McDonald’s sees supersized savings using dumpster cameras to monitor waste

When it comes to the most popular fast food restaurants, there’s McDonald’s and then everyone else.

According to QSR magazine, McDonald’s U.S. operations had sales of $ 40.41 billion in 2019. The next up were Starbucks ($ 21.55 billion), Chick-Fil-A ($ 11 billion), Taco Bell ($ 11 billion), and Burger King ($ 10.3 billion).

With nearly double the sales of the next largest player in the market, it’s easy to see why the burger chain heavyweight recently looked for a way to manage its trash more effectively.

In particular, McDonald’s invested heavily in Compology’s dumpster surveillance cameras and sensors in locations across the country – mostly last year – to better track waste and recycle generation.

Compology, a San Francisco-based startup that has been manufacturing dumpster-mounted cameras and sensors since 2013, enables operators to monitor the contents of their waste bins to determine fill levels, required pick-up intervals, and contamination. These AI-powered devices can send messages to customers when the technology detects that foreign materials have been placed where they don’t belong, e.g. B. when garbage bags are thrown in a dumpster dedicated to the recycling of cardboard. These devices also allow generators to schedule waste collection only when their containers are at capacity, reducing unnecessary trips (and costs) from waste trucks.

According to Jason Gates, Founder and CEO of Compology, McDonald’s has locations in the United States that use its services. It is estimated that around 10 percent of all sites are currently equipped with the company’s surveillance equipment.

In a recent interview with CNN, Gates shared a specific example of how the company’s cameras were used at a McDonald’s location in Las Vegas to notify employees when the wrong materials were put in a recycling bin.

“When we saw the garbage bags go into the cardboard bins, we sent a notification to the local people via text message to let them know they should remove them before the truck arrives the next morning and let them know that Trash is put in the recycling bin is a form of contamination that you shouldn’t be doing in the future, “he said.

Because of this functionality, Gates Compology devices can reduce contamination in the recycling stream by up to 80 percent.

Brent Bohn, who owns dozens of McDonald’s restaurants in Las Vegas and Phoenix, told CNN that the company’s use of compology equipment helped keep its sites’ recycling dumpsters free of waste.

“The cameras have really streamlined that for us and made us accountable, but also our suppliers and the carriers we work with,” said Bohn.

According to Gates, Compology’s cameras have captured more than 80 million images from the 162,000 cameras installed to date. As these cameras can better see what is contamination and what is not the more data they process, users benefit as these systems keep getting smarter.

“The more pictures we get of the inside of dumpsters, the more accurate we can be,” said Gates.

Gates says his service costs between $ 10 and $ 20 per month per dumpster, but that companies generally save thousands of dollars per dumpster per year in waste costs by reducing unnecessary garbage collection and fines from contaminated loads.

Referring specifically to McDonald’s, Gates says the company is getting roughly 14 times the ROI of the technology because of these savings.

Given the potential for such ROI and the continued pursuit of more sustainable activities at large companies, Gates plans to accelerate the adoption of the company’s waste solutions in the coming year. The company’s customer base currently includes Fortune 1000 companies such as ADT Security, Nordstrom and Capital One.

“We have had great success in the fast-food restaurant (QSR) segment with McDonald’s and many other top brands, and we expect to build on that momentum in 2021,” he says.

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