Below is our recent interview with David Rachelson, Vice President of Sustainability at Rubicon Global:
Q: Could you please provide our TechCompanyNews.com readers with a brief introduction to Rubicon Global?
A: Rubicon Global is a technology company born in the waste and recycling industry, a fact that sets us apart from both technology and waste and recycling companies. Rubicon powers a digital marketplace, provides a suite of SaaS products for waste, recycling, and smart city solutions, and collects and analyzes data for businesses and governments worldwide. Our mission is to end waste in all of its forms; referring not just physical waste, but also leveraging technology to eliminate wasted time, energy, and resources.
Q: You speak at events around the world on topics ranging from sustainability to the importance of technology for the future of the waste and recycling industry. Considering the global popularity of these ideas, where would you say the appetite for these areas comes from?
A: The one thing that I continue to notice when talking with people here in the United States, and when I speak at events abroad, is that people want to do the right thing when it comes to recycling and sustainability.. They really do. Unfortunately they often tell me that knowing how to do the right thing can be confusing, as understanding what and how to recycle from one city to the next (let alone from one state or country to the next) is all-but impossible. We created the RUBICONMethod to help make this an easier process to understand.
Q: I’ve heard of the RUBICONMethod. Can you define it for our readers and describe how it helps business owners?
A: The RUBICONMethod is a system which capitalizes on the movement toward zero waste in a simple process to achieve maximum buy-in and remove the complexity. Its simplicity appeals to large, multi-site and international businesses, as well as small, independent, local business with only one store. It is all about diverting more waste out of landfills and into different recycling streams through smarter, sustainability solutions. The RUBICONMethod breaks down into six key steps, which we call DIVERT, for ease of use and remembrance:
● Determine the current state of the waste and recycling program, accepted materials and local regulations, and the needs, goals, and opportunities of the program;
● Initiate a new plan for waste and recycling collection that includes optimized services and hauler schedules;
● Vocalize the program improvements to staff, vendors, and custodians; designate what to recycle through picture-based signage; and evangelize internal team leaders for feedback and questions;
● Eliminate food waste, disposable tableware, and non-recyclables from daily use wherever possible;
● Roll-out side-by-side bin stations, color-coded bin liners (landfill, recycling, compost), and bins for donations and hard-to-recycle materials; and
● Track your recycling rates and bin contamination, sustainability goals, and reporting of those results.
Q: How would you define the circular economy?
A: The circular economy looks to prevent the depletion of finite natural resources and instead better use the natural resources we’ve already extracted to extend their useful lives. This is about finding new ways an item can be used, that otherwise would been thrown in the waste. Examples could include upcycling an old uniforms into tote bags or blankets, or taking PET bottles and making yarn for clothing.
Q: Walk us through the type of services and improvements a company large or small could expect from becoming a Rubicon customer?
A: When speaking with new customers, we let them know that they have a choice surrounding who services their waste and recycling. This isn’t always obvious to business owners who have for a long time viewed their pickups as a utility. We’ll then work with them to see what service options we can offer, while ensuring we don’t over-service them.
Based on the type of customer, we will build in a strategy to help them with their mission to end waste and move toward a more circular economy by showing them the hidden value in their trash—be it through composting, recycling, or other diversion strategies. If the customer is city, we may pull in our technology underpinning, which will give municipalities data and insights to make smarter decisions on hauling ratios and route optimization. Regardless of customer size, Rubicon has the solution strategy in place to help that customer with their sustainability goals.
Q: What do you think the number one challenge is for the problem of ocean plastic waste, and what can Rubicon do to help solve it?
A: We need to address fundamental problems in global waste and recycling practices if we’re ever going to solve the ocean plastic crisis. The recent tragic story that a whale was found washed up on a beach in the Philippines with a total of 88 pounds of plastic products inside its body is just one in a long line of stories of this kind that show the striking danger this type of waste presents.. We need to make systemic changes that incentivize material producers, product manufacturers, and recovery systems to abandon dependence on single-use plastics. Instead, we need to advance widespread adoption of circular solutions that create value from materials already in circulation, redirecting waste generated from the prevailing linear take-make-dispose model as inputs for new products.
Q: Lastly, Rubicon is one of only 2,700 B Corporations that exist today. B Corporations serve a greater purpose and are a force for social good, a rare certification club to be in. Why is working for a B Corp important to you?
A: We have been a Certified B Corporation since 2012, a fact that the company is extremely proud of. Part of this is due to us providing the best workplace and benefits possible for our employees, but beyond this we are recognized as a B Corp because we make our decisions based on good environmental, social or governance (ESG) practices—a fact which for me, is the entire ballgame.