Analyzing a Product’s Waste Lifecycle Journey Before It Begins

Liz Bothwell, Head of Content & Marketing

April 13, 2021

6 Min Read
Getty Images

Clean Earth, a division of Harsco Corporation (NYSE: HSC), recently announced the launch of Fullcircle, a new program that “strategically analyzes waste at each source of generation, then offers solutions for recycling and beneficial reuse alternatives.”

Fullcircle’s goals are to eliminate all waste, recycle as much as possible, and build scalable, innovative programs for customers focused on zero waste.

We wanted to learn more, so we sat down with President David Stanton. Read on for more details.

Please tell us more about Clean Earth and its new Fullcircle program.

Clean Earth is a leading provider of full-service, sustainable disposal and recycling solutions—whose portfolio of technologies and services touches nearly every industry that generates waste including retail, manufacturing, industrial, healthcare, energy, and infrastructure markets. And we are always looking at new initiatives that represent upside for our business and most importantly, our customers.

Fullcircle is one of those initiatives; it is our new Advanced Waste Lifecycle Program, which carefully and strategically analyzes waste before it even happens.

Who are the target customers for Fullcircle?

While Fullcircle’s customizable solutions may be a fit for a wide variety of customers, some of the first markets for the program are consumer packaged goods (CPG), food and beverage, medical devices, and light manufacturing.

Can you give us an example of how the service works?

Some of Fullcircle’s biggest successes so far are those that our customers have found the most valuable. One example of this is bringing clients to zero-waste-to-landfill ahead of their anticipated timeline through developing alternative processing, optimizing logistics and container solutions, and offsetting increased expenses through the customized recycling and reuse solutions that their specific waste or by-products required.

More specifically, with the onset of COVID-19, retailers experienced a lack of hand sanitizer on the shelves, leading to overproduction and a flood of products into the marketplace with a set shelf life. Across multiple customers, including a large home improvement retailer, our Fullcircle program supplied a safe, sustainable solution for the disposal and recycling of hand sanitizer amid the pandemic. Nearly 1.1 million pounds of non-viable hand sanitizer was moved to this sustainable use and recycling solution in 2020. Additionally, for that specific retailer, Clean Earth’s Fullcircle team was able to service approximately 40-50 locations within one week that required emergency cleanout and recycling a one-time volume of 800,000 pounds of hand sanitizer.

We have provided the same type of tailor-made waste lifecycle solutions for a multinational consumer goods corporation and its bulk waste, and for the alternative reuse of soap-like non-viable byproducts for other customers, among other projects.

How else has COVID-19 impacted your business?

We have strong, close relationships with our existing Fullcircle customer accounts, and even through the COVID-19 crisis, we have been able to maintain progress on their sustainability objectives and maintain success of the program. This is huge. We have not had material travel hindered, waste going to landfills because of urgency, facility closures or lack of trucks.

Are there any limitations on the types of waste you can help customers with?

Fullcircle has no limitations on the type of waste. Overall, our ambition is to solve the very difficult challenge of making it easy for our customers to properly manage their difficult-to-treat waste. It is an easy thing to say, but a hard thing to do.

All of our waste solutions are customized to take customers’ entire operations into account. They are also scalable, providing ways to control costs the added benefit of compliance and risk avoidance. We not only ensure programs are developed to uphold compliance with all environmental regulations – now, we are focused on the future, keeping companies from risk and expensive costs down the line.

How much does Fullcircle emphasize the economic benefits for a customer vs. the altruistic benefits?

Our emphasis is equally split between economic and altruistic benefits. When focusing on the economic benefits, we want our customers to know from the moment we begin working with them that our mission is to provide solutions that eliminate or recycle as much waste as possible. By strategically analyzing waste at each source of generation, combined with our team’s vast insight and experience, we have the ability to provide guidance from initial product concept to end-of-life recycling. This brings huge benefits to our customers, both financially and environmentally. There are brand benefits as well as potential benefits to a customer’s bottom line.

At the end of the day, we want our customers to succeed, and that has an immediate impact on how our team views their role in helping make that happen. With the challenging past year we’ve all endured, providing this kind of solution is one way that we can have a positive impact on our world and the waste industry, eliminating barriers and offering simplified solutions for all waste needs. We’re all about making life easier for our customers, providing an ecosystem that works for a business now, in the future, and for our environment.

Could you share an example of how you’ve helped a customer achieve both environmental and economic gains?

In 2014, the majority of one of our customer’s waste was being disposed of traditionally, with less than 25% of its by-products being recycled. By 2020, approximately 98 percent of that client’s material was being processed within a technology that’s considered recycling. And of that total amount, about 65% of their material was considered reuse, repurpose or alternative use that is a step above waste-to-energy.

Our Fullcircle program focuses on continuously evolving and simplifying customers’ administrative logistics, while maximizing efficiency. With this in mind, we’re now able to offer customers an enhanced tracking, reporting and data analysis of waste streams to monitor performance and measure against financial and corporate sustainability goals.

What aspects of waste management do you think tend to be the most ignored?

Servicing waste has not always been viewed as a contributor to company sustainability objectives. Sometimes waste service companies are viewed as a part of the issue, not the solution. While the industry is generally behind on sustainable solutions, it’s something we want to be in front of.

Unfortunately, exploring every stage of waste generation is often ignored, simply because it’s a lot for an individual company to take the time to examine every single aspect while also managing the entire business operation. These often-ignored steps are ones that Fullcircle acknowledges completely, ensuring that the customer is taken care of:

  • Upstream waste management at inception

  • Flow change investigation

  • Contamination reduction

  • Final placement

How much is data collection and tracking a part of your approach?

With several Clean Earth facilities nationwide, all electronics data is expunged in a secure manner prior to all recycling and demanufacturing. And our enhanced tracking, reporting and data analysis of waste streams is critical when monitoring performance.

By tracking every element of waste to its most recycled end-of-life destination, and by analyzing and advising on a product’s waste lifecycle journey before it even begins, our Fullcircle program aims to bring transparency and peace of mind to reporting protocols.

Anything else you want to share?

I am incredibly grateful to our 3,300 employees because we could not have executed the Fullcircle launch without the help of everyone, at every level, every day. Every person at Clean Earth is a contributor, and I appreciate all of their work.

About the Author(s)

Liz Bothwell

Head of Content & Marketing, Waste360

Liz Bothwell is head of content and marketing for Waste360, proud host of the NothingWasted! Podcast, and ghostwrites for others to keep her skills sharp and creative juices flowing. She loves family, football, her French bulldogs, and telling stories that can help to make the world a more sustainable place.

Follow her on Linkedin or Twitter

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