Cleveland — Rotomolded plastic trash dumpsters have a bright future over the steel ones — they don't rust, leak out smelly restaurant waste, and make that early-morning banging noise when the truck comes, the bane of the apartment and condo dweller, said Jim Braeunig, president and CEO of Hedstrom Plastics.
They're much lighter, and they can have molded-in graphics.
But it's still a challenge replacing steel dumpsters, he said at the Society of Plastics Engineers' Rotational Molding Conference. Waste hauling companies “have got certain mindsets and they're pretty hard to get them to change,” Braeunig said.
Hedstrom, a rotomolder based in Ashland, Ohio, entered the market in 2012 when the company bought Nuwave Container LLC.
“The plastic dumpster, when we got into it, we got a lot of resistance from the haulers, who were used to metal. We had to prove to them that this dumpster would last long and save money,” Braeunig said. “We had to get them out of their comfort zone. So we started to say, we'll deliver it to you for free. We know that our margins would suffer, but we looked at it as a move into the long-term future.”
Hedstrom also offered some free samples and other special promotions. “We've just kept driving, kept getting into these people's office if we could, calling. Persistence pays off,” he said. “They've got certain mindsets, and they're pretty hard to get them to change.”
The efforts have paid off. Hedstrom generated $1 million in sales in its first year of rotomolded dumpster sales. This year officials are planning for $3.5 million, and that should rise to $7 to $10 million in the next five years, Braeunig said.
Hedstrom has warehouses across the country, so the company is well-positioned to tap the national dumpster market. So far the company is subcontracting rotomolding of the big containers to a molder in California, which Braeunig declined to identify. Hedstrom officials are looking for molding in other parts of the country, he said.
Steel trash dumpsters are less expensive than ones made of high density polyethylene, but Braeunig said that could change as steel prices — which had hit rock bottom — rebound.
Plastics industry leaders also think PE prices should remain stable, thanks to the U.S. boom in hydraulic fracturing.