Michael Hess


2021 is now officially in the rearview mirror and we’re already forging ahead in 2022. But as we look ahead, it’s important to look back where we started. One topic that took center stage and isn’t going away is sustainability. It’s no longer a nice to have — it’s expected. Companies are thinking about sustainable waste management differently because it’s critical to the environment we live in. We’ve reflected and rounded up the top trends in the past year that will continue to have a major presence.

Investing in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

As ESG accelerates, several key trends have emerged — from climate change to social unrest. And the pandemic has only intensified discussions about the interconnectedness of sustainability and the financial system. Investors are increasingly applying non-financial factors as a part of their analysis process to identify material risks and growth opportunities. While ESG metrics are not mandatory for financial reporting, companies are disclosing sustainability practices in annual reporting or making standalone sustainability reports. Multiple institutions are working to create standards and define the materiality to promote the incorporation of these factors into the investment process. Ultimately, companies that invest in the development and implementation of robust ESG strategies have endless benefits — the potential to attract more customers, lower energy consumption, create social credibility and more.

The Dynamic Duo in the Waste Industry: Technology and Data

We live in a world with ever-improving technology that aids in all areas of our lives, including the waste management industry. To meet sustainability and energy goals, waste and recycling solutions will continue to involve development of new technologies. The ability to turn waste into power has been one of the biggest innovations in the industry, using thermal conversion and heat, with or without oxygen, to turn biomass into energy like liquid fuels and chemical feedstocks. The other is the implementation of waste monitoring systems.

In the waste management industry, technology can increase operational efficiency, cut costs and enhance customer satisfaction by ensuring your waste program is performing at peak productivity. Investing in a smart waste management program will set your business up for success, informing your strategy with robust data, analytics and service insights every step of the way. You’ll be armed with powerful information to streamline, reduce costs and resolve any issues that may arise, freeing up your time to focus on your business and customers.

And what about data? Many waste monitoring solutions today offer a real-time glimpse into your waste program via a cloud-based dashboard. By logging on, you can view key data, including equipment fullness status, pickup and return status, pickup history, upcoming scheduled hauls and activity logs. Detailed reports and insights show a variety of key data buckets that will help keep you informed.

Zero Waste

With an increasing focus on waste prevention, communities across the country and the world have begun working toward zero waste: the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water or air that threaten the environment or human health.

How can you work toward becoming a zero-waste company? Start by analyzing your current waste management practices and establish goals for waste reduction. Once you have established goals, you can implement strategies and activities to achieve them. Most importantly, you must engage your staff members to carry out policies through awareness and training. Achieving Zero Waste won’t happen overnight. Moving from landfill disposal to recycling to zero-landfill and finally to zero-waste is a process and a goal that encompasses much more than diverting trash to the recycling bin, but diversion is still a perfect place to start.

Corporate Sustainability

Corporate sustainability is now expected. And many businesses have specific corporate sustainability initiatives in place. But it’s always important to reassess how your waste management and recycling programs are working toward your goals. Businesses can work to implement corporate sustainability strategies where the business delivers its goods and services in a manner that is both environmentally sustainable and supports its economic growth.

Michael Hess is founder and chief executive officer of Waste Harmonics, a Rochester, New York-based company that provides customized waste and recycling management solutions for businesses across North America. Michael leads Waste Harmonics’ team of waste/recycling, technology, logistics and customer service experts who manage waste and recycling services—which deliver significant costs savings—for single- and multi-location businesses in a wide range of categories, including retail, grocery, restaurant, travel center, logistics, distribution and shipping. Prior to founding Waste Harmonics, Hess served as vice president of U.S. operations for Capital Environmental Resource Inc., a solid waste collection and disposal company with $120 million in revenue and operations in the Northeastern U.S. and Canada. During his tenure at Capital Environmental, Hess served as an integral part of the acquisition, start up and integration of 11 solid waste companies for more than two and a half years. Michael acquired Waste Harmonics from Capital Environmental in 2001 and has since grown the business from a solely Northeastern U.S. focus to serving customers throughout the U.S. and Canada. For more information, call 585-924-9640, email [email protected] or visit wasteharmonics.com.
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