Casella Waste Systems and Goodwill won the 2020 NHBSR Partnership for Innovation Award on Wednesday at the New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility’s annual spring conference. The business/nonprofit partnership lets people in New England act more sustainably while also helping people who have significant barriers to employment get and keep great jobs.
“This partnership is an extension of our company’s 40-year history of building community and environmental sustainability,” said John Casella, chairman and CEO of Casella Waste Systems. “Working with Goodwill to give people facing challenges a ‘second chance’ is an important part of our focus on finding, training, and growing talented employees from all walks of life.”
The award recognizes a collaboration that created synergy and progress on a sustainability initiative where it might not otherwise have been possible. The partnership demonstrates a creative approach and measurable results that inspire other business leaders in New Hampshire to take action.
For the last seven years, Goodwill Northern New England and Casella Waste Systems Inc. have shared knowledge and resources in an ever-changing world of resource management and job creation.
“We realized a unique collaboration could help build stronger communities. Goodwill’s Job Connection program was that sweet spot,” said Rich Cantz, President and CEO of Goodwill Northern New England. Casella helped fund Job Connection’s expansion into Vermont.
Job Connection offers holistic, wrap-around supports to every client and stays with them for as long as they’d like — free of charge. The program focuses on the whole person and understands that often it’s not just a clean résumé keeping them from a great career, it’s also complicated barriers such as past addiction, long-term poverty, mental health issues and more. Job Connection provides both a Career Adviser and a Life Navigator (social worker) to help each person work through all of life’s challenges until they can reach personal stability.
“Casella’s staff are experts in recycling — Goodwill is an expert in reuse. When we collaborate to make the highest use of every item, the planet benefits. Obviously, both of us see sustainability as going beyond that, to a strong focus on people and building stable lives through meaningful work,” said Paul Ligon, Senior Vice President of Sustainable Growth at Casella Waste Systems.
The power of the partnership, Ligon said, begins with resource management. Goodwill reuses and recycles more than 60 million pounds of stuff every year. Casella’s investment of volunteered time and industry resources has been key to furthering Goodwill’s sustainability goals. As an industry leader in recycling, Casella has helped the nonprofit with operational efficiency and safety standards, allowing Goodwill to make the most use of every donation and keeping items in use.
Additionally, Goodwill has given some of Casella’s customers a re-use option. For instance, when Casella does a “college clean up” after students leave, home goods like clothing and furniture can go to Goodwill.
Casella Waste Systems, Inc., headquartered in Rutland, Vermont, provides resource management expertise and services to residential, commercial, municipal and industrial customers, primarily in the areas of solid waste collection and disposal, transfer, recycling and organics services in the northeastern United States.
Goodwill Northern New England is an independent nonprofit social enterprise in New Hampshire, northern Vermont, and Maine. Last year Goodwill kept more than 65 million pounds of stuff out of our region’s landfills — if you put all of those items in tractor trailers and lined them up, the line would be 26 miles long. Goodwill NNE uses revenue from its stores to fund innovative workforce programs like Job Connection, which marries the best practices of social work and workforce development to help people through challenges so they can get a great job that will sustain themselves and their families.