I was recently at WasteExpo, the largest annual gathering of the American waste and recycling industry. Walking around the convention floor, I was encouraged to see that the event was focused on there being a greater need for data and analytics in our industry, as this is something that Rubicon has been at the forefront of since the company’s founding.

During the expo, I presented on why I believe waste is no longer an invisible problem, as society now has a better understanding of the environmental costs associated with improper waste and recycling management.

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The presentation, which followed a great talk on food waste recycling and prevention by my Rubicon colleague Ryan Cooper, was based on the premise that we need to measure what matters if we are going to create a more circular economy. If you missed WasteExpo 2019, here’s a brief rundown of my presentation.

Waste is No Longer an Invisible Problem

Did you know that 20 percent of all methane (CH4) emissions in the United States originate in landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? On top of that, a full eight percent of global emissions are the result of food waste, which nearly equals all emissions associated with global road transport. In addition, Ryan Cooper told the audience during his WasteExpo presentation that the EPA estimates that more than 39 million tons of food waste is going to landfills or incinerators in the United States annually.

There has been growing public awareness about the issues surrounding landfills over recent years, with the public wanting to see accountability from both businesses and municipalities surrounding their use of these services. As a result of this, companies and cities are being pushed to report on what they are doing to address and manage their waste’s impact on the greater environment. Unfortunately, this has traditionally been difficult to measure—until now.

Rubicon Measures What Matters

One source of truth is lacking in the waste and recycling industry. This is due to a variety of factors, including complex inputs and outputs, decentralized management, and the simple fact that the footprint of a single item to be recycled is so varied (it’s shape, size, material composition, and more).

Raw data becomes actionable data that can increase your impact

During my presentation I highlighted the fact that people need accurate, comprehensible, and actionable data to understand opportunities and challenges, increase impact, and drive change—and that Rubicon’s goal is to deliver this to them.

Screenshots from a RUBICONConnect dashboard

Rubicon’s suite of SaaS products for waste, recycling, and smart city solutions, allows haulers, businesses, and city governments to receive real-world insights into their waste management and diversion efforts. These include the RUBICONConnect™ portal, which is our customer application designed to give businesses easy access to understand their waste and collection costs, as well as RUBICONFlash, our latest technology that uses waste characterization through machine learning to recognize different types of recyclables (papers, plastics, metals, and more) simply by taking a photo of a recycling bin.

Demonstration of RUBICONFlash™

I thoroughly enjoyed my time presenting at WasteExpo this year. If you have any questions for me or the rest of the Sustainability team here at Rubicon, please reach out to me any time at david.rachelson@rubiconglobal.com.

David Rachelson is Vice President of Sustainability 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.