• Leadership Update

Waste Management “Thinks Green” at Annual Sustainability Forum

At its 8th Annual Sustainability Forum, Waste Management once again proved that even in the face of natural disasters and changing trade patterns, we all play an important role in shaping a “green future” for the next generations.

CEO Jim Fish acknowledged the impact China’s new environmental regulations are having on the global market and movement of recyclables. He emphasized the company’s support for China’s need to tackle an environmental crisis but challenged all of us on our willingness to “invest in our environment, rethink energy production and uses, and develop new transportation” options while generating more demand for recyclables. The goal for a green future is simple, he said: “use less stuff, prevent food waste, and recycle paper, cardboard, bottles, and cans.” There is no event in the world where this philosophy is most on display than at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, “The Greenest Show on Grass” and a zero-waste event.

The Forum also included presentations on Oregon’s comprehensive sustainability strategy in which recycling is not the only way to keep stuff out of landfills. We also heard an inspiring story by startup, Zipline, of its zero-footprint effort to deliver needed medical supplies to rural clinics in Rwanda. And representatives of the EPA discussed the agency’s guidance for sustainability and recycling. 

Pratt Industries President Myles Cohen and Ross Lee of China-based Lee and Man also spoke at the Forum about the changing dynamics of the scrap paper industry given China’s changing regulations. Myles described the crisis going on across the United States regarding the inability for recyclers to move their mixed paper due to a combination of increased contamination and lack of demand from China. He recommended a review of items allowed to be included in residential single-stream recycling to stem the fall-out from these challenges. Ross reported that his company has opened a plant in Vietnam, and they are looking at other investment opportunities in Southeast Asia as well as within China. Both agreed that significant market potential exists when paper comes from the cleanest streams.

For questions related to the event, please contact Adina Renee Adler.

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