Enjoy this Waste360 Sustainability Talks episode with Jonathan North, VP, Sustainable & Core Solutions, Rehrig Pacific. Prior to joining Rehrig, North spent the bulk of his career at logistics company CHEP and, most recently, managing sustainability at IKEA.
We spoke with Jonathan about Rehrig’s sustainability story, using hard-to-recycle materials, the importance of collaboration in meeting ESG goals, the Rehrig Roadshow Experience coming up at WasteExpo and more.
Here’s a sneak peek into the discussion:
Waste360: How has your experience in consumer-packaged goods helped, and will help going forward, in your role at Rehrig?
North: It has really opened my eyes. I’ve worked with both manufacturers and retailers—and most recently, all the way down to emerging last-mile solutions—so, the total experience from one end of the supply chain to the other. And understanding and acknowledging how important it is to get products moved through those supply chains as efficiently as possible. It’s given me a mindset where I ask a lot of questions, trying to uncover where customers’ pain points might be, where the challenges are in moving products—and obviously in the last year, we’ve seen how fragile some of these supply chains are. I think understanding how products and services move through them, and how Rehrig Pacific can satisfy and solve customers’ problems in this area, is a critical opportunity for us.
Waste360: Can you talk about what you hope the industry will see coming out of Rehrig in the next few years or so?
North: I think what we hope they will see is that we are a natural collaborative partner. That we’ve moved from the historical transactional relationship with customers and can lend support, help them identify and solve problems, and we can help articulate benefits beyond the traditional economic benefits. We can identify environmental advantage and opportunities that products realize for our customers—and communicate those.
Waste360: Can you talk about how Rehrig is recycling films?
North: This one is challenging, and the devil is in the details. It’s flexible by nature, unlike most of our products. However, we’ve been able to introduce relatively low levels, for the moment, of these flexible materials into certain of our products and we strive to do more and increase our use of recycled material. But it comes down to structural integrity and performance. We don’t want to put a ‘more sustainable’ product in the marketplace that underperforms and doesn’t last as long, because then you’re actually defeating the purpose of the ambition.
Waste360: I know you’re working with The Recycling Partnership, and you’ve said that collaboration is key. Hopefully this will encourage other companies to do the same.
North: Yes, there are some really powerful industry-level associations that we can partner with, where—through our example—we can inspire others, support others, learn equally from others, and drive a systemic movement. It’s the type of broad approach we need to take. The more we come together and land on common purpose, the more magnitude and scalability—and the faster we can drive innovation together.