RecycleMatch

3 Steps to Achieving Zero Waste

3 Steps to Achieving Zero Waste by Ashley Halligan, an analyst at Software Advice

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, industrial facilities alone produce 7.6 billion tons of solid waste each year. That’s why it’s great that General Motors recently announced its 100th facility to become landfill free–that is, having successfully diverted 100 percent of its waste stream.

General Motors isn’t the first organization to launch a zero-waste initiative. Many North American companies–across a slew of industries, at facilities of all sizes–are implementing similar programs. Kirk Varga, Chief Sales Officer of the International Environmental Alliance (IEA), says.

“A zero-waste initiative is a great way for a facility to stay ahead of the sustainability curve, enhance positive visibility, and save money. But read more

RecycleMatch presents to NASA, NIKE, others at Launch

Recently RecycleMatch’s CEO and Founder, Brooke Farrell, presented to an audience of senior leaders from major corporations and government agencies at an event at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The event and the audience were focused on moving the needle on waste related issues. Click here to see Brooke’s presentation and  read more

Air & Waste Management Association Conference

June 19 – 22, 2012 San Antonio, TX

RecycleMatch was asked to present at the AWMA annual conference in San Antonio, TX recently. The panel included a great variety of speakers focused on waste issues around the world. Speakers included Dr Etsuro Shibata of Japan, Chih-C Chao from Taiwan who organized the panel and spoke on behalf of his associate Peter Halpin, and Maggie Clarke, Ph D from New York’s Hunter College.

One of the most interesting slides for me was Maggie’s slide on the sources of greenhouse gas emissions from a systems view. (see below)

Systems View Emissions

This interesting slide inclusive of all of the sources was a surprise to me, and I already know that there is too much waste in the manufacture, distribution and consumption of goods. Basically, products and packaging represent 44% of our greenhouse emissions. If I had heard that as an off the cuff remark, I might have said “well, that’s coming from the consumption”. Not so. Most of it, 37%, actually comes from the manufacture and distribution, not the consumption. If you think about the production and distribution of food, another 12%, as “packaged goods” of a sort – that leads me to think we really need to revisit manufacturing in a big way.

After all, we’ve revisited building efficiency with LEED certified buildings and have seen a major impact. Companies want to be in a LEED building, people notice it, and architects and suppliers are totally focused on making improvements that help lower impact. As great as that is, the total slice of the pie represented by building HVAC and lighting is only 21%. Yes, that’s big and a big opportunity. But what Maggie has pointed out is that we now need to tackle the big, complex issue of how our food and goods are manufactured, distributed, used, and yes even returned at end of life. This represents an even larger issue, and a larger opportunity.

Here is a PDF version of my presentation for those that are interested. SA AWM Conf

Thank you to Chic C Chao and the organizers of the AWMA conference. I really appreciate the opportunity to share a stage with global thinkers and do-ers focused on waste issues.

The Inside Scoop on RecycleMatch’s Business Model Pivot

March 9, 2012—Brooke Farrell is the Founder and CEO of RecycleMatch, an SaaS platform that accelerates zero waste efforts, streamlines materials management processes and automates sustainability reporting on waste. Brooke recently sat down with Sustainable Brands editor Thomas Miinor to discuss the evolving business model of RecycleMatch and the opportunity around corporate waste recovery and management.

After quickly being dubbed the eBay for Trash, RecycleMatch shifted its business model to software. What spurred that change?

Our initial hypothesis was read more

Using Your Garbage to Enhance Earnings

Great video from GreenBiz featuring David Mendelson, President of Donco. His advice to executives “look at your byproducts as assets, not liabilities”. His formula: “Lower costs, raise revenue, without investing capital”. I think he’s been reading our playbook at RecycleMatch, because that’s exactly what our enterprise software platform does. The subscription based platform provides the tools and information necessary for companies to “figure out the giant jigsaw puzzle” in order to accelerate their zero waste efforts and maximize the return on their ‘waste’ or byproduct materials. read more

Waste 2.0 – Three Ways Technology is Making Waste a Resource

Organizations are spending time and money to become more sustainable but they could do more by leveraging new software and web technologies to maximize their positive environmental impact. There are (at least) three ways software and technology is making waste a resource. The first is the use of software to manage waste and resources like other parts of the organization are managed. Software is used for accounting, inventory, sales, and a multitude of other functions within an organization – why not waste and recyclables? New and larger data streams are helping companies such as retailers to aggregate materials for recycling instead of sending materials to a landfill. Information and data also helps recyclers with determining plant locations and investments in new technologies to make better use of waste streams. For example, Pepsi has developed The Dream Machine – a Kiosk that scans 170k different types of plastics bottles – vital information for local recycling plants in order to pickup and process materials.

The second is that enabling technologies are now available for more transparency and reporting to help to solve environmental problems and create a more efficient eco-system. Corporate Social Responsibility reports are now becoming the norm and companies need software to track and manage the data required for published reports to stakeholders. Reports that include waste data with metrics such as Amount of Waste to Landfill and Waste per lb of Production. Another way technology is transforming the waste market is through social media – and by its very nature social media requires transparency. In a recent study by Sustainable Life Media and Zumer they found that 76% of sustainability professionals interviewed believe social media will help gain market share and increase the size of the overall market. Companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Dell and Toyota combine social media and sustainability to gain market share and acquire customers in new and growing markets. The study also found that read more

5 Ways Your Company Can Get Good at Zero Waste

Good Magazine puts out monthly challenges to it’s readers. The month of July, they are focusing on zero waste, with a challenge of only generating one paper bag’s worth of trash each week (including what they toss at home and the office). The idea of the paper bag is really just a learning tool. When you can actually see and measure how much you are throwing away, suddenly you become much more attuned to the simple steps and solutions to remedy the problem. Most of their readers are thinking of ideas like bringing their reusable mug to Starbucks, or their reusable water bottle to the office.

