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With a bold mission to end waste in all its forms, Rubicon Global provides software and data services to help clients manage their waste and recycling programs — and find solutions to help them avoid creating the waste in the first place.
With more than 350 employees across five offices, including its headquarters in Atlanta and core teams in New York City and San Francisco, Rubicon links clients with its network of more than 5,000 independent waste haulers.
By expanding upon “reduce, reuse, recycle,” Rubicon helps clients and their employees reduce and manage their waste. That’s the inspiration for its RUBICONMethod that includes six steps to set up and maintain a business recycling program — determine, initiate, vocalize, eliminate, roll-out and track — aka DIVERT.
David Rachelson, vice president of sustainability at Rubicon Global, says the six DIVERT steps are built upon what the company has learned about reducing waste and setting up recycling programs since it was founded in 2008.
“At its core, reducing waste is a lot more complex than reducing energy or water use,” he says. “It’s much simpler to turn off a light, or use a sensor on a faucet in a restroom, than it is after lunch to figure out how to sustainably get rid of the waste someone created through a takeout meal. There’s a lot of complexity surrounding how you manage and reduce waste.”
That’s why Rubicon developed DIVERT: To remove some of that complexity and move more organizations of all sizes toward zero waste. The six steps take them through an audit, to provide a baseline by examining what’s purchased and what’s in their waste.
This isn’t your typical audit. The Rubicon team even dives into trash bins to identify waste streams, Rachelson says, which helps to inform the waste reduction plan.
“By focusing on all parts that touch the waste stream, from employees to janitorial staff, we’re making sure everyone is connected and understands what can be recycled,” Rachelson says. “We really want to eliminate waste before it enters a building or facility. That involves looking at all parts of the supply chain and trying to understand how to procure in a way that reduces waste before it becomes an issue.”
A B Corp since 2012, Rubicon is working to change the typical, linear trash-to-landfill system to a circular model that creates more economic benefit while reducing waste.
“We’re working to bring a circular economy to an industry that has not experienced significant innovation with technology or the business model through which it operates,” he says. “Our goal is to reduce the amount of waste that is unsustainably managed. As a B Corp, we want to share our best practices with the world and help everyone understand how to reduce their waste.”
A Domino Effect
Clients come to Rubicon for a variety of reasons, but Rachelson says in many cases employees are driving that decision.
“They’re on the front lines and see the challenges or are the ones that get the most frustrated when it’s not done right,” he says. “Businesses are feeling pressure from employees and consumers themselves. They’re a positive influence to recycle and do it the right way.”
Once clients begin working with Rubicon, that positive influence expands beyond the business as employees see new opportunities at work and at home.
“We’ve found that once the method is in place, it’s a segue to do additional things,” Rachelson says. “They identify new waste streams that could be diverted, further educating staff around how to do it right. And ultimately we then have created a conduit of knowledgeable partners. A lot of the effort is how to create an ecosystem of recycling ambassadors at all these businesses to then help create a domino effect of promoting the right way to do it.”
Like B Corps that consider multiple stakeholders in their business practices, Rubicon’s method goes beyond a bottom-line benefit — although most clients see a cost-neutral program from the start.
“It’s really built around this mission to end waste and a belief that our business can be used not only as a vehicle for shareholder value and return, since we are a venture-backed company, but also to have a positive impact,” he says.