You drive 700 miles across multiple state lines to deliver a truckload of salad greens to a local grocer. You arrive in the wee hours of the morning to begin unloading the trailer, only to notice that a few bags of lettuce are squished, and the leaves of the product are a little bent. The lettuce certainly isn’t damaged beyond use, but the grocer rejects the load anyway. Now what?
A rejected load can be a hopeless feeling for an independent contractor. As both a driver and a business owner, your time really is money. You don’t have the time to keep all this lettuce in your truck, but you’re not sure what to do with it, either.
Take Care of the Paperwork
The first step when you’re notified a load has been rejected is to take care of the paperwork. Send in the claim to your insurance provider, along with a few images of the product, and make sure to specify why it was rejected. In most cases, insurance will cover the cost of the rejected load, so you won’t end up losing money on it.
After notifying insurance, reach out to your dispatcher (or the shipper directly, if you have their contact info) and let them know what’s going on with the load. Your dispatcher will be able to get into touch with the shipper to find out their unique procedure for rejected goods. Some freight, such as certain spoiled meat or beer, must be destroyed upon rejection. Many shippers, though, don’t have a specific procedure for the freight – instead, the decision is left up to the driver. The best kept load-rejection secret is that most goods can be donated.
Donate Rejected Items
It’s a well-known fact of trucking that perfectly-fit-to-eat duplicate loads of produce are sometimes rejected by grocers or distributors. Many food banks across the country will gladly take those perishable, or nonperishable items. Some food banks even have their own warehousing, and are capable of accepting in an entire truckload’s worth of freight. When you first call the food bank to notify them of your delivery, they will probably ask you a series of questions about the product in question, to determine whether they can indeed accept it. If they are able to take the freight, most food banks will even help you unload the trailer.
So, why is donation not the standard procedure for rejected freight? Ultimately, it comes down to accessibility. The idea of calling up a food bank, that very same food bank accepting the freight immediately, and you going on your merry way sounds easy enough. But the reality is that sometimes, drivers who decide to donate their freight end up spending days calling different food banks to get everything sorted.
Indy Food Drop Program
As we’ve mentioned in other posts, here at FreightRover we are very proud to be headquartered in Indianapolis, the cross-roads of America. Indy is transportation-focused, and innovation-centered. And to prove that point, the Midwest Food Bank in Indianapolis recently launched Indy Food Drop to solve the rejected freight problem altogether. The Midwest Food Bank created Indyfooddrop.org for drivers to visit upon freight rejection. A driver can go to the site, view the four participating food banks across Indianapolis, get their direct contact info, and even learn the limit of freight that each bank can accept. Indy Food Drop worked with multi-temp facilities, such as Sysco and Merchandise Warehouse, to dedicate space to the project.
“We feel confident we can handle all of the incoming loads that will come through this system,” says John Whitaker, Executive Director of the Midwest Food Bank.
The site outlines what products can typically be donated, and what drivers can expect upon dropping the food off at the food bank.
The idea is a simple one, but surprisingly, there are no other similar programs in Indiana, or many other states. The Midwest Food Bank is currently running the site for a 6-12-month pilot period, and then plans to start offering their services to state food banks and “Super Pantries.”
“Ultimately, we would like to see this as a national project incorporating all aspects of the trucking industry and using tools developed to enhance its effectiveness,” says Whitaker.
Compost Freight to be Destroyed
Sometimes, there is no way around it – the freight has to be destroyed. For now, freight requested to be destroyed just ends up in a landfill. In the future, though, the Wayne County Food Cooperative in Indiana will solve that problem, too. Whitaker is currently working with the Food Cooperative to put together a program for rejected freight. They plan to take the waste and compost it, rather than tossing it in a landfill.
“Composting allows us to take a load without the expense of disposal, and turn it back into a resource for the community,” says Whitaker. “That means that if half the load is bad, we will still be able to take it, and just compost the rest.”
The Indy Food Drop program has received both local and national attention for its innovative solution to a double-headed problem. Now, drivers no longer have to worry about what to do with a rejected load, and can instead feel confident in the fact that the freight is helping out an entire community. For more information on other Indianapolis technological innovations for the trucking industry, or to learn how FreightRover fits into the equation of load solutions, contact us today!