Since first being discovered in late 2019, COVID-19 has left a lasting impact on the global economies and supply chains. While shutdown orders have undoubtedly helped curtail the spread of COVID-19, they have also had an unexpected environmental impact: areas with shutdown orders in place have seen a reduction in air pollution, lower fossil fuel emissions, and better water quality than we’ve seen in decades, calling into question the amount of waste and pollution that businesses, governments, and organizations produce during normal operations. One company leading the way to reduce and ultimately eliminate waste as we know it is Rubicon Global. Through the use of technology and collaboration with businesses and governments worldwide, Rubicon has dedicated themselves to helping businesses become more environmentally sustainable by finding economic value in their waste streams.
This webinar heard directly from Nate Morris, Founder, Chairman, & CEO, of Rubicon, on how Rubicon works with their partners to achieve environmental sustainability as well as the release of their first Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) report in a conversation moderated by Frances Townsend, Executive Vice President for Worldwide Government, Legal and Business Affairs at MacAndrews and Forbes Incorporated; National Security Analyst for CBS News; Former Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush; and Concordia Leadership Council member.
- Rubicon is an industry disruptor, much like Uber and Airbnb. While many of the big players in the waste industry are using dry active waste sorting programs, which are antiquated and can’t collect data, Rubicon is bringing a new generation of leadership into an industry in need of disruption. The primary interests of the traditional industry players are to fill a landfill, with waste companies charging “rent” for garbage being brought to that landfill. Rubicon believes that a system in which landfill owners hold all the power needs to change.
- Rubicon has made headway in cities across the U.S. using its technology as a cost-saving measure to address city budget shortfalls. It has also worked with citizens to ensure the proper separation of waste. It has thus been able to expedite the recycling process by removing contaminants, which in turn has saved time and money for taxpayers.
- Rwanda is a leader in the fight against plastic, stemming from the ban of plastic bags in the country. This begs the question as to why a city like New York—a leader in so many different areas—is not charting the way forward in addressing single-use plastic. Much of this has to do with leadership and government structure, with President Kagame’s emphasis on fighting plastic cited as a key factor in the country’s efforts. Government leadership must work to initially move the needle on the issue, while a country’s municipalities need to be ready to make the jump, with citizens ultimately responsible for spreading real, lasting change.
- Often overlooked is how waste is managed in the construction and infrastructure industries. A first move to creating a more circular waste and recycling system is ensuring that infrastructure waste does not end up in landfills. Environmentally-conscious investors see cities taking action to address this recycling need, creating “green-collar” jobs. As Rubicon envisions, green-collar jobs are a way of putting Americans back to work.
- China has not accepted waste from the U.S. since 2018, forcing the country to confront waste management issues over the long term. Rubicon’s data can inform where domestic investments are made to address the copious amounts of garbage, as well as how these green-collar jobs can be created.
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