But companies can play a much bigger role in zero waste. Most people don’t realize that for every 1 pound of trash generated by households in the US, there are over 40 pounds generated by business and industry (based on EPA data).  Companies can take this zero waste challenge too. Here are some ideas:

1. Measure It:  If you aren’t already measuring how much waste read more

Put a Value on Trash and it gets Cleaned Up

Those wise words, “when you put a value on garbage it gets cleaned up” came from Ed Viesturs, one of the world’s premier high-altitude mountaineers, one of a small number who have summited all eight-thousander peaks in the world, often without any additional oxygen. You see, most climbers need extra oxygen that comes in aluminum tanks. And they use all sorts of disposable equipment and supplies to make it to the summit. Since 1953 when Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers known to have reached the summit of Mount Everest, the mountain has turned into a dump – literally collecting an estimated 50-120 tons of litter along with an estimated 120 dead bodies.

Recently, the Chinese government has put a bounty on that litter, offering the equivalent of $1.40 for every kilogram hauled out by expedition members, porters and guides. It isn’t a lot of money considering you have to risk your life to get it. But it’s enough to motivate people to do the right thing. In fact, a team of veteran sherpas has announced plans to clear 8,800 pounds of garbage from the lower part of the mountain and another 2,200 pounds from near the 29,035-foot summit this year.

When you put a value on garbage, it gets cleaned up. This is true for your company just like it is for Everest. Companies spend an estimated $22 billion each year to landfill waste from their operations. And based on estimates from Waste Management, those same materials could be worth from $20-40 billion. If companies read more

RecycleMatch Interns Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Earn their Keep

This is anothReduce Reuse Recycle Run er blog from Olof, Swedish student here in the US interning with RecycleMatch through a program with Innovation Norway and Rice University. The pair of Norwegian interns who assisted RecycleMatch previously warned me that this would not be a cushy corporate job and that the environmental expectations would be high. Intern Snorre rode a bike to work, which is quite a commitment considering that Norwegians aren’t used to the 100 degree heat of Texas summers. Norwegian intern Linda created a video highlighting the work they did to clean trash from waterways, http://zerowasteblog.recyclematch.com/2010/05/30/the-recyclematch-team-helps-clean-up-waterways-by-picking-up-plastic-with-the-trash-bash/ .

This Earth Day, I represented the RecycleMatch team… read more

Poop to Plastics and Other Bio-degradable Technologies

On April 4th, the Coca-cola company launched their new “Plant Bottle”, hailed as the first 100% recyclable plant based bottle. The bottles are made with a 70/30 blend of HDPE and plant based plastics (Odwalla), or a PET and plant based plastics (Dasani). I heard Scott Vitters of Coke talk about this innovation at Opportunity Green last year, and based on the Q&A that day, these bottles can be mixed in and recycled along with traditional curbside recycling – a big improvement from some of the early bio-plastics which gummed up recycling equipment and were hard for consumers to manage.

The new “PlantBottle” is not biodegradable however. Which means that if it makes it’s way into storm sewers, streams and ultimately the Pacific Gyre and other ocean flotillas, it is destined to stay there indefinitely. There is a growing interest in biodegradable plastics that would not only tap into alternative, cheap feedstock for making plastic, but would also help fix this enormous unintended consequence of single use plastics. Here are two of our favorites.

Micromidas turns waste water treatment sludge (yes, that is fancy words for poop) into plastic that is clean, green and biodegradable. And Cyclewood Plastics makes shopping bags that bio-degrade in 150 days in the elements.

 

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Why Reusing and Recycling Chemicals is Important

chemical-recyclingToday’s author is me, Olof, a Swedish student working on my Masters degree in Innovation and Entrepreneurship back home . I am here in the US attending a course about American Entrepreneurship at Rice University in Houston, Texas. I am here to see how entrepreneurship works in the US as a part of my masters degree. The course includes a three month internship at a start up company with great potential to be the next market leader. I feel blessed being here, and the fact that I get to work at a company with high ambitions like RecycleMatch is just awesome.

The concept of recycling has been around for quite a while these days. People are realizing the potential of recycling and the value in doing so. For many years we have been recycling the materials with clear potential value such as; metals, glass, plastics, etc. The question is – for how long will we have to wait until the waste we are putting into landfills at this moment can be reused in a better way. To me RecycleMatch, has made a clear global choice. The choice to help our planet and its residents by reducing the masses put into landfills. Which at the same time means saving big amounts of energy and money by not having to reproduce more than what is absolutely necessary.

Every year lots of valuable material are put into landfills. In the US, chemicals alone are produced to a value of $689 billions which is approximately 20 percent of the total world chemical output[1]. With these kind of volumes it is easy to understand that the environmental impact is big. Even if all of the chemicals produced would be harmless, which they most likely are not, it makes our planet less environmentally friendly. read more

Plastic Resin Recycling Codes – Chasing Arrows or Chasing our Tails?

