workers.

Quincy Recycle provides all employees with dust masks and safety glasses to protect against airborne contaminants. In addition, our facilities are outfitted with air ventilation systems to help remove dust from the air key locations throughout the plant.

5. Biohazards

Sorting through mixed-commodity loads presents some risks. Sharp objects, industrial chemicals, and other biohazards can be present and must be handled carefully to avoid injury.

We take a proactive approach to make sure we know exactly what is coming into our facilities. Utilizing safety data sheets, our team can confirm the former contents of products such as fiber or plastic drums to ensure nothing comes into the plant that shouldn’t. We also provide our team with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to help keep them safe when handling the wide variety of material that comes through our plants each day. Along with PPE, you’ll also find first-aid and bloodborne pathogen kits in each of our facilities.

Quincy Recycle Promotes A Safety-Focused Culture

Safety is part of our culture at Quincy Recycle. In fact, it is one of our core values. We don’t take the risks associated with our industry lightly and have put a lot of time and energy into making sure our facilities are safe.

“It starts at the top. Everyone across our organization is fully committed to running a safe operation. Our first core value is “Alive and Well” because safety is part of everything we do at Quincy Recycle. Many of our facilities boast lengthy safety records which is a real testament to the buy-in and dedication from everyone on the team.” – Philip J. Hildebrand, Jr., Quincy Recycle

Why is this so important?

To us, it’s simple – our team is our family. Keeping them safe is our first priority. And, in turn, our commitment to health and safety allows us to provide consistent service our partners can depend on whenever they need us.


Are you ready to take the first step toward achieving your sustainability goals?

Contact us today and together we can make an impact. We offer a wide variety of services designed to meet your specific needs.


Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for the latest in industry news, recycling trends, and more!



What to expect from your Quincy Recycle Reports

Reporting can mean many things in the manufacturing and recycling industries. Technology and customer requests can span a large spectrum of reports. The most important thing to remember in any report is that you are providing data that is important to your customers and to you. This can help improve relationships with customers, employees, and especially our vendors. We value efficiency, effectiveness, and most of all – we value our teams and customers, which includes our vendors. We focus on creating processes and strategies that will create the most positive experience between our employees and vendors.

At Quincy Recycle we pride ourselves on providing our vendors with the most detailed and efficient reporting to help us both be better business partners for each other. So what does that reporting look like? Let us show you.

Dunder Muflin Report Wayne Enterprises Report

When we talk about reporting, we are talking about the processes that allow the most effective communication between all of our functioning parties – vendors and employees alike. Reporting is a great way to compile information during things like ongoing projects and long-term vendor relationships, and most importantly, keep that information organized and presented to our vendors in a way that works for them.

Our most utilized reporting processes are landfill diversion reports, multiple location reports, and excel reports. The types of reporting vary depending on the vendor and their needs. For example, when a truck load comes in from a food manufacturer vendor, they unload it, report what was on the delivery, deliver that to the Account and Logistics Coordinator, and that ALC then creates a receiving report. A receiving report is a formal document of everything that was on that load by commodity, weight, price, etc., and that is all ultimately sent to the vendor in the format that makes the most sense for them specifically.

Some vendors prefer a more intensive form of recorded information, while others prefer no additional recording at all and would like to receive the invoice that comes with the payment. Some vendors get the whole receiver, some want a weekly report. For specific industries, they may just want the weights in commodities, not the rebate, with a download of the quarterly update in Excel with a commodity breakdown.

Whichever way you prefer your reporting is ready to be executed by our team – end of story.

Reporting is very important to us here at Quincy Recycle, as it has become a highly valued practice amongst our Account and Logistic Coordinators. Creating reports, and maintaining those reports, not only improves our accuracy, but it also builds the relationships that we strive for with our vendors.

Not only is reporting important for this reason, but it also allows us to properly analyze information such as how many tons/pounds were pulled out of a landfill and introduced into a recycle or reuse stream. That material or waste did not go into a landfill, which is now a part of the reporting that the vendor will be able to utilize, as well as Quincy Recycle.

Reporting can look different depending on the vendor. We are focused on creating a reporting process that fits each vendors’ needs, as it is not a one size fits all industry! Some clients prefer weekly reporting, while others may only prefer end of month reports.

In terms of who utilizes our reporting processes, as well as why they would need them, let us show you a few examples.

  • A food manufacturer vendor that requires a monthly statement for all commodities shipped, weighed, and paid for by Quincy Recycle.
  • A soda and beverage company that requires them to use their report format with market pricing on the 7th day of every month.
  • A contract packager that wants us to aggregate eight locations into one monthly report which includes all regions of the US.
  • A meat and poultry processor that needed a monthly report for landfill diversion while still focusing on the recyclables volume amount.

Our primary focus in terms of proper reporting comes down to one thing: listening. Asking questions and hearing what the needs of our vendors are is the foundation of our reporting processes.

Overall, we strategize by asking the client questions on how they would like to see the reporting, and then following up with questions once they see the reporting to ensure that it matches their needs.  We want to make it easy to do business with Quincy Recycle, which is why we are adamant to customize and cater the reporting to the vendors’ needs, whatever that may entail.

Have questions about improving your reporting processes? Contact us today. 

Employee Spotlight: Carol O’Connell

Passionate. That’s just one of the terms people use to describe Carol O’Connell. Her enthusiasm for Quincy Recycle is infectious. She helps ensure that the company culture is not only communicated to people internally, but is a big part of how that culture translates to customer service and our interactions with our vendors.

When did you start with Quincy Recycle?

My first day with Quincy Recycle was 7/7/2014 which is easy to remember since 7+7=14.

What was your job title when you started?

