Rubicon Global — a technology company providing waste, recycling and smart city solutions to businesses and governments worldwide — along with the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Business School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) and surplus food donation-management platform Goodr, tonight announced the list of inaugural “Waste Fit Champions,” a program designed to recognize the best sustainability leaders that are cutting down on waste, improving recycling and delivering on sustainability at their respective organizations.
The announcement was made by David Rachelson, Rubicon’s VP of Sustainability, at a reception during Sustainable Brands’ New Metrics ‘18 conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Along with Rachelson, the two other featured judges — Joanne Spigonardo, Senior Associate Director of Business Development for Wharton IGEL; and Goodr CEO Jasmine Crowe — judged the nominees based on their emphasis on waste reduction in their organizations. Demonstrating resourcefulness and commitment, each Waste Fit Champion found creative ways to reduce waste in their respective organizations. Some adopted circular economy best practices, while others improved recycling, among other efforts. All of the winners achieved significant impact in their workplace.
“These companies, governments and organizations that earned the title of Waste Fit Champion are undertaking key steps to solve the waste reduction challenges with circular economy best practices and a detailed focus on recycling and waste reduction,” Rachelson said during the reception. “We are proud to recognize all of these great companies and organizations demonstrating sustainability innovation and we look forward to following each of them as they continue to progress on their path to zero waste.”
Waste Fit Champions on their success
We caught up with some of the winners to learn more about their accomplishments.
Theresa Millard, Kohler Co.
Theresa Millard, Sustainability & Stewardship Project Manager at Kohler Co., asked the question, “What if we looked at waste differently?” and the result was the formation of Kohler’s WasteLAB. In the lab, Millard’s team views the solid waste by-products of factory and service processes not a “waste” stream as input or raw material that can be used for other processes. Under Millard’s passionate leadership, the WasteLAB is now close to turning industrial waste into high-end tiles for Ann Sacks, some made from 100 percent waste materials.
“It’s an honor to represent Kohler and the WasteLAB as a Waste Fit Champion,” Millard told Sustainable Brands, before sharing the insight that spurred her creativity. ”I believe that changing the way we look at waste — the value we put on the materials we use — has the potential to dramatically reduce our impact on the environment.”
But, achieving this impact can’t be just one person or one company. She observed, “It will take all of us working together to change minds and influence behaviors.”
Changing ingrained attitudes can be difficult, and Millard offered this advice to other aspiring Waste Fit Champions: “Find like-minded people to join you, and look for quick wins to demonstrate value to your organization. Be belligerent. This really matters!”
Millard already has ideas for her next challenge. “We’re starting to look at larger waste streams and new products, and find partners to work with,” she shared.
Veejay Patell, bioDOGradable
“Single-use plastics have always bothered me,” stated Veejay Patell, Director of Operations at bioDOGradable, a Southern California-based producer of compostable plastic bags and other pet-waste management solutions. “They have a very small time of use and very long life cycle. Plus, they consume an enormous amount of resources.”
That’s what drove Patell to look into renewable materials and create bioDOGradable Pet Waste bags. His goal: Eliminate environmentally harmful plastic pet waste bags.
Patell said one of the biggest challenges he faces is greenwashing from other manufacturers of proported “green” or oxo-degradable bags. “Those products confuse consumers, but our continuous efforts to educate consumers about renewable and compostable bags have given us a place in the market now,” he explained.
Hopefully, being named a Waste Fit Champion will help Patell and BioDOGradable overcome that misunderstanding.
“Winning the Waste Fit Championship award definitely will provide us with a great opportunity for increasing recognition of our new-generation renewable material technology,” he shared. “It's a big plus that we can to convey to consumers.”
BioDOGradable is now launching a general consumer product line with a Home Pet Waste Composter, to provide a complete, circular solution and solve other pet waste disposal issues.
The complete list of winners
The winning organizations and executives (in alphabetical order of organization name) are as follows:
- Anne Gonzalez, AmerisourceBergen
- Erin Hatcher, AMLI Residential
- William Schubert, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, LLC
- Veejay Patell, BioDOGradable
- Dave Stangis, Campbell Soup Company
- Caitlin Leibert, Chipotle
- Michelle Wiseman, City of Atlanta
- Caitlin May, City of Fort Collins
- Annette Synowiec, City of Toronto
- Dave McLaughlin, Clean Ocean Access
- Emily Bishop, Cushman & Wakefield/Mastercard
- Eunice Heath, The Dow Chemical Company
- Jennifer Ballen, Drinkworks
- Alison Mountford, Ends and Stems
- Nicholas McCulloch, Farmer Brothers Coffee
- Marilyn Perez, Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown
- Ross Bergman, Humanscale
- Mike Marotto, Keurig Dr Pepper
- Jennifer Shaffer, Kimberly-Clark Professional
- Theresa Millard, Kohler Co.
- James Korman, Korman Residential Properties
- Andrew Shakman, LeanPath
- Emma Riley, Lonely Whale
- Lisa Manley, Mars, Inc.
- Steven Korner, Method
- Sam Chereskin, Misadventure & Co.
- Tobin Moore, Optoro, Inc.
- Kelsey Morgan, Oracle
- Scott Lutocka, Piazza Produce, LLC
- Maen Mahfoud, Replate
- Megan Jorgenson, Snooze
- Pamela Henman, Southface
- Gregory Woodworth, Stony Brook Whole Hearted Foods
- Amy Ross, SunTrust Bank
- Phil Metro, Superior Essex International LP
- Kevin Quandt, Sweetgreen
- Christina Brooks, UBM
- Kelly Offner, United by Blue
- Matthew Hawks, Vericool, Inc.
- Damian Foxall, Vestas 11th Hour Racing — Professional Sports Team
- Chris Foote, Wegmans Food Markets
- Shea Jameel, Welltower
For a detailed breakdown of the winners and background information, visit https://www.rubiconglobal.com/wastefit-champions/.