I have heard a great deal of grumbling lately about the chasing arrows and the plastic resin numbering system. Today I noticed a blog post (full post written by Debra Atlas at Envirothink is below with a link to her original post). I wanted to put this out to my colleagues who are focused on plastic recycling and get your feedback. You know the issues and opportunities in plastics recycling better than anyone. What do YOU think? Are the plastic resin codes sufficient? Accurate? Helpful? If not, who would need to be involved in designing and implementing a replacement system?  According to Plastics News, the ASTM industry association has been working on an update for years. I’ve heard rumblings of other groups considering undertaking this challenge. Is it a worthy challenge? What do you think? read more

Andrew Winston Joins RecycleMatch Advisory Board

RecycleMatch is thrilled to announce that Andrew Winston has joined our Advisory Board. Andrew and Brooke first met at Sustainable Brands 2010 where both were speakers. Andrew’s experience working with large corporations like Bayer, HP, Pepsi, Boeing, and IKEA, who are actively focused on the path to sustainability brings great perspective to our venture. As the best-selling author of Green to Gold, and his latest, Green Recovery, Andrew literally wrote the book on how to align business and environmental objectives, something we are proud to deliver with our pay-for-performance business model.

Below you’ll find the full press release on this exciting announcement. Also, check out Andrew’s recent blog post about zero waste business. read more

Plastic: Too Good to Throw Away

When I read the op-ed piece by Susan Freinkel in the New York Times, I wasn’t sure which part of the plastics discussion she would tackle, but I knew immediately that I agreed with her premise that plastic is too good to throw away. After all, we want to make waste a resource, and today there is a lot of plastic being wasted. Even with PET from plastic bottles, commonly known as a commodity, only around 27% of makes it to recycling. At RecycleMatch, even our customers who are already recycling commodities like PET are finding that they can actually make more money from their recycling efforts by using RecycleMatch. There is so much opportunity in our waste streams, it constantly surprises people just how much value is being lost.

The author’s opinion that we need to rethink how, when and where to use the amazingly flexible material is right on. We’re already seeing new bio-based plastics, and technologies to turn plastics into energy. With so many plastics related opportunities, we wanted to distribute this piece to our readers. In addition, you may want to read related past blog posts like Trash is a 21st Century Gold Mine or Five Not-so-Obvious Things we Learned Picking up Trash

Plastic: Too Good to Throw Away

By SUSAN FREINKEL, Op-Ed Contributor NY Times, Published: March 17, 2011

SINCE the 1930s, when the product first hit the market, there has been a plastic toothbrush in every American bathroom. But if you are one of the growing number of people seeking to purge plastic from their lives, you can now buy a wooden toothbrush with boar’s-hair bristles, along with other such back-to-the-future products as cloth sandwich wrappers, metal storage containers and leather fly swatters.

The urge to avoid plastic is understandable, given reports read more

Quality is of the Utmost Importance on RecycleMatch

By Chris Porch, RecycleMatch CEO – The concept of “quality” is of the utmost importance on RecycleMatch and permeates our site, policies and procedures. Although it is a cornerstone of our business, how we’ve chosen to put this concept into practice has been one of the most misunderstood and questioned aspects of our business so far.  As background, let’s first review what we heard from our beta customers (large and medium size companies, recyclers, brokers, and haulers)

Companies are not going to list the materials that they are sending to landfills if their company name is attached to it.  Confidentiality is a non-negotiable requirement for many of these companies.

Spam and messages that are of a general nature (not specifically about the materials listed) are a major inefficiency and source of dissatisfaction for sellers.

Buyers need reliable, high quality materials that they are not able to find other places.  They want listings to be real and the materials available.  As good as the listings may appear, there are often questions they need answered before they can make a bid and there needs to be a way to get more detailed information while maintaining this confidentiality.

Both buyers and sellers told us they only want to pay for results.  Sellers don’t want to pay to list materials without the promise of a sale and most buyers were unwilling to incur cost unrelated to the transaction.

Quality, confidentiality, results…these requirements are all related and are interdependent.  Let me explain…. read more

#SXSW Panel: Techies Can Save The World – Why Aren’t They?

The mind-blowing, world-changing technology that is coming of age today is ushering in what has been called the next industrial revolution. How can techies use this opportunity to correct the environmental impacts that resulted from the last industrial revolution? If you are going to or following SXSW, you don’t want to miss the panel that brings something for everyone. We have cleantech VCs, entrepreneurs, eco journalists, computer scientists who are working on projects as varied as saving forests, renewable energy, electric vehicles and ridding the world of waste. We hope you’ll bring all kinds of tough questions for our incredible panel focused on the intersection of environment and technology.  read more

What Do You, Our Customers, Think About The New RecycleMatch Website?

By Chris Porch, RecycleMatch CEO. The new site launched and the press has been incredibly positive, there are hundreds of tweets, likes, and LinkedIn mentions.  However, now the most important test is underway….what do you, our customers, think?

First, a big thank you to all our beta customers and many others who’ve taken the time to share their businesses, experiences, and ideas with us.  We couldn’t have gotten to this point without you.

We hope that you notice and experience that over the last year we have done a lot of listening.  As we prepared the new site, we met with large manufacturing companies, haulers, MRFs, recyclers, brokers, and basically anyone that would take the time to explain to us how they do business and how our site could help them reach there zero waste goals or improve their business recycling.  From those meetings we learned about many of the online sites they currently use and what they liked and didn’t like about those sites.  Those conversations and first-hand experiences informed us that there was opportunity for improvement and “a better way.”

