Nobody was spared the virus’s impact. It was an external event that made clear that we share a common future on this globe, and when a crisis occurs, every aspect of society—national, regional, local, institutional, corporate, nonprofit—is responsible for building a sustainable, equitable, and resilient future.

But as challenging as it has been, COVID-19 will be a relatively short stint in time—one with a fixed beginning, a difficult middle, and, we hope, a final ending.

This is not true for the waste crisis. These challenges will be with us for the foreseeable future but, if we uphold our commitment to our customers and meet our own internal goals, subsequent generations will reap the benefits.

Though the environmental challenges preceded us, we nevertheless must be part of the solution. All of us are accountable. All of us can do better. And here at Rubicon, we intend to make our mark with bold action, fresh thinking, and new solutions—an approach that is already producing measurable results.

We are fortunate to be building this company and the movement to end waste at a time when we have the full attention of the business leadership community. In today’s world, corporate citizenship is an integral part of strategy, informing leadership, investment, and operational decisions, as well as driving business transformation and measurement outcomes.

These issues are driving business leaders to think and act differently. They are central to the purpose of for-profit companies and corporate citizenship.

Rubicon is, at its heart, a company dedicated to improving the world. What we do addresses one of the biggest issues over which companies and businesses have significant control. Waste is a choice—and for years, it was believed to be the most efficient choice. We now know that is not true. We have other, better choices that directly contribute to both operational efficiency and profitability.

Our business model seeks to address two related environmental challenges. We need to reduce emissions to stave off catastrophic environmental challenges, and we also need to transition to a model of economic activity that makes far better use of our natural resources to support the world’s economic needs. Our goal is to establish tools to help do both.

Net Zero

annual carbon emissions by 2040


In 2020, our emissions (Scope 1, 2, and 3) totaled 2.34 million MTCO2e.

We have set ambitious goals. In emissions, we are aiming to achieve net zero annual carbon emissions by 2040. In 2020, our emissions (Scope 1, 2, and 3) totaled 2.34 million MTCO2e. Nearly all of those emissions were Scope 3 emissions largely stemming from transporting and managing our customers’ waste. These Scope 3 emissions declined by 13 percent in 2020 due in large part to the impact of the pandemic on economic activity globally. Given the complexity of this undertaking, we are building a credible and sustainable roadmap by 2025 to achieve net zero emissions by 2040. The roadmap and our efforts will be focused on three critical areas of opportunity:

Three critical areas of opportunity:

Decarbonizing the hauler and recycling network:

With greater efficiency, use of alternative fuels, and other measures, we believe we can turn an emissions-intensive activity into one with neutral emissions impact.

Continuing to reduce landfill dependence:

We aim to remove hundreds of thousands of metric tons of carbon dioxide from annual emissions through recycling and other landfill alternatives. Doing so will take planning, innovation, and cooperation with our customers.

Promoting circular economy practices and infrastructure:

Recycling and circularity are critical to the goal of ending waste as we know it. By connecting recyclable users to recyclable producers and their materials, we aim to be the market maker of the circular economy.

Our work depends greatly on the strength of social and governance functions and institutions. We have an active environmental, social, and governance (ESG) Committee made up of a diverse team that guides our development of goals and action plans to assure proper reporting and governance. In addition, the committee works closely with our Sustainability and Human Resources teams to help us maintain vigorous Diversity and Inclusion programs.

Our goal is to act on our responsibility with the resources and opportunities we have as corporate citizens. We will meet our corporate standards as any business meets any metric: By proving it every day, and then raising the bar. This report shows what we have done and where we are going.

This report outlines the pillars of our sustainability strategy, our 2020 and 2021 accomplishments, our near-term priorities, and the foundations we are laying for our action moving forward.