Zero Waste CEO Panelists Offer Best Practices

Four panelists explained to Summit attendees the afternoon of June 2 the viability of having zero waste enterprises that make money, promote reuse and ultimately keep significant amounts of materials out of landfills.

The Zero Waste CEO Panel featured leaders of Intechra, Thrift Recycling Management, Salvage Direct and CleanScapes Inc.  Panelists shared interesting anecdotes from their experiences in the green economy.

“Our absolute goal is zero landfill impact,” said Intechra CEO Michael Profit.  Intechra recycles computer-related equipment.

Phil McMullin, of Thrift Recycling Management, discussed how his business resells used books on Internet sites like  He said TRM has more than two million titles available online and currently sells about 300,000 books per month.

He offered insight into a few of TRM’s approaches.  For instance, he said the company prides itself on excellent employee benefits, which help keep its workers from leaving the business and reduces the need for retraining.  In addition, he said the firm gives away books that do not have tracking numbers and cannot be resold.  To date, TRM has donated 1.8 million of these books.

TRM combines its service mission with a detailed focus on the bottom line.  He said the enterprise has a “scorecard culture” in which employees are frequently updated on the company’s business.

“We are anal about using that report to drive our business,” he said of the scorecard.

Zero waste CEO panel attendees also heard from Dan Hoversten, of Salvage Direct.  The company recycles automobiles and other vehicles that have been totaled and no longer can be used for transportation.

He said Salvage Direct, which began operating in 1998, set up shop in areas hit by storms like Hurricanes Ike and Katrina.  For Katrina, which the Gulf Coast in 2005, he said the enterprise recycled 3,000 vehicles.

Chris Martin, of CleanScapes, performs environmentally sustainable streetscaping and garbage pickup services.

“We’re really trying to address the impacts of a solid-waste system,” Martin said.

He said the company employs practices that reduce its carbon footprint. For instance, CleanScapes puts two people on its garbage trucks.  This policy allows them to put 30 percent fewer trucks out on the streets.

Overall, Martin gave three main suggestions of good business practices: working with government, getting outstanding employees and maintaining focus.