Coffee Talk: Waste Harmonics and Sustainability

Waste Harmonics

ESG, green initiatives, sustainability—three keywords that have been around for years and have grown in popularity as people and businesses want to do their part to better our world for the next generation.

But why is “going green” important and what impact will technology have on sustainability initiatives in the future? We sat down with Waste Harmonics’ new vice president of recycled materials Anthony “AJ” Diienno, director of business development and sustainability Melissa Modica and director of pallet management Taylor Little to discuss just that and more, including what sustainability looks like for Waste Harmonics as we head into 2023.

What is Waste Harmonics’ commitment to sustainability in the waste industry?

Melissa: For Waste Harmonics, it’s a social, environmental and economic phase—the triple bottom line. How can we as employees and a business contribute to sustainability, how can we help our clients meet and support their sustainability goals and how can I as a human at home in my community contribute and do the right thing? Our commitment is to help our customers source their waste diversion goals based on the materials they are generating for landfill diversion and uncover where we can help our customers economically reduce their costs.

AJ: Waste Harmonics is committed to the education piece—a lot of customers are committed to sustainability & have sustainability goals, but there are also customers that don’t fully understand what sustainability means or where to start. We’re helping them identify the process & walking them through all the options they have not only for today but ongoing education as their waste streams change & new technology and processes allow different options to divert from landfill. We help build that roadmap.

What is Waste Harmonics doing to put the right people in the right positions to help businesses achieve sustainability goals and help solve sustainability problems they’re facing?

Taylor: It’s exciting to see Waste Harmonics invest in this team and seek out true subject-matter experts. This is a time of growth for the company, and we want to make sure we have the right team on hand to grow with excellence, expertise and integrity so we can provide every piece of knowledge we have at our disposal to our customers. How do we become the one-stop shop for multiple lines of waste, and how do we incorporate sustainability into commodities so it’s not just one aspect of a waste stream or supply chain? That thought process and commitment allows us to approach customers holistically.

AJ: If you look at the company’s history, they’ve gone out and found talent and continue to go out and look at mergers and acquisitions to help the company and help our customers build with the right technology and people. We’re at the forefront of where the industry is growing.

What other ways can Waste Harmonics help businesses with their sustainability initiatives and goals?

Melissa: Education and training. For our clients, external success starts internally; setting up the right internal containers, signage, educational courses, zero-waste lunch initiatives and more. The technology is so important. When clients are reporting for ESG, they can stand behind the data of what they are generating and converting. It’s no longer a guessing game, they can stand behind that information.

Taylor: We marry the technology with the expertise. We have the ability to leverage the team and the technology to come up with some creative solutions outside of what may be normal. The educational piece allows us to be more proactive for our customers—here are your options for solutions, we understand the market, we understand the challenges and here’s what we should be preparing for.

What are the biggest hurdles businesses are facing when it comes to sustainability?

AJ: Depending on the supply chain, a lot of businesses historically have dealt with sustainability in a decentralized model. It’s data, education of the market, not understating what they have, what its value is & is it even recyclable Being able to get them from a decentralized model to a centralized model where they have the data at their fingertips and know in each region what they have is a hurdle, but it’s an opportunity.

Taylor: No matter what industry you’re in, the last two to three years have been different than what you faced previously. Being able to look at historical data and understand the nuance of how your industry was impacted is important. That’s where our technology and team come in: to start to get to a normal threshold so we can get a starting point for that data. What is the norm? What can you expect? We’re at a turning point where we can begin to evaluate where the market is headed and leverage trends to guide you to make an educated decision on the best choice for those supply chain streams.

What are some things that businesses can take advantage of to meet their sustainability goals?

Melissa: At Waste Harmonics, we’ve built great partnerships and leverage our knowledge to help guide and support our customers to their roadmap for sustainability goals. We invest in our technology and our people.

AJ: One of the best things a business can do to make sure they have the best processes in place is bringing in a partner like Waste Harmonics. By bringing in the professionals to review their entire supply chains waste stream it allows us the opportunity to improve what you’re doing today, resetting your sustainability program and goals.

Taylor: We look at a customer holistically and customize the program that makes the most sense to and for them. How can we make it the most efficient and most effective for them? We have the team and the flexibility to meet their operational needs. Nothing is cookie cutter; everything is custom for each customer to determine the best way to handle their needs.

What impact will technology have on sustainability initiatives in the future?

AJ: Technology continues to change—and that’s its impact. The technology in place today may not be the best technology in a year or five years. We continue to stay at the forefront and invest in technology, but that same technology is going to evolve.

What does sustainability look like as we go into 2023 and beyond? What are your personal goals and company goals?

Melissa: For me personally, it’s continuing to educate myself and stay ahead of the curve. Every year is different. We’ve changed so much—our clients are striving to do more and divert more and I’m trying to stay right up there with them with creative solutions.

Taylor: A big goal will be to look at the cyclical approach to the pallet market and determine where we have opportunities within our existing customers and future customers to make sure every pallet we’re taking in has a home somewhere back out in the market. Finding those opportunities is going to be critical in 2023.

AJ: Looking at where we’re headed as a country and everything we’re doing is going to impact sustainability. It’s our responsibility to give them the best solution even if it’s not the solution they have in place. That full communication is why we’re doing this, so they understand where the market is and where it’s going. Education is the biggest piece to explain to them the impact of sustainability. Let’s educate them as to why that’s a benefit for them and bring them that opportunity for a better today, tomorrow and future.

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