One of our favorite parts of the RUBICONSmartCity™ Next Summit was hearing from past and present leaders in solid waste management. 

We were lucky enough to spend some time with Harry Hayes, the former Chief Operating Officer of the City of Houston and Director for Houston’s Solid Waste Management Department, to learn more about our technology’s impact on his community.

Couldn’t make this part of our event? Don’t worry. Follow along down below for three important takeaways from this keynote.

Takeaway #1: Solid Waste Management Is Essential

Mr. Hayes emphasized the absolute necessity of a waste management department. He encouraged us to think about this sector as more than what its title suggests. In other words, waste management isn’t just about managing waste—it’s also about public health, public safety, public welfare, and public defense. 

A good example of what Mr. Hayes meant is the COVID-19 pandemic. In Houston and other cities across the country, waste management was one of the most heavily relied upon departments. With thousands of people quarantined in their homes, solid waste increased. Had the department not met the demand in their communities, more health issues may have occurred. More issues would mean less progress—and less progress would mean even more problems.

Takeaway #2: Solid Waste Management Is Historic

When we think of waste management, we don’t really do so in a historical context. According to Mr. Hayes, we definitely should. He articulated an age-old concept that it only takes three individuals to form a government: someone to lead, someone to protect, and someone to manage waste. 

This perspective leads to two key realizations. First, solid waste management is vital to the functioning of society. Second, solid waste management isn’t just about managing waste—it’s about managing waste better over time. Mr. Hayes brought up the evolution of waste-collection vehicles as an example. We went from horse-drawn carts to dump trucks to conventional side loaders in the span of 100 years, all because waste collectors were constantly looking for opportunities to improve. 

That said, leaders in solid waste management are responsible for upholding this legacy. When new innovations arise, they shouldn’t be ignored.

Takeaway #3: Solid Waste Management Is Better with Rubicon

When Mr. Hayes worked as the COO for the City of Houston and Director for Houston’s Solid Waste Management Department, he spent ten years looking for a vendor who could address every issue his waste management department faced. His answer? Rubicon.

From empowering his employees and encouraging accountability in constituents, the data Mr. Hayes and his team received from RUBICONSmartCitydrastically improved the way Houston handled its solid waste. Here’s what he had to say about working with Rubicon: 

“It’s this technology, bar none. Head and shoulders above what anyone was able to demonstrate to me. I tested every technology that there was on the market…Rubicon is and has been a game changer for the city of Houston. I am thoroughly amazed by what has been placed in the palm of my hand.”

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Next Summit 2023 is already shaping up to be bigger and better than the inaugural 2022 event. Visit to sign up for updates and be first in line when registration opens.

Conor Riffle is Senior Vice President of Smart Cities 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.