2016 Waste Management Executive Sustainability Forum
From the "religion of recycling" to how recycling success should be measured, the 6th annual Waste Management Executive Sustainability Forum stirred up plenty of engaging discussion among its panelists and attendees. The event provided a platform to discuss how and why the circular economy is fractured, identifying collective challenges and approaches to overcoming these challenges through collaboration along the value chain.
“We must work with our partners along the entire value chain – from product manufacturers to end users – to ensure that we are all thinking as part of a single interrelated system to ensure the environmental models are right,“ said Jim Fish, SVP & Chief Financial Officer of Waste Management.
Here's what some of the speakers said during this year's forum:
"Recycling does make sense for some materials at some times in some places. My problem is with what I call the 'recycling religion.' The idea that recycling is this inherently virtuous activity, that the more we do of it, the better, and that the ultimate goal should be achieving zero waste." – John Tierney, author and The New York Times science writer
"If we really do have this civic religion, then I think that's something to be taken advantage of, and it's something that companies and municipalities and big corporations can take advantage of to actually improve recovery rates, but, most importantly, to get rid of the trash and contamination within the recycling." – Adam Minter, author and columnist at Bloomberg
"Sustainability is a choice, and the big challenge I see for sustainability in the green movement, in general, is we're seeing a fracturing of the global consensus...And when you talk about things like recycling, or toxins or whatever it happens to be, we (the United States) have the economic flexibility to do whatever we decide is necessary." – Peter Zeihan, geopolitical strategist
"One of the biggest challenges in the recycling industry, specifically, is we all are measuring our success based on different factors, and you see this collision of values, of economics, of environment...Everyone has a different set of metrics." – Jim Hanna, Director of Environmental Impact for Starbucks