At Rehrig Pacific, Kemrey Kidd, National Sales Manager, has been a leader in the push to automate labor, increase capacity, reduce costs, and address supply chain issues that affect waste collection.
In this interview, Kidd, who is a 40 Under 40 award winner, talks to Waste360 about how she works with municipalities to create waste management solutions, recent programs in Barbados and Baltimore, MD, and what she values most about Rehrig Pacific.
This interview has been edited for length.
Waste360: What are some of your major responsibilities?
Kidd: I have six direct reports, and I work with my team on the environmental side of our business. Rehrig Pacific is a large, industrial plastics manufacturer. We serve 11 different industries—environmental is just one of them.
My job is to work with municipalities and haulers, and entities of those, to improve their collection strategies; to be more sustainable; improve recycling rates and improve the recycling content that we’re getting in the field; and also manage the solid waste and how much is going into our landfills.
My job is to help municipalities, and the sales reps who are in those territories, come up with better solutions and strategies to get waste off of people's property, off of commercial property. Also, let's look at where we're putting this, and how we’re doing that, and making collection safer and more efficient. Some resources are people. We want to make sure that people are safe when they're out collecting our waste, and it's not just the trash fairies that come and get that. We want to help haulers, and those that do the collection, stay safe, and make sure that they're going home to their families, and those resources are protected as well.
Waste360: What are some recent projects or initiatives that you worked on where you felt you were able to make an impact for the company or the community that was served?
Kidd: One of the largest that we just recently did is Baltimore, MD. That was an interesting project because it was a public/private program. Rehrig Pacific provided the rollout carts, but we worked in conjunction with the Recycling Partnership to help fund the project, and then the Closed Loop Fund helped finance the project through the Baltimore Civic Fund to make sure that all of the Baltimore City residents got a recycling container out in front of their home. That was several hundred thousand containers that went out.
They were binned at the time. They had little bins, like the 18-gallon bins. When you switch from a bin to a cart, you can increase recycling by 40 to 60 percent. That's a pretty big impact going to a MRF [materials recovery facility] now, versus a landfill.
Dow, our resin supplier, helped us out as well. I think that with a big city, it's such a machine. They wanted to do something, and we had to come up with a way to get it done, and we had some great partnerships. We know that impacts Baltimore City in a positive way.
Two years ago, we rolled out the country of Barbados. We worked with an infrastructure company there called ProSource, and we rolled out the entire country. They now use our technology to manage the collection, as well as the containers, and the assets, and where they are. As landfills become full, we need to be mindful of what we're able to recycle and reuse, and also limit the trash. A cart limits that waste. You’re really helping communities limit waste, which is not only a cost savings, but it's an environmental savings.
Waste360: What is your educational or professional background that led you to this type of work?
Kidd: I graduated from Clemson University, and I have a degree in graphic communications and packaging science. I've always been interested in that field, and I worked for some printers for a long time.
My grandmother had the original three “R’s” on a t-shirt: “reduce, reuse, recycle.” My family has always been avid outdoors people. We would go to the national parks, and camp. Those were my vacations when I was growing up. A strong sense of environmental stewardship has been instilled in me from childhood. The opportunity to work at Rehrig Pacific, where sustainability is something that they not only talk about, but they invest in, is somewhere that I want to be working. It goes with my own core values.
Waste360: What is a Rehrig Pacific corporate value that is important to you, personally, and why?
Kidd: Rehrig Pacific has some excellent values. Will Rehrig, the ownership of this company, really puts his money where his mouth is, when it comes to family and sustainability. One of our core values is “family first.” I have a young family, and that's been important to me.
The sustainability activity that we're doing is in line with what the United Nations is doing, and we are trying to meet some of those 17 goals. I think that really resonates with me, that we're a company doing big international things.
Some of our other values like intrapreneurship, service to the company and customer, and servant leadership, are super important to this company. Growth, and the ability to have opportunity. The diversity that we have here is unbelievable. It’s unmatched. It’s a really neat place to be, and I love coming to work every day.
Waste360: Anything you would like to add that I didn’t ask you about?
Kidd: I'm super flattered to be nominated for the 40 under 40. It's a real honor. There's a lot of really smart people that I've looked up to for a long time that have had this opportunity. I'm just grateful.