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Q&A: How Rubicon Global Is Championing a Zero-Waste World

Image credit: Rubicon Global/YouTube

Founded in 2008, Atlanta-based Rubicon Global has become a worldwide leader in providing cloud-based waste and recycling solutions for customers in business, government and the nonprofit sectors. With over 1,000,000 service locations worldwide, the company — which was honored as the Circular Economy Digital Disruptor at the 2017 Circulars and once described itself as an “Uber for trash” — has continued to develop cutting-edge technology products that add transparency to the waste and recycling industry.

Now in its tenth year, Rubicon’s RUBICONSmartCity is helping municipal governments improve their waste and recycling operations while transforming their fleets into roaming data centers that can help improve quality of life and deliver better government services through data analytics. And earlier this month, the Rubicon team launched a competition for what it’s calling “Waste Fit Champions” around the world, who are helping propel their organizations toward true sustainability.

We spoke with David Rachelson, Rubicon’s VP of Sustainability, to learn more.

Can you tell us more about Rubicon’s approach to waste management?

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unveiling of
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Waste Fit

New Metrics '18.

We’re a technology company that helps businesses, governments and organizations better manage waste and recycling. We’re transforming the industry by leveraging data. We look at areas like waste volume and waste type, then analyze the numbers and search for ways to optimize and streamline waste services. Our platform utilizes a vast network of haulers to provide customers with customized solutions. From there, we use metrics to derive more precise pick-up times, aid haulers in improving their routes, assist in arranging a successful waste reduction and recycling programs. Our mission is to end waste, and that can mean working with our customers to not only improve their waste and recycling solutions, but to help them eliminate wasted time, wasted energy and wasted resources.

Rubicon offers technology solutions for companies, cities, haulers and fleets to better manage their waste — where have you seen the greatest progress toward eliminating waste, and where do you see the greatest remaining/missed opportunities (if any) in the waste-management value chain?

We’ve seen great progress with our RUBICONSmartCity platform, and that’s something about which we’re incredibly proud. For example, we are working with the City of West Memphis to improve its sanitation efficiency. Through our technology, we’re able to show the city their recycling rates and improve the speed of service with better routes. With performance baselines and sustainability metrics, like diversion rates and greenhouse gas emissions, we can help cities more efficiently and effectively work toward their waste-reduction goals.

Now, in terms of the biggest opportunity, I see two things: First, people need to consider that waste management isn’t a utility. That means understanding that you have a choice in your provider, and there are new ways to do things today. Secondly, we have the opportunity to continue innovating through technology. I kind of see this as the “last frontier,” so to speak. In every other market, technology has transformed the industry. That’s going to be true for waste management, as well, and Rubicon is driving that change. So, to tackle our global waste problem, we’re working on scale and demonstrating how digitizing the industry can benefit everyone.

Rubicon recently made its RUBICONSmartCity mobile app available on the Amazon Web Services Marketplace. Can you tell us more about the app and how cities are using it to overhaul/improve their waste-management strategies?

Absolutely, I’m excited about the steps we’re taking with our RUBICONSmartCity product. We’re moving forward in a big way to help governments of all sizes confidently work toward their sustainability goals and create more data-driven and efficient services for citizens. With one of our partner cities, we identified a combination of actual and potential cost savings totaling more than $700,000 annually. With our technology, cities are diverting more waste from landfills, reducing maintenance costs and improving overall service delivery. RUBICONSmartCity tracks metrics like vehicle location, route completion and service confirmations through an app in real time. Drivers can tell the city, “hey, there are blocked bins here” or “we’ve found contaminated recycling areas.” That information goes back to a secure website for supervisors and dispatchers to assess a city’s overall performance.

Sponsored by
Rubicon Global.

Rubicon recently teamed up with Sustainable Brands, Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) and Goodr Co to launch your Waste Fit Champions competition — can you tell us more about the competition and how it came about?

Right now, there isn’t a clear opportunity to recognize all the great people and companies who are investing in sustainability. So, this competition came about because we wanted to highlight the ideas and innovations that people are putting forth to achieve a more circular economy. I think it’s our duty at Rubicon to grow the conversation and create more awareness. I’m hoping to show people that recycling — and even zero waste — is accessible, it’s achievable, and people are making huge strides every day. With our partners, we want to share the stories of these business leaders who are taking social and environmental good and turning it around to impact corporate financial performance. It will be a great way to show others how they can do the same.

How many Waste Fit Champions will be selected? Aside from being invited to attend our New Metrics ’18 event, what else will the champions receive?

We are going to be selecting the best of the best representatives of sustainability, and our hope is there are many who enter the competition and we have a tough time narrowing it down. We hope to build real and lasting partnerships with these people and their companies, and we will feature them on our website. We really want to elevate their stories and share all the good they are doing in the world. That includes inviting the winners to possibly talk on our industry recognized podcast, come speak to our employees and customers, and build on social connectivity through our different channels and blogs. I think this challenge is going to lead us in new directions, too, opening up Rubicon and others to fresh ideas. Nominees are still being accepted through the end of September, so for those reading this Q&A, they can go to for all the rules and information.  We invite the world of sustainability to share their great stories.  

Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]

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