Former English Teacher Switches Focus to Medical Waste

Waste360 sat down with Stericycle Environmental Solutions’ Meg Moynihan to discuss the company’s drug take back program and key moments in her career.

Megan Greenwalt, Freelance writer

November 6, 2018

6 Min Read
Former English Teacher Switches Focus to Medical Waste

Stericycle Environmental Solutions helps organizations and consumers return unwanted medication in an effort to reduce the amount of medication waste that ends up in landfills and the water supply. Recently, the Lake Forest, Ill.-based company launched its pharmaceutical consumer TakeBack suite, which includes Seal&Send Medication MailBack Envelopes and Medication Collection Kiosks.

According to those who work at Stericycle, Meg Moynihan, the company’s director of strategic marketing, was instrumental in getting that program off the ground.

“While this initiative has taken a lot of hard work and dedication from everyone at Stericycle, Meg has been absolutely paramount to the success of the project, and it would not have seen as much success without her passion and expertise,” says Maricha Ellis, vice president of sales and marketing operations at Stericycle. “Specifically, Meg works to improve and grow Stericycle’s kiosk and Seal&Send metrics. She meticulously keeps track of the tons of medical waste Stericycle is able to divert from landfills in order to measure the success of the program. Her dedication to the cause is clearly paying off because Stericycle experienced record operational volumes in November 2017.”

In addition to her development and enhancement of Stericycle’s pharmaceutical consumer TakeBack suite, Moynihan was key in establishing the company’s relationship with the National Safety Council (NSC) in a recent partnership aimed at putting a stop to America’s opioid epidemic.   

Moynihan was honored with a Waste360 40 Under 40 award earlier this year and recently sat down with us to discuss Stericycle’s drug take back program and other key moments in her 10-year waste and recycling career.

Waste360: How did you begin your career in the waste and recycling industry?

Meg Moynihan: I have spent the entirety of my 10-year career in the waste industry at Stericycle. I began in client services and worked in several positions with different customer segments before transitioning to the marketing department two years ago.

My background prior to Stericycle is definitely nontraditional relative to my current responsibilities. I used to teach English, but I have had the opportunity to work with many industry experts here at Stericycle who have provided me with invaluable on-the-job training in waste operations and regulations.

Waste360: Describe your new role as director of strategic marketing for Stericycle.

Meg Moynihan: I actually took a new position in July of this year as director of strategic marketing, so I now manage a team that is focused on new ventures and business development. We are responsible for assessing new prospective service lines for Stericycle, evaluating their return on investment potential and shepherding them through a stage-gate process to bring them to market.

We also handle large-scale change management projects related to hazardous waste operations, such as EPA’s [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] recent adoption of the new e-Manifest requirements.

Waste360: What do you consider your biggest achievement within the industry?

Meg Moynihan: The achievement I am most proud of is helping to design and support our consumer drug take back program. This important service provides the general public with a safe, simple and anonymous way to dispose of unwanted medications, either by dropping them into a collection kiosk or by using a Seal&Send return envelope to mail them back to Stericycle.

With new and terrible statistics being published nearly every day relative to the impact of the opioid epidemic in our communities, it is critical to educate the public about the dangers of prescription drugs and encourage them to regularly dispose of any expired contents in their medicine cabinets.

Utilizing a safe drug take back mechanism like Stericycle’s kiosk and Seal&Send solutions helps prevent drug diversion as well as pharmaceutical contamination in the environment.

Waste360: What is your role in Stericycle’s Seal&Send Medication MailBack Envelopes and Medication Collection Kiosks?

Meg Moynihan: My team and I are responsible for the go-to-market and sales strategy for Stericycle’s drug take back program along with continuous improvement initiatives to optimize compliance and profitability.

Waste360: What keeps you motivated in your work now and moving forward?

Meg Moynihan: The best motivators for me are maintaining perspective on how my work connects to Stericycle’s larger environmental and business goals and thinking about how far we have come as an organization and an industry.

Even 15 years ago, drug disposal was a niche that was not high on the enforcement agenda, but we have seen a real shift in awareness since then that I believe has been fueled both by the opioid epidemic and by the water quality studies that continue to show widespread pharmaceutical contamination of waterways around the U.S.

Waste360: What are some exciting opportunities that you see opening up within the industry?

Meg Moynihan: We are just beginning the transition toward electronic manifesting of hazardous waste, and I see this producing a wide range of opportunities for transporters and disposal vendors to help generators move into the 21st century in terms of data analytics and recordkeeping.

Waste360: How did you establish Stericycle’s relationship with the National Safety Council?

Meg Moynihan: In summer 2017, I was tasked with evaluating third-party advocacy organizations that Stericycle might be able to partner with to drive awareness about proper drug disposal and its role in combating the opioid epidemic.

After surveying several different candidates, we ultimately decided to pursue a partnership with NSC for a couple of keys reasons: first, they already had a very specific and developed proposal for their Stop Everyday Killers campaign, and second, they were actively seeking a call to action with a partner who could provide a tangible leave-behind with those who attend the exhibit.

Relatively quickly after I was able to connect with NSC, both organizations recognized the collaborative potential, and it has been incredibly gratifying to see the success of Stop Everyday Killers over the last 12 months. NSC has been a wonderful partner to us.

Waste360: What advice do you have for someone who is looking to make a career for themselves in the waste and recycling industry?

Meg Moynihan: I think the best blueprint for long-term success in such a dynamic industry is to come in with an open mind and a cross-functional approach. The most successful projects I’ve been part of have been driven by a results-oriented methodology that doesn’t get bogged down in how things have always been done but still maintains compliance as the top priority.

In this respect, I think coming into project management from outside the industry has been an asset, because it allows me to enter discussions without any preconceived ideas about what works and what doesn’t. Also, read the regulations. Being able to navigate and speak to the details of the 40, 49 and 21 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) is a skill that serves everyone in the industry regardless of position or department.

Waste360: What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

Meg Moynihan: As evidenced by my past life teaching English, I love to read—either by the lake in the summer or curled up with a blanket during the cold Minnesota winters. I also enjoy cooking, running, gardening and yoga.

About the Author(s)

Megan Greenwalt

Freelance writer, Waste360

Megan Greenwalt is a freelance writer based in Youngstown, Ohio, covering collection & transfer and technology for Waste360. She also is the marketing and communications advisor for a property preservation company in Valley View, Ohio, and a member of the Public Relations Society of America. Prior to her current roles, Greenwalt served as the associate editor of Waste & Recycling News for three years and as features editor for a local newspaper in Warren, Ohio, for more than five years. Greenwalt is a 2002 graduate of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism.

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