I was hired as the Outbound Accounts & Logistics Coordinator for our New Haven, IN facility. I was living in Quincy, IL (my hometown) at the time and a dear friend, Danielle Jacobs, referred me for the position.  I moved from Quincy, IL to Fort Wayne, IN for the position and opportunity to work for Quincy Recycle.  I’m not a fan of hot weather and Fort Wayne gets quite a bit of snow so it was a good fit!  The team at the New Haven plant quickly became like family.

What is your current title?

That is a great question.  Short answer: Trainer.  Long answer: My hat changes hour by hour and day to day depending on the needs of the business and our employees.  My main responsibilities include training new Account & Logistics Coordinators (ALC’s) and Sales Coordinators and covering for said positions when an employee is on a long vacation, maternity leave, turnover, etc.  I work closely with two of our largest customers and enjoy building relationships with the various vendors and customers we partner with.

One of the benefits to my position is that I travel to all of our facilities.  We have uniformed processes company wide, but what works for one facility might not work for another.  I get to share ideas with the teams and brainstorm new processes to make us better and more efficient.

Currently, I am planning our annual Customer Service Summit this September.  We bring 40+ team members together from all our facilities for two days to build relationships, learn, laugh and make our QRP/QFP families even stronger and more successful.

If you had to pick one, which Core Value is your favorite and why?

Be courageous & try it!  “It’s all fixable” is a common Carol-ism. Our employees are empowered to make decisions and if it works out, it’s a win!  If it doesn’t, then we know we gave it a go and move on to the next option.

What was the most challenging thing to learn in your roles?

I came from the home & holiday décor wholesale industry so working in the recycling field was a completely new challenge for me.  Learning the QRP Lingo took some time. I recall double drop & hook being the hardest freight lingo concept to grasp and now its second nature.  I share with our new employees that it takes 6 to 8 months to feel comfortable and almost 2 years to feel confident in their role with Quincy Recycle.  We are here to support them through the learning curve because there isn’t a short cut.  There is a lot of new to learn!

What was the most surprising or fun thing to learn?

That the first step to recycling cardboard at a paper mill is to push it into a large blender (pulper) filled with water and chemicals.  I’m not sure what I thought the process was, but that was not it.

And the term “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is relevant!  I was getting my mail recently and talking to another tenant when he complained about all the junk mail he received.  My ears perked up because junk mail to him is $$ to me!  Yes, please toss that junk mail into a recyclable container, we will shred it, bale it and sell it to a paper mill who will make it into something new.

What’s your favorite part about working at Quincy Recycle?

Our people are the best of the best.  My position involves 80% travel which allows me to visit all of our facilities and get to know my team members. A lot of people have heard me say this and I’ll continue to say it: “there isn’t one person that works for QRP & affiliates that I wouldn’t go out to lunch with”.  Ugh oh, did I just open myself up to a lot of lunch dates?

What would you like prospective employees to know about Quincy Recycle?

We are a family (One Team, One Dream, One Family) and we care about your family.  Companies will tell you “family first” in interviews, but at QRP we truly mean it.

What are some of your hobbies outside of work?

I really relate to the saying…“You’ve never seen me truly happy unless you’ve gone to a concert with me”.  Whether its Coldplay at Soldier Field or Brett Eldredge in a small venue, I love live music.

When I do get home after traveling, it’s time to catch up on any shows I missed throughout the week.  I love all things Bravo & Andy Cohen.  Southern Charm, Real Housewives, Summer House, Watch What Happens Live, Below Deck – Bravo, Bravo, Freaking Bravo.

I live in downtown Chicago so exploring new restaurants, checking out a neighborhood weekend festival, going to Broadway shows, hanging with friends on their rooftop, anything involving enjoying the city and all it has to offer, I am in!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever read or received?

Received: Do Better. – John Danker

Read: Be here now.

If you had to pick a song to portray the culture of Quincy Recycle, what would it be and why?

I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas.  It’s great upbeat song!

Working with Quincy Recycle

If you are in business, you know that you can’t do it alone. Even when you are starting out as the single staff person, you probably partnered with a lawyer, an accountant, and others to help your business succeed. The more you succeed, the more people you need as you start to build your team and continue to bring new people and partners into your company.

If you are a company that produces things, chances are that you have a recycling partner, but are they the right partner for you? At Quincy Recycle we pride ourselves on being that right partner for all of our vendors. How can we do this? Because we tailor a recycling program to fit the needs of your operations, rather than forcing you to fit into our mold.

From your first meeting with one of our team members, one thing you will notice is that we ask a lot of questions, and we mean A LOT of questions. Our process has to start with questions so that we can understand how your business functions, where your pain points are when it comes to your waste stream, and only then can we find a solution that fits your needs.

When we partner with you our goal is to find ways to say YES to your waste stream goals.  That unique approach means that those solutions take a lot of different forms. For some, it means updating and maintaining equipment. For others, it means being able to have a comingled load. For some it means that we handle all your associated logistics so that you don’t have to think about your waste stream.

Regardless of what your custom solution looks like, there is one thing that all of our partners will have in common. Our entire Quincy Recycle team is here to execute the plan that we create for you. From our drivers to our talented plant teams and our ALC (Account Logistics Coordinators) right on down the line, when you are partner with Quincy Recycle we put our systems to use to solve all of your waste stream problems.

When you partner with Quincy Recycle there are some things you can always count on:

  • We begin by listening – we want to understand the full scope of your operational and sustainability goals
  • Help you identify equipment needs
  • Creation of a customized plan for your operation
  • Ensure the plan makes economic sense for your business
  • Detailed Reporting
  • Prompt Payment
  • Excellent Customer Service

Think this sounds too good to be true? Let us prove it to you. Contact us today and let one of our expert team members provide you with a waste stream audit to see how we can improve your bottom line.