Sustainability is the New Normal: Event Takeaways

Following Rubicon’s first webinar (which is still available to stream), we recently experienced one of the busiest weeks in Rubicon’s virtual events calendar to date, with three major public events over three days, featuring Rubicon® speakers from across the company.

In a series of two blog posts, the first focusing on Rubicon’s work with city governments, and the second focusing on the company’s work with commercial enterprises, Rubicon’s Chief Strategy Officer, Michael Allegretti, and I are going to dig into the key takeaways from each of these events.

Key Event Takeaways: Commercial Enterprises

We recently published Michael’s key event takeaways from the point of view of city governments, which you can read here. Now, we’re going to look at the three events in question, Concordia Summit, Shadow Summit, and Climate Week NYC, from the point of view of commercial enterprises.

The topics of resilience, the circular economy, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) business practices are now more important than ever. I had the privilege of sharing my thoughts and facilitating dialogue with some of the foremost leaders in the field of sustainability during these three events.

For my Climate Week NYC presentation, which is available to stream at this link, I hosted a panel of some of the most innovative sustainability leaders in the industry today. The panel, featuring Caitlin Leibert, Head of Sustainability at Chipotle Mexican Grill; Michael Kobori, Chief Sustainability Officer at Starbucks; and Jeremy Faust, Environmental Sustainability Leader at Fifth Third Bank; focused on the role that businesses play in helping to develop and popularize circular economies.

Here’s Caitlin Leibert, Head of Sustainability at Chipotle Mexican Grill, quoted from the panel:

“Waste audits are the core of our diversion program. We get in the dumpster multiple times a year […] sometimes with our partners from Rubicon. We hand sort waste, that means we have an extensive transparent look into our waste, and can develop an informed strategy to achieve our goals.”

Caitlin went on to describe the “Gloves to Bags” program in which Chipotle partnered with Rubicon to turn the fast-casual restaurant’s disposable high-density polyethylene (HDPE) gloves into waste bags used at the same restaurants.

As one of the world’s largest buyers of avocados, Caitlin also described her excitement for the circular solution her team developed, turning avocado pits used by the chain every day into a “millennial pink” color dye used in the new Chipotle Goods apparel line.

Michael Kobori, Chief Sustainability Officer at Starbucks, spoke of the company’s sustainability initiatives over the decades, including the push for the use of reusable cups in their coffee shops. While this program has been put on temporary pause due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, Michael is optimistic about the program’s future.

In introducing Jeremy Faust, Environmental Sustainability Leader at Fifth Third Bank during the panel, I noted that Fifth Third has become the first publicly-traded company worldwide and first U.S. bank and Fortune 500 company to sign a contract that leads to 100 percent renewable energy through a single solar project. Jeremy went one further:

“Fifth Third is now committing to perform $8 billion in sustainable financing by 2025. This includes lending and financing for renewable energy projects (solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydropower), and really builds upon work that we’ve done in renewable energy lending and capital raising services, which have helped generate over 3.5 gigawatts of renewable energy projects.”

At Concordia Summit, I lead a conversation on how companies can incorporate ESG principles into their business model resiliency planning, offering common ground for the group to examine the industry standards, management frameworks, reporting methods, and stakeholder engagement central to successful ESG strategies. We looked at current ESG strategies, and I asked participants to look at their five and ten-year ESG goals through the lens of the on-going pandemic and associated challenges.

For my Shadow Summit presentation, I talked about how so many seeming challenges that used to be overlooked are now being seen as an opportunity. I looked at how the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relate to ESG goals, strategies, and challenges. I looked at how waste will shape our sustainable recovery, looking at waste at the intersection of air, water, and the earth. And I looked at how all of this encapsulates commercial resiliency with the simple idea that sustainable business is good business.

Rubicon’s mission is to end waste, in all of its forms, and we believe that reducing waste through circular solutions is one of the ways in which we will make our mission a reality.

Like Michael, I thoroughly enjoyed virtually attending and presenting at Concordia Summit, Shadow Summit, and Climate Week NYC this year. While I hope I’m able to attend in person next year, I was extremely impressed with the virtual experiences put on by each event.

To sign up for future events from or attended by Rubicon, and to look back on previous events in which we have been in attendance, take a look at Rubicon’s brand new events page.

To learn more about Rubicon’s work transforming the entire category of waste and recycling, be sure to download our inaugural Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report.

If you would like to learn more about Rubicon’s sustainability offerings, please reach out to Rubicon’s Sustainability team directly at sustainability@rubicon.com, or contact our sales team at (844) 479-1507.


David Rachelson is Chief Sustainability Officer at Rubicon. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.

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