Meg Schneider is a junior at Penn majoring in Environmental Studies, with a concentration in Sustainability and Environmental Management. She is currently researching behavioral solutions to environmental problems with Professor Dana of Penn Psychology for her thesis.
It’s all about incentives, said Rubicon Global‘s founder Nate Morris at IGEL’s Greening the Supply Chain conference. He said his company’s incentives are aligned with their clients, as they own no landfills or trucks themselves. In Nate’s words, “we make money off the savings we find [in our clients’ waste streams], unlike other ‘big guys’”. When first getting into the end-of-lifecycle business, Morris described how archaic the garbage disposal infrastructure is, with fax machines and costly paper invoices. Rubicon has used technology to create a niche streamlining sustainable processes for companies, which has gained it operations in over 50 states in just under 5 years.
Critics may say that their business will only last until waste-processors catch up to 21st century technology. To that point, Morris discussed other unique opportunities his company has created. In one particular example, Wegmans’, a fine goods supermarket store, had thousands of old uniforms that it did not want to dispose of in a landfill, or be processed into other materials, due to branding. Rubicon was able to find a pet cushion supplier that was able to recycle and reuse the materials, creating a win/win/win scenario for Wegmans’, the supplier, and Rubicon. With its unique positioning without assets, Rubicon will be well poised to face the future.
Overall, Morris’ talk and the success of Rubicon have clearly demonstrated that there still exists a large amount of low-hanging fruit for sustainability professionals and investors. While consumer goods and energy suppliers are often, rightly, lauded for their contributions, Rubicon has shown sustainability can be incorporated in a wide range of industries.