Based in Paris, Sonepar is an independent family-owned company with global market leadership in B2B distribution of electrical products, solutions, and related services. They serve customers around the world in close to 40 countries with a unique balance of global scale and local empowerment, making their lives and day-to-day operations easier.

Sonepar entered the U.S. market in 1998 and continues to grow due to strategic acquisitions and organic growth. They currently have a U.S. network of more than 400 locations.

Sonepar has partnered with Rubicon for its waste and recycling solutions since 2018. This partnership involves eight of Sonepar’s operating companies in the United States. In 2021, Sonepar asked Rubicon to assist in helping them divert more of their waste, in line with their corporate objectives. They had many locations that were sending all of their waste to landfills, and knew there were opportunities to recycle more.

As a first step, Rubicon suggested performing a material characterization (also known as a waste audit), which would identify any materials in Sonepar’s waste stream that could be recycled. A material characterization consists of analyzing all materials currently being disposed of at a location and identifying which ones can be reused or recycled.

Sonepar and Rubicon selected locations for these characterizations based on which ones would provide the best representation of Sonepar’s complete waste stream. For example, one was conducted at World Electric’s Pompano Beach location. During the material characterization, all materials in their 30-yard open top were sorted into predetermined material and/or product categories/types. Next, each material type was further sorted, weighed, and recorded. Collected data was used to outline the total proportion (percentage) of each material/type in their waste stream. Rubicon analyzed the data and provided a detailed report to Sonepar with targeted recommendations.

Through the survey, Rubicon discovered that recyclable materials in World Electric’s trash included cardboard, paper, mixed recyclables (aluminum cans, glass, plastic bottles, etc.), and various plastic packaging materials. In addition, there was a small amount of food scrap and some non-traditional waste materials including expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam).

Rubicon analyzed the data and provided a detailed report to Sonepar with targeted recommendations. Based on the volume of material collected, Rubicon determined that potentially over 70 percent of World Electric’s waste stream could be recycled.

Based on these percentages, Rubicon recommended that Sonepar implement single sort recycling where available, and cardboard recycling for a few locations where there aren’t haulers who accept single sort.

After Sonepar selected locations to add recycling, Rubicon recommended specific container sizes for the single-sort and cardboard, and how often they should be serviced. In addition, Rubicon provided pricing to add recycling at those locations and estimated the reduction of trash service costs resulting from the diversion.

Rubicon provided Sonepar with a list of materials that could be included in single-sort recycling for each location based on the local haulers and regulations. Sonepar created posters showing which materials could be recycled that that were placed near the new containers to encourage their usage.

After receiving approval from Sonepar, Rubicon procured new recycling services for several locations at Sonepar’s World Electric and Capital Electric OpCo’s. Since then, Sonepar has recycled an additional 22 tons of cardboard and 190 tons of single-sort at those locations. The additional recycling has resulted in avoiding 650 net metric tons of carbon dioxide being released, and in 2022 alone, Sonepar recycled a total of 1,187 tons through Rubicon.

Sonepar’s partnership with Rubicon to improve their waste and recycling practices resulted in significant waste diversion and carbon emissions reductions, contributing to the company’s commitment to sustainable operations.

Gail LaFleche is a Key Account Manager at Rubicon. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.