The notion that there was a “better way” was reiterated in all of our meetings and focused on a few, but essential, elements that we heard over and over – confidentiality, protection, quality, trust, and results.  Theses elements are big ideas, yet they mean something very specific in this industry.  Over the next several weeks, I’ll discuss in more detail each one and what it means to our customers and how RecycleMatch tries to deliver on each of those essential elements.

The first week of the new site has been exciting.  All of the credit goes to Brooke and Chad.  Together they bootstrapped the company for over a year, having quit their reliable and high-compensating jobs to follow their passion.  They spent more than a year selling their vision, talking to potential customers, trying to raise money, launching a beta site, and working hard for no salary to make their dream a reality.  Their passion and dedication are infectious and I hope it comes through in everything we do.

We want to hear what you think about the new site, both what you really like and areas we can improve.  We’re still listening. And we would love to hear from you. Drop me a line at chris.porch@recyclematch.com.

Drop Your Drawers! Producer Responsibility via Textile Recycling

Everything old is new again thanks to this consumer take-back program where Patagonia illustrates producer responsibility and a zero waste mentality can close the loop.

Patagonia from whatis waste on Vimeo.

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Down with Oil? GM Finds Creative Solution for Oil Soaked Booms

Oil Boom PET RPETSymbolically, today’s GM announcement says that GM is going to be part of the solution to fix what is wrong with the “extractive economy”, and to use the resources at hand. Not only is the Chevy Volt is the first “long range, fully electric car” (although admittedly, it does use gas to recharge the battery after 25-50 miles).

In addition, 62 of GM’s 76 plants are “zero waste”, sending zero waste to landfills. And now, GM is announcing that the Chevy Volt will be made with plastic parts that were recycled from oil soaked booms that were used to clean up the BP oil spill. In the process of recycling the plastic, 100,000 lbs read more

Trash is a 21st Century Gold Mine

CNBC’s Highlights from CNBC’s “Trash Inc., The Secret Life of Garbage” and commentary from RecycleMatch co-founder, Chad Farrell. Recently, many of our friends have watched Trash Inc on CNBC and have told me they were astounded by the numbers reported by the news entertainment program.  That shock was exactly what I felt when my business partner, Brooke Farrell came to me with the spark of an idea that using a web based marketplace for recyclables and waste was an idea whose time had come. Since I did not know much about the waste and trash industry I was a bit skeptical. However, as I researched read more

A Green Building Made From Trash?

It takes some vision to look at a pile of garbage, and see building blocks for an architectural master-piece. When Michael Reynolds sees old tires, glass bottles, aluminum cans and things most of us consider ‘trash’, he sees raw materials to build sustainable housing with self-sufficient, off-the-grid technology. It’s no doubt that some have called his “Earthships” crazy. But others would think it’s crazy to deplete natural resources when there are so many excess materials going to waste. Mr Reynolds has taken on the design challenge of sustainable sourcing and sustainable building with passion. If all designers and architects took the challenge to heartwhat other innovative ideas might we discover?

Earthships from whatis waste on Vimeo.

Newspaper’s Second Life And Paper Mill’s Last Breath

Paper Recycling Virgin ONP Newsprint Paper PulpIf you are reading your Chicago Tribune or flipping through the latest Pottery Barn catalog, it’s probably pretty hard to determine where that paper was sourced. Even harder, is where that paper has been in its lifetime, since its days as a tree. Paper can be recycled an estimated 7 times.

Though many Americans are increasing their recycling efforts, it’s interesting to note that American paper mills are going out of business.  There are several factors that can be blamed.

#1:  You are reading this online – not in print. With publishing of newspaper, magazines, yellow pages, promotional advertising, books and even credit card billing statements all going digital, there is simply less demand for mills to generate these types of paper products. In fact, today’s New York Times (electronic version) reported that Amazon’s sales of e-books just outpaced their sales of hardcovers. This wave of change is moving fast. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there is no longer a use for paper mills. Which leads us to the next reason.

#2:  Retooling is a huge capital expense. In fact, many US mills are still paying off the investments from read more

Zero Waste – What Does It Mean for EH&S, CSR or Just Me and You?

The term ‘zero waste’ has been on my mind lately. Working with EH&S (Environmental Health & Safety), Operations and procurement to divert waste from landfills and maximize their value is what we do at RecycleMatch. So, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of what it meant. But, when I was invited to speak on the subject at Sustainable Brands, my preparation proved that there are many definitions out there.

The audience that I’ll be addressing includes many Fortune 500 corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability experts. Much of their focus is on communications with the various company stakeholders including customers about their green initiatives. They are the folks read more

From Waste to Worth in Textile Recycling

From Waste To Worth – Recycling programs divert post-industrial and post-consumer waste from landfills and turn them into valuable feedstock for new textile products. Published in Textile World by Janet Bealer Rodie, Managing Editor

Consumer awareness of the importance of environmental stewardship has led to increased demand for products manufactured with minimal impact on the world’s well-being. And the demand for textiles that have a “green” pedigree has grown even in the face of economic hardships endured recently by many consumers. read more

Thankful For You Crazy Zero Waste Innovators

It’s that time of year when we enumerate the things and people for which we are thankful. And, it turns out you are at the top of our list. You are an innovator. An early adopter. Someone who sees an opportunity where other people only see trash. So, to borrow from the famous Apple computer ad below – here’s to you!

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The Yin and Yang of Trash

Yin Yang Trash Landfill Zero WasteI care deeply about trash. Some might say I’m obsessed. Last week, at Pop!Tech, I had a chance to get seriously esoteric about my favorite subject, garbology. Another attendee and I were discussing his recoil reaction to the subject. He expressed an underlying disgust at the idea of dealing with the unknown that lies within his company’s dumpsters. Our discussion led us to the Yin and Yang metaphor.

