As the calendar page turns to 2019, the team at Rubicon has been working with haulers, companies, small businesses and governments across the globe to help them play a role in Rubicon’s mission to end waste.  

We are a Certified B Corporation, which means we align our business with purpose. Rubicon is a software company that provides a suite of SaaS products for waste, recycling, and smart city solutions, and collects and analyzes data for businesses and governments worldwide. We are changing the game when it comes to the category of waste and recycling. With the advent of artificial intelligence, big data, and machine learning, the world of both residential and commercial waste and recycling is going to be entirely different 50 years from now, and Rubicon is the catalyst that is driving that change.

From composting to construction, from smart city to sustainability, what will 2019 bring? We sat down with leaders from across the Rubicon company and asked them that very question and the result: 9 predictions for 2019.  

1. Smart City thinking will have a watershed moment

“In 2019, cities will find themselves needing to expand municipal services with flat or diminishing budgets, especially as the nation’s urban migration continues. The year will, therefore, be a watershed moment for the smart cities movement, as technology companies will be forced to demonstrate ROI on an accelerated time horizon. Those products and services that are low cost, leverage existing city assets, and focus relentlessly on process improvement for city systems will be the big winners in 2019. It’s no longer about the ‘coolest’ concepts; but instead, about what actually works to change lives for the better.” – Michael Allegretti, Chief Public Strategy Officer at Rubicon @MikeAllegretti

2. Sustainable and environmental public policy debate will continue

“Last year, city and state legislatures responded to the nation’s opioid epidemic by introducing hundreds of regulations and policies related to the safe disposal of pharmaceuticals. In 2019, city and state legislatures will react to another pressing crisis: single-use plastic waste and their growing threat to the planet. Expect to see an uptick in plastic bag bans or fees, restrictions on various single-use plastic products, and an increased call to action to combat plastic ocean pollution. We’ll also continue to see municipal governments taking on a larger role in calling for solutions to combat climate change through policy and program implementation at the local level.”  – Maui Orozco, Senior Manager for Public Policy and Government Affairs at Rubicon

3. The movement behind the Circular Economy theme will increase

“With the term “circular economy” now firmly a part of the broader sustainability lexicon, 2019 will be the year when businesses, governments, and organizations develop and implement circular solutions that go beyond only landfill diversion and focus on sustainable package design, waste reduction, and reuse and upcycle of items at scale. This momentum toward realizing a circular economy will gain traction while the prevailing ‘make-take-landfill’ approach will continue its wane.” – David Rachelson, Vice President of Sustainability at Rubicon @RubiconMethod

4. The challenges for recycling in the construction and demolition space in 2019

“When looking at the construction and demolition industry, it will be critical to leverage technology to deal with the massive challenge of cleaning up, waste and recycling. Today there are better ways to deal with construction clean up, other than doing what we did 50 years ago and calling the garbage company. Educating the public and private sectors on modern possibilities is vital to change old habits. In addition, the lack of dedicated construction and demolition material recycling facilities means that each commodity being recycled must have its own container to prevent cross contamination. This scenario makes coordination and logistics more important for users and vendors, which is why embracing technology could be a catalyst for change in 2019 and beyond.“ – Marc Spiegel, Construction and Demolition Sector Lead and Co-Founder of Rubicon  

5. Organics recycling will increase in importance within sustainability programs

“As consumers demand more sustainability and the national focus on reducing food waste gains steam, the prevalence of organics recycling will continue to increase in 2019. More infrastructure and hauling programs are being put into place, and additional businesses are signing up for service. The legislation is a driver, but one of the most important factors is growing familiarity with the process. As time goes on, organics collection is becoming more and more commonplace.” – Ryan Cooper, Waste Diversion Manager & Organics Recycling Lead at Rubicon @RecycleOrganics

6. The world of IoT will dramatically expand in the waste and recycling industry

“The world of waste and recycling is going to be an industry that will be dramatically reshaped in 2019 through IoT. From tracking and delivery confirmations of trash pick-ups, image scanning of bins and garbage to help differentiate trash from recycling, the movement of adapting IoT thinking to the category of waste and recycling will see a tremendous uptick in 2019 and beyond.” – Phil Rodoni, Chief Technology Officer at Rubicon

7. The rise of safe chemicals to help with cleaner plastic will give rise to a new industry

“Chemical recycling technology, whereby plastics are recycled using chemical systems to upcycle plastic waste back into its basic chemicals, will see a dramatic uptick in 2019, thanks in large part of the Chinese National Sword program. The industry has been flooded with dirty waste plastic, but innovation has taken place already and will continue next year, where companies will work to build large-scale plants that can handle the hundreds of tons per day of plastic waste that is being produced and currently landfilled.” –  Frank Killoran, Director of Customer Solutions at Rubicon

8. The impact from China recycling can be a positive

“With the Chinese National Sword program changing what will and won’t be accepted for recycling, U.S. businesses of all sizes are going to be even more focused on recycling correctly. This means that more organic recycling, more recycling around cardboard and bottles and the conscious attempt to reduce contaminated separation will take a stronger foothold.” – Renaud de Viel Castel, Senior Vice President of Global Expansion at Rubicon

9. More accountability in the waste and recycling industry

“Next year, you are going to see consumers, businesses of both small and large scale and governments demand further transparency from their waste services providers. They will want to see further details on costs, end-destination, service accountability, and data analytics – all tied to their own sustainability efforts.” – Nick Dahm, Vice President of Corporate Development & Strategy at Rubicon

Looking for the latest predictions in the waste, recycling, and sustainability industries? Check out our 2020 Predictions blog post here!