Doing the rounds for waste collection
Rubbish clearance, junk removal, WEEE recycling - AnyJunk does it all. Nick Warburton spends a day on the road with the team to find out what it's like
It is impossible to miss the AnyJunk van stuck in the morning traffic on Kingston Hill. Its bright pink colours stand out a mile away; the company's name emblazoned across all sides. Andrew, the driver, and his colleague Dan are on their way to the first of three jobs, all private properties in the stockbroker belt. They are having trouble locating the address.
But it is only a temporary hold up. On arrival, Dan checks the waste and hands the owner the quote. It is obligation-free. The customer does not have to take up the service. This rarely happens, however, and Dan and Andrew are soon loading the junk into the back of the van. They say that "one man's waste is another man's treasure" and most of what they collect is recycled or reused.
Founded in 2004 by former investment banker Jason Mohr, and claiming to be the UK's largest rubbish removal company, AnyJunk operates 33 trucks from 10 depots nationwide.
"AnyJunk is this fast response bulky waste collection," explains Mohr. "We collect from anywhere, inside or outside the premises. The whole concept is labour included; an easy, fast response and charging depending on what volume we collect. It's a two-man and truck ad-hoc solution for getting rid of stuff that's too big for your bin and making sure it's disposed of responsibly."
The rubbish collected directly for private households makes up only 10% of orders. The bulk of AnyJunk's business comes through commercial contracts and the public sector. "It's an alternative to them getting their own man and van teams or using skips everywhere," says Mohr. "We can cope far better with the ups and downs of demand and we also provide good reporting."
Buildings and maintenance contractors like Vinci Facilities use AnyJunk to remove refurbishment waste from residential properties. "Where they install kitchens, bathrooms or boilers for example, we collect the old units and boilers that have been ripped out," Mohr explains. "We do this on a national scale."
According to Mohr, AnyJunk logs every collection it does, including what the waste is and how much it weighs, through to where it is disposed and how much is recycled. A report is sent to the client. However, road crews cannot accept certain waste materials, such as paints, asbestos and other hazardous waste. Nor are they obliged to respond to all requests.
"We do voids for housing associations and councils and you do get places which have got illegal use, faeces or blood where you need special suits to deal with it. If they see evidence of drug use, they will down tools. The specialists will come in, and then we'll clear afterwards. It's the same with rats. They are also all trained to spot asbestos."
The collection teams have seen it all; from rat infested and drug addled rooms to multi-million pound properties. Andrew and Dan say it is the job's diversity, along with the camaraderie, the freedom of being on the road and the fact that "no day is ever the same" that appeals.
There is also the truck team bonus scheme, which incentivises landfill diversion. Every month, 35% of the income generated from selling junk, primarily metal but also furniture and textiles, goes into a bonus pot.
Each crew member gets a share depending on how much waste they divert from landfill during the month and other factors like productivity and customer feedback. The incentive has helped drive up AnyJunk's landfill diversion rate year on year, claims Mohr.
Looking ahead, he would like to tap into the various bulky waste streams of local authorities, which are typically collected by separate organisations.
"If you put them all together and had one specialist bulky waste organisation managing it, you would get huge economies of proximity and scale, which means lower costs of operation, less carbon footprint and greater opportunities for recycling. In other words, it would save councils money and be a great deal better for the environment."
Nick Warburton is editor of LAWR