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We Don’t Need to Change the World to Achieve Sustainability

PopTech Social Innovation Fellows 2010We don’t need to change the world. At Pop!Tech, I re-learned this idea. We don’t need to change the world. We simply need to change the way we see the world.

Of course, that’s hard because we each come pre-loaded with our own unique perspectives, read more

Let’s Get to Work for the Earth 350.org

RecycleMatch 350 Day CO2 Climate EmissionsThere are so many environmental issues facing the world today it can be overwhelming. But 350.org, is asking all of us to take one day to get to do what we can, where we are. That day is Sunday 10/10/10. Check www.350.org to see where events are scheduled in your neighborhood, or just make your own. Events range from fixing bikes to building community gardens to cheering on grocery shoppers who bring their own bags. 350.org started as a student-based, grass-roots organization to spread awareness about scientific evidence that our ecosystem as we know it needs to stay around 350 PPM of carbon. The bad news is, we are already at 389 and climbing so we have a lot of work to do! The good news is, 350.org is mobilizing people across 150 countries to make a difference in our own big backyard. read more

Best Tweets from Women in Green Forum #WIGF Curated by @BrookeBF

RecycleMatch Co-founder Brooke Betts Farrell (@BrookeBF) was a tweeting machine at last weeks Women In Green Forum held in Los Angeles. Curating the best tweets was easy given all of the inspirational and insightful speakers. read more

What Environmentalists and Big Oil Can Agree On

RecycleMatch Shell Oil GreenLast week, I attended a dinner at Houston’s Petroleum Club where former Shell President John Hoffmeister spoke about what he calls the impeding “energy abyss”.

A crisis so ugly that it will “put our lifestyles at risk over political symbolism”. He’s pretty outspoken about that, and his main issues are as follows:

1. Americans have a lot to learn about energy. About how much we use, where we get our supply, how the infrastructure works, and how it does and does not impact the environment.

2. Politicians are killing us. Making short-term decisions based on the “optics”, letting read more

Vote for our SXSW Panel – Let’s Talk Green Tech

Vote for our SXSW Panels on Sustainability and lets make the conference Green!

Dateline 2025: The internet solves our environmental issues

Techies can save the world: Why arent they?


Who Wants to Make Landfills Obsolete With Zero Waste? We do!

plastiki plastic pacific gyreIf you have been on our mailing list or tweet stream, you may have seen something out there about the MYOO Create ‘Beat Waste’ competition. (And, if you haven’t voted yet, for pete’s sake, hurry up and vote here!) UPDATE: RecycleMatch was selected as a finalist!

MYOO Create is a community focused on social and environmental innovation. By offering ‘challenge prizes’ and encouraging discussion around key topics, in this case around the waste of our natural resources and overuse of landfills, MYOO is driving innovation on some of the most pressing challenges we currently face.

The $25,000 cash prizes for the Beat Waste Startup Challenge were underwritten by Adventure Ecology, a group focused on the enormous problem of plastics read more

Five Not So Obvious Things We Learned From Manually Picking Up Trash

Trash Cartoon Litter Garbage

You’ve heard about the Pacific Gyre, right? The area three times the size of the state of Texas, that holds hundreds of thousands of tons of plastic debris that chokes turtles and kills birds that mistake it as food. And you’ve probably already heard that the Pacific Gyre is just one of the giant garbage patches. Each of our world’s seven oceans has a plastic gyre of similar proportion. This weekend, September 25th, the Ocean Conservancy is having their 25th annual International Coastal Clean-up. Check here for events in your area: http://www.oceanconservancy.org/

We did a similar clean-up associated with a State of Texas initiative this spring (you can check out our intern’s report on the event here http://www.recyclematch.com/blog-the-recyclematch-team-helps-to-clean-up-our-waterways-by-participating-in-the-2010-trash-bash). RecycleMatch encourages our team members and our customers to participate in events like this. Whether you are cleaning up the beach, a river, or a storm sewer in your area, what you’ll find will open your eyes to the opportunities we all have to fix this problem.

Here are the five not so obvious things we learned from manually picking up trash:

1. Most people in cities believe that there is a filtration system in the storm sewer that collects whatever trash blows down there. Not true. read more

20 Best Quotes Heard At Sustainable Brands SB10

Sustainable Brands Conference in Monterey CA this week was an amazing source of inspiration. As I’m working on one blog post, I feel like there could be ten. The topics ranged from high level strategic discussions to deeper dives on specific issues. With a room filled with so many experts, innovators and open-minded seekers, it was easy to compile a list of favorite comments I’ve heard this week. Attributing these quotes will be a trick, so if I’ve misattributed or haven’t attributed them at all, feel free to alert me with a tweet @brookebf (follow at www.twitter.com/brookebf)  and I’ll fix it. read more

Running the Sustainability Marathon

Sustainability Marathon Sustainable Brands Sustainable BusinessAs I left the Sustainable Brands conference in June, I felt exhausted and buzzed at the same time. Buzzed from exposure to amazing ideas and inspiring people. Emceed by “rock stars” of sustainability like Andrew Winston (Green to Gold) and Gil Friend (Natural Logic) it was easy to follow the thread of continuity as we covered a broad landscape.

