By Allen F. Weitzel
Once again, the IAAPA discussion group and their quest for information about garbage handling provided my blog topic. Responses could vary depending upon the size, budget and type of a park or attraction. That said, here are “the garbage details” that can be useful in every entertainment facility.
Reasons To Be Clean
Besides reducing safety hazards, guests see a correlation between a clean operation and a well-run, safe facility. If an operation looks messy, guests will perceive it as unsafe. Start at the front door. Assign staff to clean your property line/perimeter. I know of several parks that clean the streets leading to and from the facility, even though it is not their property. They want guests to have a pristine image of the facility as they arrive and leave.
Garbage and Litter
Garbage and litter are both unsightly and can ruin a business reputation. It must be cleaned up on a regular basis. Liability insurance carriers prefer that their insured facilities have documented training procedures for waste clean up. They want to know that clean up is performed regularly and is documented. If someone is injured due to lack of cleanliness, your insurance carrier will rely on your documented procedures and clean up timetable as they address any claim.
Facilities can no longer merely put out a handful of standard garbage cans. We are a green world. Recycle containers accompany the standard garbage can and guests are expected use the proper container for the appropriate debris. Follow your city ordinances and the preferences of your waste management company. Know what needs to be sorted and collected, then layout your waste systems to accommodate those needs.
When employees make their rounds to empty full cans and sweep up litter, be sure their uniforms are clean and the employees well groomed. Again, it is enforcing the image of cleanliness in the guest’s mind. Do not allow employees to walk around with garbage bags hanging out of their pockets. They think it looks cool, but it is a distracting image. If their uniform gets soiled and smelly during the day, require that they change into a clean uniform.
Some parks use carts to pick up cans and then take them backstage to empty and clean them. If you do not use a cart system, train your staff to empty cans when they get three-quarters full, otherwise the inner plastic liner gets too heavy and unwieldy. If your staff is emptying garbage cans at the can’s location, create a system for washing off the lids, sides and edges of receptacles regularly so the garbage smell is curtailed. Food and drink debris leaves a bad impression. Create a consistent garbage can washing program for cans that cannot be thoroughly cleaned at their location, and stick to it. Fermenting garbage juice in the bottom of a can is a real turn off for guests.
To encourage guests to use the garbage cans regularly, have plenty of them located throughout the facility, and positioned so that there is always one can in sight of another. If the guest only has a few feet to go to dispose of their trash, they will do so. Use a container system that does not allow the plastic bag to be seen on the outside of the receptacle. It looks unprofessional. It is called the “skirt.” Hide the skirt. Train employees to promptly clean up any spills in and around the receptacle, whether made by the guest or while emptying the receptacle. This is the eyelash of a clean-looking garbage receptacle.
All of this applies to employee back stage areas as well. It is important that clean up procedures are the same for guest and employee areas, so employees understand the importance of cleanliness.
If cans contain liquid garbage, have your staff double bag it to avoid sticky and hard to clean garbage spills on your walkways or inside carpets. You also do not want bags to burst open while an employee is handling them.
Invite your waste management company to visit your site and seek improvement ideas. Reward departments that keep their behind the scenes work areas clean; invite friendly ‘clean and safe’ competition between departments. Observe other businesses, not just amusement facilities, to pick up new tricks on waste management. All staff including management and on up to the GM, should pick up litter as they see it when they tour the park. This action sends a strong message to both employees and guests that cleanliness is a high priority.