Liza Casella became a member of the waste and recycling industry about five years ago when she decided to join Casella Waste Systems, the company her family founded in the mid-70s. Since then, she has helped grow the municipal, institutional, commercial and industrial lines of business throughout the company’s Northeastern footprint. She’s also played a leading role in advancing Casella’s government affairs and legislative initiatives within the Northeast.
In addition to her role as director of solutions development and coordination, Liza Casella serves on the board of MassRecycle, is an active member of the National Waste and Recycling Association’s Future Industry Leaders Alliance and is a former volunteer assistant coach for Harvard University’s field hockey team.
“At a time when traditional solid waste management companies must rebuild themselves as resource recovery companies, we need thoughtful new leaders,” says Abbie Webb, Casella Waste System’s director of sustainability. “Liza brings a vision and energy to our transition that is inspiring and helps us to envision the future of our industry.”
The Waste360 40 Under 40 Award recipient recently spoke with us about how she decided to join the business, the company’s goals for 2017 and a couple things she would like to see change in the waste and recycling industry.
Waste360: How did you decide which area of the waste and recycling industry you wanted to work in?
Liza Casella: I was a young child during the time my father and uncle were building the company, and I witnessed significant growth of a transformative business at a time when the industry was also rapidly changing. This afforded me a unique opportunity to learn the underpinnings of this complex, dynamic business and industry.
Before joining Casella, I was working for Wake Forest University, the institution I attended. I didn’t initially have intentions of joining the business or the waste and recycling industry post-graduation.
About five years ago, I made the decision to pursue a development opportunity with the company. Once I joined the industry, I quickly became enamored by the people and this dynamic business charged with providing innovative solutions to managing resources. I am very fortunate to have joined a company whose business has been the topic of family dinner conversations for years and to have become part of such a special and unique culture that makes Casella an organization I am proud to represent.
Waste360: Tell us about your role as director of solutions development and coordination.
Liza Casella: My role today is focused on maximizing value to our customers and profitability to our company, and we do this through guiding principles of Resource Management and best management practices. Resource Management is a set of strategic practices and professional competencies that help organizations achieve economic and environmental goals through better material management. My team brings together all Casella has to offer—from professional services to hauling, recycling, organics and disposal solutions—to help our largest customers achieve resource management goals.
Waste360: What is Casella working on going into 2017?
Liza Casella: We have been successful in executing our company’s four key strategies so far this year — with a key focus on executing against differentiating and growing our offer through our unique resource management assets and services. Additionally, we will continue our efforts to advance materials management infrastructure in the Northeast and work diligently to continue making recycling and other forms of diversion economically sustainable.
Waste360: What advice do you have for the next generation of workers?
Liza Casella: Dive in, and take advantage of what this fascinating, uniquely complex and evolving industry can offer. An industry that offers myriad career paths from all levels of operations, sales, finance, safety, engineering, customer service, innovation and technology and much more. We are motivated by the opportunity to bring in and develop a new, youthful perspective on how we advance our business to meet the society’s needs of today and how we continuously evolve this model to address the needs of the future.
Waste360: What changes would you like to see in the waste and recycling industry?
Liza Casella: Our leaders, current and past, have made major contributions to advance technology and develop innovative solutions to solve complex issues facing our industry and society. I am excited to see my generation of young professionals continue to step up and embrace this mission-driven industry and develop new innovations leading us into the future.