Monica Rowand started out by looking for a way to merge sports and sustainability, eventually she found her self winning a 40 Under 40 award for her part in helping sports stadiums achieve zero-waste.

Gage Edwards, Content Producer

July 12, 2023

Large crowds can create large amounts of waste in an instant, especially when crowds are very excited or utterly defeated over the outcome of a game featuring their favorite sports teams. Luckily for these stadiums that house thousands of people for a few hours a day, Monica Rowand, WM senior sustainability expert, is working diligently to prevent mass waste and install zero-waste practices.

While working at AmeriCorps, Rowand knew she wanted to work in the sports and sustainability intersection, so she went to grad school for business. From there she began working with universities and athletic departments on sustainability programs. Plus, she managed waste procedures and hauling contracts which gave her the background to make the jump to WM’s team, advising customers on waste components and comprehensive sustainability.

Rowand’s commitment to sustainability has not gone unnoticed within her company as she has been described as a “sustainability expert.” 

“Particularly the space of sustainability and expertise, it’s really being well versed in the understanding of the holistic nature that sustainability is and knowing that and being able to see that everything is interconnected,” said Rowand.“It's more than just knowing the specifics of what type of materials something is made out  of and the impacts it has, but really being able to step back and look at how that fits within the web of both existing systems like society, the natural phases that it interacts with and being able to look at things from that lens in order to evaluate and make recommendations on what would cause the least harm or be the most sustainable path moving forward.”

When working with sports stadiums on controlling their waste output, some of the big challenges come from what is available to the location. Unfortunately, for some locations, zero-waste isn’t always an option but Rowand and her team at WM make sure to focus on waste awareness and waste conscious design, helping these stadiums get as close as they can to a zero-waste goal.

“The daunting nature is that it depends so much on what is available locally in terms of diversion outlets. Approaching it from that basis, setting the baseline and expectation, but then striving for the best we can,” said Rowand. “In order to do that though means, taking a look at things from a comprehensive materials management view.”

“So, the answer isn’t just how do we get to zero-waste by diverting or finding non-landfill-based options, but finding the next best use for things and where can we reduce the waste from being created in the first place.”

Rowand’s continued hard work and success in her field was recognized by her peers, earning her a nomination and 40 Under 40 award, to which she says she was completely surprised. Even though she was deemed a winner, Rowand took the time to express her gratitude to the teams she works with that help make everything work.

“It was an honor to be recognized … but I cannot ignore the fact that everything I do, it really builds upon the teamwork of my teams that I work with. Specifically, the literal teams, the customers, and their staff. I’ve been lucky with WM that I walked into such an awesome baseline,” said Rowand.

“Yes, I was able to bring the ideas to the table, but it’s not ever one person that brings it to fruition. I am very happy to be at a company that is so invest in improving what’s possible for our customers and, in terms of sustainability, making large investments both in the area of recycling and renewable natural gas in order to improve the options, and make even more sustainable aspects possible across the board.

About the Author(s)

Gage Edwards

Content Producer, Waste360

Gage Edwards is a Content Producer at Waste360 and seasoned video editor.

Gage has spent the better part of 10 years creating content in various industries but mostly revolving around video games.

Gage loves video games, theme parks, and loathes littering.

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