How to Make Waste Reduction Pay

Last week, Rubicon announced the launch of our company’s first Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report. If you have yet to download the report I encourage you to do so now to read more about what Rubicon is doing to transform the entire category of waste and recycling.

In a linear economy, there are little to no incentives for waste reduction; and the results are plain to see. Following the “take, make, waste,” model, a linear economy “takes” raw materials from the land, “makes” these raw materials into a product, then “wastes” these raw materials by sending them to landfill as waste.

As Rubicon’s Founder and CEO, Nate Morris, noted in a recent blog post, “Our linear economy is focused on the short-term, and has led to more waste and more environmental impact than at any other time in human history.” Rubicon set out to change all this, making waste reduction a core pillar of our mission to end waste, in all of its forms.

Waste Reduction Incentives

In contrast to a linear economy, in a circular economy incentives must exist to promote desired outcomes.

In 2019, Rubicon created a system for our own employees so they would have every incentive to help our customers and clients achieve waste reduction goals. We anchored a portion of their annual bonuses to the amount of waste reduced across all of our company’s clients. We set an initial goal for the percent change in waste diversion over the prior year, and throughout the year we updated our team on our progress in meeting that goal. This performance metric demonstrates to our customers and our stakeholders that our success depends on the core environmental objective that matters most: ending waste.

We have also included diversion incentives in contracts with certain major commercial customers. Our compensation from these contracts depends on how much we help them divert waste from landfills. One such customer adopted a comprehensive recycling program that includes composting, metal and wood recycling, and specialized recycling for hard-to-recycle streams. Between January 2017 and July 2019, we increased their landfill diversion rate by 47%.

Waste reduction incentives work. If you want to make your business more sustainable, it’s important that you look at how you can use incentives within your business—incentives for your customers, your employees, and your company as a whole—to help you achieve your waste reduction goals.

If you have any questions, or you’re interested in speaking with Rubicon about how you can make waste reduction pay in your business, you can reach out to my team directly at sustainability@rubicon.com, or contact our sales team at (844) 479-1507.


David Rachelson is Chief Sustainability Officer 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.

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