The Secret Life of a Load

November 29, 2023

Do you ever wonder what happens once you call NRRA to request a pickup of your recyclable materials? 

Our Logistics Manager, Stacey Morrison, was kind enough to walk us through all that happens behind the scenes once you submit a request for pickup to the logistics team by phone, load request form, or email. That's when the secret life of a load of recyclables begins! 

The logistics department is a very busy but well-oiled machine consisting of our Logistics Manager, Logistics Coordinator, and Administrative Specialist. Together, we help our 450+ members with their logistics-related needs and questions. This includes requests for standard pickup or delivery requests, for baled plastic, fibers, aluminum, and steel pickups, to purchase baling wire and gripples, tracking member loads that are on a routine schedule. Our logistics team also works hard to resolve any issues pertaining to member material loads, pickups, deliveries, or price discrepancies.

Standard Loads - Logistics Processing

Standard loads include items like scrap metal, loose aluminum or steel cans, loose fibers, C&D, tires, freon, propane tanks, electronics, bulbs, loose commingled plastics, single stream, and municipal solid waste (trash). Pricing for most of this material is either governed by a municipality's contract or by set pricing we automatically obtain from each vendor on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on the vendor. Most often with standard loads the destination - the vendor - of our member material is determined based on several factors that make that particular vendor destination most advantageous for our member. 

Once a load is received, it is immediately entered into the NRRA database and an email order is sent to the vendor. If needed, an email order is also sent to a separate third-party hauler to move the material. Many vendors and haulers get back to us within just a couple of days with a specific pickup date. Others, like our tire, freon, and propane tank vendors, can take up to several weeks to give us a service date. Once we have a confirmed pickup date, we send a confirmation form to our member facility to let them know the pick update and other important details of the load.   

Baled Loads - Logistics Processing

Baled loads are slightly more complicated and can take more time to arrange. Baled materials - depending on market conditions - are coveted items for many vendors. Because of this, when a member submits a request for either a quote or movement of baled materials, we take great care to get as much detailed information about the material as possible, including: type of material, number of bales, approximate bale or load weight, and photos of the material to be shipped out. We use this information to send a bid request to the NRRA vendors who specialize in that particular material (Fibers, Plastics, Metals, and Cans).

Bids & Transportation

Though our goal is to obtain the best possible pricing for our member material, there are many factors that can affect commodity pricing, such as: 

  • Current market value  
  • External factors including the current import/export climate or the cost of fuel 
  • Whether or not the vendor is supplying the transportation or a third party hauler is needed
  • Member and vendor location (this can affect the transportation cost, which then affects the commodity price)
  • Condition of the material (clean and dry material is worth more money) 
  • Total weight of the load

It should be noted that many vendors have a minimum weight requirement upon which they base their pricing. If the load of material weighs less than what we approximated when we sold it to them OR it simply weighs less than their minimum allowable, there will be weight deductions.

Some vendors offer Freight On Board (FOB) pricing, which means their pricing includes transportation charges and they will be handling the logistics of hiring a hauler and setting up the pickup date. This is often the most cost-effective way to go when market pricing is low. The downside is that NRRA has very little control over estimate times of arrival and trucks that show up (or don’t show up) when they’re supposed to.   

When commodity pricing is high, or if we have a vendor offering better pricing based on NRRA handling the transportation, we work to bid out the transportation to make sure our member is still getting a good deal. We then enter the bid and additional key information into our database, including the commodity and haul prices, and compare them to any vendor who is offering FOB pricing. This ensures our member is still getting the very best pricing for moving their baled materials. 

Once the best pricing scenario is established, we review the price with our member (if they wish) and then send the order out to both the vendor and the hauler (if applicable), along with any specific pickup date requests the member may have given us.   

Tracking the Load

We track the load and pickup date until it has been picked up and is heading to the vendor. We track orders carefully, including a “No Dates” report which is routinely reviewed to ensure that we are especially on top of orders that are waiting on pickup dates and follow up regularly with any load that has been sitting in the database without a date beyond a reasonable time for that material. If needed, we will send a gentle (or firm) follow up email to the vendor or hauler to lock in a date. 

It should be noted that there are several factors that can delay a pickup of baled material including the availability of space at the vendor mill (some mills can only accept a specified number of loads per week), weather, limited member loading hours, and most importantly, TRUCKING

Yes, TRUCKING is often the biggest factor in delayed pickups. Stacey could - and probably someday will - write an entire article on trucking alone. Let’s just say, there are a lot of factors that affect trucking regardless of who is responsible for arranging it. 

When a Load Just Needs to Move

Sometimes the most important factor for a facility is not pricing. Some members have very limited storage capacity and simply need to move the material to make room for more. When we are aware of situations like this, we still go out of our way to find the very best price from the vendor who can likely move that load the fastest. 

Once your material has been picked up and scaled in by our vendor, our finance department gets to work on obtaining the final weights and ensuring that our members are properly and efficiently compensated for their material. 

And now you know what happens to all of the wonderful recyclable commodities that you send through NRRA! 

Have questions? Reach out to our Logistics Team at 603-736-4401 or at