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In 2019, Rubicon anchored a portion of employee annual bonuses to the amount of waste reduced across all of its company’s clients. The results have been
In a circular economy, incentives must exist to promote desired outcomes. In a
linear economy, there are little to no incentives to recycle or reduce waste;
the result is plain to see.
For this reason, in 2019, Rubicon created a system
for our own employees — so they would have every incentive to help our customers
and clients achieve waste-reduction goals.
We anchored a portion of employee annual bonuses to the amount of waste reduced
across all of our company’s clients. We set an initial goal for the percent
change in waste diversion over the prior year, and throughout the year we
updated our team on our progress in meeting that goal. This performance metric
demonstrates to our customers, competitors and other stakeholders that our
success depends on the core environmental objective that matters to us most:
We have also included diversion incentives in contracts with certain major
commercial customers. Our compensation from these contracts depends on how much
we help them divert waste from landfills. One such customer adopted a
comprehensive recycling program that includes composting, metal and wood
recycling, and specialized recycling for hard-to-recycle streams. Between
January 2017 and July 2019, we increased their landfill diversion rate by 47
Another way we incentivize our employees to do work to help our customers
achieve their sustainability goals is by awarding one employee per year with the
George Washington Carver Innovation Award. Carver was a scientist and
inventor in a time when separate ideas were often rejected. It could be said
that he was one of the early adopters of Rubicon’s mission to end waste — Carver
created more than 325 different methods for repurposing the humble peanut; he
took the fibers of the peanut plant to make different types of paper, early
plastics, and dyes.
Each year, Rubicon employees are given one month in which they can nominate a
fellow employee for this award — who they believe exemplifies incredible
and who upholds Carver’s legacy of innovation and challenging the status quo. A
joint committee made up of Rubicon employees and senior leaders decide the
eventual winner, with this individual winning a $10,000 cash prize.
For organizational change to work, it needs to come from the top down. This
doesn’t mean that new ideas can’t come from all branches of an organization; but
it does mean that once these ideas have buy-in from the
real and sustainable change can begin to take place.
Published Dec 8, 2020 10am EST / 7am PST / 3pm GMT / 4pm CET
Michael Heller is Chief Administrative & People Officer at Rubicon, a software company that provides smart waste and recycling solutions for businesses and governments worldwide. If you would like to learn more about Rubicon’s sustainability offerings, please reach out to Rubicon’s Sustainability team directly at [email protected].
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.