Hazel Henderson set a great baseline with a call for new economic tools that eliminate “negative externalities”. R Paul Herman (HIP Investor and author) made it more tangible with a panel on radical transparency. Having dinner with Paul and a small group was even more powerful, as he explained in detail how available data drives smarter business and investment decisions. Instead of ‘green investment’ being a charitable effort, turns out that public companies that operate based on this new economic reality consistently perform 4% above the norm. Just like read more

Green Value and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Part 2 of 2

In the previous post I talked about the background and mentioned some examples of green value within CSR. Readers who are unfamiliar with this field are advised to read up on my first post before going into this post. The next obstacle towards a greener future, measuring the effect of CSR, can be handled in many ways.

During my research for this blog post I stumbled upon Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI), an NPO for environmental sustainability. They have developed several tools that could improve how companies attack the green challenges. I looked at their Sustainability Map (http://www.gemi.org/sustainabilitymap/) and their Metrics Navigator read more

What I Learned About Charles Dickens and Sustainable Business at GreenBiz.com Conference

Joel Makower opened the State of Green Business conference with a quick allusion to “A Tale of Two Cities” drawing insight that green business is in the “the best of times and the worst of times”. Here is a quick literature lesson to draw out the reference even further.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

In San Francisco last week, doom and gloom projections of our future were in direct contrast with some surprisingly exciting insights that point toward the ‘next industrial revolution’. read more

The RecycleMatch Team Helps Clean Up Waterways By Picking Up Plastic with the Trash Bash

Check out the short video blog produced by RecycleMatch’s Linda Maehre about how RecycleMatch made an effort to help clean up Lake Conroe on March 27th 2010 as part of the TrashBash. Once a year thousands of volunteers gather along the Texas waterways to do their part in cleaning up the environment and participate in the largest statewide event to educate the public about the importance of our water resources. It was a great event and we were proud to be help make the lake a zero waste location.


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What is Enoek and how does it help the environment? Environmental insights from Norway

I’m Snorre Gylterud, working at RecycleMatch during my exchange program in entrepreneurship at University of Oslo and Rice University and for my second blog post I wanted to highlight some of the initiatives and incentives toward environmental awareness in my country, Norway. Being from a foreign country working in the green space, I would like to share my perspective on the environmental awareness incentives in Norway.

Consumer products and basically all material resources used needs a functioning, closed lifecycle. The drink container return program, “pant”, is a good example of that. When you buy a soda in Norway (glass, plastic or aluminum) they are all read more

Green Value and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – Part 1 of 2

One could argue that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and green initiatives walk hand in hand. The challenge for companies today is how to valuate and measure the effects of activities like these. I’d like to look at various ways of doing that and how this could connect with RecycleMatch’s business.

First of all let me introduce myself. I’m Snorre Gylterud, working at RecycleMatch during my exchange program in entrepreneurship at University of Oslo and Rice University. My interests in entrepreneurship are within organizational productivity and effectiveness using information technology. I have a Masters degree in computer science with additional classes in economics and management. I look forward to being in the environmental community and learn more about sustainability from RecycleMatch and its peers. I’ve been intrigued by companies’ efforts towards CSR and reputation. Web marketing and communities open a new world of both positive and negative feedback opportunities. I have chosen to divide the blog post in two connected parts covering the green value and background for CSR in this first post.

Today anyone can post negative things about your company or your product and let it spread all over the Internet and vice versa on positive feedback. I think, and have already seen, that green initiatives can lead to read more

Earth Day and the Role of Business

reduce reuse recycle restore replenish earth day EarthdayEarth Day was created 40 years ago to raise awareness and appreciation for the Earth and our collective impact on it. The Earth is pretty big, so it’s no wonder that it is such a big, diverse topic. Whether it’s the conservationists, the off-the-grid / energy independence voices, the LOHAS / organics and personal health folks, the always popular 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), the think global / buy local voices, the global warming / climate change folks — everyone has an opinion and everyone is using this day as a platform for their agenda. So, why not corporations?

Corporations have a huge role to play in the environment. The goods they manufacture and sell to consumers require read more

The Green, the GOOD and the Ugly at SXSW

swag bag recycling reduce reuse recycle I’m not the typical SXSWi (South-by-Southwest Interactive for those not in the know) attendee. But these days, who is? The trade show turned spring break event that once was a bastion for tech-geeks has gone mainstream. The crowd, now estimated at 15,000+ paid attendees, has sprouted beyond the core group of developers to include a much more diverse audience of people whose livelihoods depend on technology.

As a company at the intersection of technology and green, RecycleMatch has our own unique perspective on the event. Here’s a run-down of the things we loved and some things that surprised us.

Most of all I loved read more

Don’t be a Cheapskate! Green Innovators Get Sustainable

From time to time, RecycleMatch comes across innovative companies and individuals who are really creating something amazing out of waste.

Whether it is Ecovative Design’s alternative Styrofoam made from agricultural waste or artists like Ian Trask who use discarded objects as their medium for creative expression, it’s amazing how many people are thinking up ways to use the left-overs of our businesses and our society.

Most are happy to take miscellaneous unwanted materials for free. But, is that a good enough price tag for the pioneers taking on the most problematic, landfill-doomed waste streams? After all, they are competing with the landfill for your waste. Why not pay them a competitive rate? read more

How to Manage Your Company’s Waste Like a Product

If you missed our recent webinars on How to Manage Your Commercial Waste as a Product – you can catch up on the webinar via the YouTube videos below. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions!

Part one

For Part two, see more read more

When historians reflect back, will they say green revolution, or green enhancement?

