Rubicon, a smart waste and recycling company founded in Kentucky and led by Kentucky entrepreneur Nate Morris, released Wednesday its inaugural Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report.
Titled Toward a Future Without Waste, the report details an array of sustainability solutions based on the company’s experiences delivering positive environmental results for customers. The report’s examples demonstrate a proven, market-based approach to eliminating waste and bringing a circular economy to reality.
As companies, cities and communities recover from COVID-19, now is the perfect opportunity to rethink how we live, work and consume. Using technology to become more sustainable, more fiscally responsible, and less wasteful is an imperative for the months and years ahead. This report presents a roadmap for how to accomplish those goals.
“For a decade, we have been pursuing technology-based solutions to the serious waste problems facing our country and the world,” said Morris. “The path forward in eliminating waste, reducing emissions, making companies more efficient, and saving taxpayer money, comes directly from the results we have delivered for customers. Our solutions prove that the future is not in landfills, is not in China, and is not ocean dumping. Our future is rooted in using technology to fix real world problems.”
Some of the key findings from the report include:
- Local governments could see significant cost savings and fewer materials unnecessarily going into landfills by making better use of technology. The RUBICONSmartCity technology suite helped the city of Atlanta save up to $783,453 annually, while reducing the recyclables going to landfill by 83%, by adjusting the city’s solid waste service schedule.
- According to one estimate, RUBICONSmartCity technology has the potential to save U.S. cities alone up to $208 million dollars over the next 10 years through reduced disposal costs, optimized fleets and other metrics.
- Companies can increase their diversion rates by repurposing hard-to-recycle products. For example, Chipotle partnered with Rubicon to help keep single-use gloves out of landfills by creating a mail-back pilot program at 25 Chipotle locations. From April through December 2019, Chipotle restaurants recycled more than 625,000 gloves, with a plan to expand the program to all locations. This kind of innovation is especially critical given the dramatic increase in the use of single-use gloves in response to COVID-19.
- Companies in the construction industry, as well as those undertaking large-scale construction projects, could divert significant amounts of waste from landfills and reduce carbon emissions. The Atlanta Hawks, Davaco and Starbucks, among others, worked with Rubicon to do just that, with significant impact.
- Landfills are the third-largest industrial emitter of methane, a greenhouse gas 30-times more potent than the carbon that comes out of passenger vehicles. Food and other organic waste accounts for 46% of solid waste generated every year, and thus represents 8% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. If companies developed partnerships akin to Wegmans, Sweetgreen and others, we could dramatically reduce the amount of food waste in landfills, and the associated methane emissions.
In addition, the report highlights the key role independent waste haulers play in moving toward zero waste. By providing these small businesses with better technology, Rubicon helps haulers design better routes, better monitor the conditions of their trucks and other vehicles, and confirm service calls. By creating a strong network of digitally-connected haulers, Rubicon is breaking the grip of the large waste industry corporations who make money from burying or burning—not recycling—waste.
“Every generation leaves behind a legacy. Ancient Rome left behind engineering marvels including the first major forms of urban sanitation,” Morris noted. “We risk making our own legacy a thick layer of garbage and waste, covering vast spaces of both land and ocean, choking life out of the soil, water and air. Is that what we want?”