Thirty years from now, will we still be shipping our natural resources to landfills, or will we have built a more efficient business ecosystem? Without the benefit of hindsight, it’s hard to say for certain. But, we’ve found (at least) four solid signals that the next decade will bring us sustainable innovations that will significantly change our world.

1. Styrofoam is out. Dow Chemical has read more

5 Tips to Divert C&D Construction Waste From the Landfill

Have a goal for zero waste at your job site? Diverting waste from the landfill and practicing recycling can pay off by lowering energy, material and disposal costs. Here are 5 steps to overcome some common challenges that you may face as you implement a recycling program:

Find and Setup Adequate Space

Recycling and reuse efforts require space and space is at a premium at most sites. Work to set aside an area of the jobsite to store salvaged building materials and store recycling containers or rolloffs for either commingled or source-separated loads. If you cannot get enough space at the job site – see if you can set up a remote site for the materials.

Education and Communication are Important

Communicate your plan to the general contractor and subcontractors on site. They will need to know – who is going to receive the materials, how materials should be separated, and when the materials will be collected and delivered to the appropriate facilities. You cannot communicate the plan too often.

Provide Leadership

Designate an on-site leader with the appropriate authority and responsibility to be accountable for educating the general contractor’s crew and subcontractors, setting up the site, coordinating, reporting, and supervising recycling efforts to prevent the contamination of recycling loads. Include all waste-handling requirements and expectations in all project documents and job interviews. If needed, communicate the message in another language to insure your goals and expectations are understood by all involved in the project. (Hint: if you really want to be on the leading edge – plan ahead and post your materials on the RecycleMatch Marketplace to find a market for your items before your project begins)

Involve Subcontractors

Require all of your subcontractors to use recycling containers. You may want to require them to recycle their own waste off site and provide you with appropriate documentation. Ask each subcontractor to conduct a review of the recycling project goals and objectives each time they are speaking of safety issues. This is an easy way to link the two important topics and to minimize administrative cost.

Prevent Contamination

Adopt strategies to prevent contamination by clearly labeling the recycling containers/rolloffs and waste containers on site.

Waste Diversion

Post lists of recyclable and non-recyclable materials. Conduct regular site visits to verify that the rolloffs are not contaminated. Provide feedback to the general contractor’s crew and subcontractors on the results of their efforts.

We hope you will find these tips useful for your commercial building project. Reducing costs and helping the environment are goals all businesses can achieve.

Should Your City Have a Zero Waste Program?

Zero Waste is a goal that many cities in the US and around the world have set for themselves. Austin Texas, Palo Alto California, and Sydney Australia are just a few of the cities that are setting long term goals to become Zero Waste Cities. What is Zero Waste? Zero Waste is the goal of diverting waste generated by all sources from landfills, both business and residential. This is done by reducing consumption, recycling to the maximum extent possible and purchasing products that are made to be reused or recycled. Unlike our current system of managing waste, Zero Waste seeks to eliminate waste wherever possible.

The model for zero waste is nature. In nature, there is no waste – one living thing’s wastes read more

8 Biggest Myths About Sustainability in Business

Based on feedback from our customers and research in the market, RecycleMatch has also found that companies that focus on sustainability can find new cost savings and profits. There are a lot of great tips and detailed examples in this article from GreenBiz.com that illustrates the benefits of implementing sustainability projects.

From GreenBiz.Com (http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2009/11/23/8-myths-about-sustainability-business)

The Eight Biggest Myths about Sustainability in Business By Vijay Kanal – GreenBiz.com

In our research, and in engagements with dozens of Fortune 1000 companies, we are sometimes surprised at the reluctance to pursue environmental sustainability initiatives, because of misconceptions about their cost or benefits. But we have also seen how some companies have embraced sustainability whole-heartedly, and are profiting from it. As a way of helping to get every company on the journey to sustainability, here are some of the most common myths we have heard from otherwise successful companies. As surprising as some of these might sound — like the idea that there is no money to be had from sustainability efforts — these ideas persist in companies large and small and in any industry.

1. It’s a cost and we can’t afford it right now read more

Minimize Waste By Doing a Waste Audit

Conducting a waste audit is a good first step in providing your company with a sustainable waste management solution to minimize waste and maximize recycling. Benefits include reduced costs, better resource efficiency, and reducing the amount of trash that goes into the environment.

Waste in companies is usually generated in three areas: read more

Tips to Create and Sustain Green Partnerships

We have been thinking a lot about partnerships and what makes sense for our business and our customers. Here are some of our thoughts regarding partnerships.

To create a strong partnership, analyze your company and the potential partner to see if there is a strong fit based on these elements: read more

Triple Bottom Line for Financial and Environmental Sustainability

You may have heard the term “triple bottom line”. The phrase was first used in 1989 by John Elkington, co-founder of a consultancy focused on sustainability. The triple bottom line focuses companies on financial rewards as well as social and environmental benefits to create a sustainable company. A sustainable company can create profits for its shareholders while protecting the environment and improving the lives of those with whom it interacts. It operates so that its business interests and the interests of the environment and society intersect.

For example, McDonald’s has made efforts to improve its environmental practices by reducing energy and water usage and enforcing higher levels of sustainability among its network of suppliers. The two biggest issues in their restaurants are energy and waste. The company spends $1.7 billion on energy around the world and finding ways to be more energy efficient can cut costs dramatically. McDonald’s spends $1.3 billion on processing waste including packaging that turns into waste and other waste in general. Actions to reduce packaging and to divert waste will help their triple bottom line.

Going forward, Companies will need to understand their sustainability issues and gaps and then develop business cases and action plans to close the gaps. There are multiple benefits to implementing sustainability plans including cost reduction and opportunities for new revenue streams. Incorporating sustainability into business is part of a larger transformation that may be the next industrial revolution. In the first industrial revolution the goal was to create financial value – the challenge in this next revolution is to simultaneously create financial, social, and ecological value. There is a great opportunity for businesses of all sizes to innovate, make important contributions, and have an impact on our future.

Find Hidden Value in Your Company’s Supply Chain

Using innovation, creative thinking employees and companies can find hidden value in their supply chains. One idea is to think about how to use undervalued or under appreciated resources in new ways. Some questions to ask include:

Is there a resource read more

8 Totally Awesome Things I Learned at Opportunity Green

1. Big companies can lead the way. Nike, P&G, Clorox and a number of other large companies are working very hard to lead by example in creating a sustainable business. Nike uses a Consideration Index for materials, Clorox provides full transparency for the ingredients of all of their products, and P&G has a “Sustainability Czar” at each plant.

2. In many areas it is too hard for humans to comprehend the massive numbers behind some environmental issues. Chris Jordan suggests read more

Waste is a Symptom of an Inefficient Process

Waste is a symptom of an inefficient process. Every business process has some inefficiency and we all work to continually improve our processes. But are we doing enough to eliminate waste in our processes? Waste is essentially materials that have been paid for and are then considered to have no value or are useless. At the beginning of the process before these items are considered waste, the materials are many times stored in expensive warehouse or office spaces. At the end of the process, we are then paying to have them hauled away and put into a landfill. In many cases the materials have inherent value to other companies and processes – which can provide additional cash flow and divert the materials from the harm of a landfill.

To improve processes and make them green at the same time, many companies are implmenting Green Sigma Programs. These programs are based on Six Sigma, lean, and ISO methodologies to redesign processes to make them more efficient, educate employees, and tangibly contribute to being environmentally friendly. Companies are coming under increasing pressure from governments, advocacy groups, investors, prospective employees, and consumers to make their operations, products, and services more socially responsible, particularly regarding the environment. Green Sigma Programs are evolving to help companies become more efficient, more profitable, and eliminate waste. An investment in green business is good business.

How does Recycling Impact Environment and Business?

Houston 350 carbon PPMWe recently took part in several 350 International Climate Day Events in Houston and we learned a lot in the process. 350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere (from the www.350.org website). Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate impacts have led scientists to conclude that we are already above the safe zone at our current 390ppm, and that unless we are able to rapidly return to 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.

How does recycling and zero waste impact the climate?

Zero Waste calls for improved resource efficiency and eliminating rather than managing waste – strategies read more

To Create a Sustainable Company, Focus on the Triple Bottom Line

You may have heard the term “triple bottom line”. The phrase was first used in 1989 by John Elkington, co-founder of a consultancy focused on sustainability. The triple bottom line focuses companies on financial rewards as well as social and environmental benefits to create a sustainable company. A sustainable company can create profits for its shareholders while protecting the environment and improving the lives of those with whom it interacts. It operates so that its business interests and the interests of the environment and society intersect.

For example, McDonald’s has made efforts to improve read more

IBM Pioneers Process to Turn Waste Into Solar Energy

IBM has a great example of a RecycleMatch. IBM developed a unique, eco-friendly way to recycle scrap silicon “wafers” — the base material used for chips in everything from computers to consumer electronics. The process has dual advantages for the environment, as it will help reduce the estimated 3 million silicon wafers discarded each year across the computer industry, while also providing new supplies of raw materials to the supply-constrained solar energy industry. read more

Welcome to RecycleMatch

The motivation behind creating RecycleMatch is that waste or undervalued materials can be converted to profit. In many cases the term “waste” is misleading, since waste materials are typically left behind by-products of industrial or consumer processes that can potentially be used as materials for other processes. These materials only become wastes when they are wasted. For instance, disposed in a landfill. In nature, there is very little waste – one living thing’s wastes may become another living thing’s nourishment. In the same way, rethinking traditional ways to make products can lead to the discovery of innovative methods for the conversion of wastes into valuable resources. New methods are not only economically attractive, but they also add to environmental sustainability by diverting wastes from landfills and reducing the requirement for energy demanding production of new materials.

Nuclear waste as a fuel source? What next – the flux capacitor?

This week, as all eyes are on the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, I had the opportunity to hear Dr James Hansen speak about his views on climate change, what we are risking by not addressing it, and what we can do to most effectively reduce and reverse these trends. One of the surprising things I learned was about what Hansen termed fourth generation nuclear technology. Hansen indicated that the emerging technologies for nuclear power are significantly safer and offer significantly more energy yield. While my instinct was to recoil in fear, Hansen won me over when he explained that this new technology actually uses existing nuclear waste as a resource for energy. Since I’m all about the better use of waste, I had to be more open minded. Hansen reiterated what I already knew – the stockpiles of nuclear waste that we have today will be around for hundreds of thousands of years or even longer. Apparently this new nuclear technology is not only safer to operate, but actually uses today’s nuclear waste for feedstock. When the process is complete, there is remaining nuclear waste, but it is less dangerous and will need to be managed for tens of thousands of years instead of hundreds of thousands of years. I’m not saying I’m ready for one in my backyard, but I will probably entertain a little more open discussion on the subject.

Here are some other highlights and tidbits I learned from Dr Hansen:

1. Scientists indicate that the earth read more