How Casella’s Erin Banfield Leads Waste Strategy for Municipalities

Erin Banfield, Director of Municipal Services at Casella Waste Systems, leads, builds, and executes strategy for municipalities, which comprise one of the largest customer segments in the company. Casella Waste Systems, headquartered in Rutland, Vermont, is the Northeast’s largest recycler and most experienced fully integrated resource management company.

Willona Sloan, Freelance writer

August 14, 2023

7 Min Read

Erin Banfield, Director of Municipal Services at Casella Waste Systems, leads, builds, and executes strategy for municipalities, which comprise one of the largest customer segments in the company. Casella Waste Systems, headquartered in Rutland, Vermont, is the Northeast’s largest recycler and most experienced fully integrated resource management company.

She joined Casella in 2015 as a territory sales representative based in Salem, New Hampshire. Following her success in field sales, she transitioned to the business development team, where she helped to grow municipal business segments before being promoted to her current role.

In this Q&A, Banfield, a Waste360 40 Under 40 award recipient, discusses her family’s rich legacy within the waste industry and how she has forged her own unique career path, continuing to learn and develop every step of the way.

Waste360: What are your major responsibilities in your role as Director of Municipal Services?

Erin Banfield: I work with all of our general managers, market area managers, and senior management, in setting strategy across our municipal book of business, working with both existing customers and new prospects on our go-to market strategy. That is looking at how we ensure that we're offering all of our services to our existing business customers, and then how we prioritize those prospects that we want to partner with.

Waste360: You have quite a family history within the waste industry and Casella. Can you explain?

Erin Banfield: The blatant connection is my dad has worked for the company for 35 years, but my great-grandfather started a business he operated in Boston that he sold. My grandfather and his brothers, there were three of them, Billy, Pat, and my grandfather, Cookie, bought a small hauler in Laconia. They then sold out to WM. At that point, that's when my dad moved back to Vermont with my mom and ended up working for Casella up in Vermont.

Contrary to probably what a lot of people believed, [when I started at Casella], I had no idea what I was doing. I had not a clue what I was getting myself into, but because of my family history in the industry, I was able to lean on a number of people for support, ask questions, get some direction.

Then, because of the longevity of knowing Casella folks, I had kind of a core group of mentors that I was able to lean on that have known me since I was a little kid, and were excited to see another generation in the company. I would say I was extremely fortunate to have been able to come into Casella. I think, as a whole, we do a really good job of welcoming people in and making sure they have the support they need. I like to think I probably had a little extra support in that fashion just having had prior relationships with some of the folks here.

Waste360: How have you learned either through professional development or mentoring?

Erin Banfield: I've got endless mentors within the company, but really, specific mentors have been my immediate manager or boss in the different roles that I have been in with the company. It's all about the amount of time that they've put into me, but also into the people that they support every day. I would hope it's not specific to Casella, but I can say it surely is true at Casella, that people want to teach and they want you to grow and succeed. They invest a lot of time and energy into teaching you about the industry, the history. No one's got the crystal ball of what the industry is going to look like or the market itself is going to look like, but I think everybody here is open to new thinking and new ideas and never saying no to being a part of a project.

I think the thing I like most about my job is I don't get to just work with one group within our company. I've been able to have exposure to all lines of our business, whether it's our hauling assets or disposal assets or recycling facilities. I worked really closely with our organics team and learned more of the technical side of the business. I’m certainly not an expert in any form or fashion, but I think that the company, as a whole, they're really good teachers, and they're really passionate about the work that we do.

Waste360: What is something that you personally enjoy about working with municipal clients?

Erin Banfield: The people, honestly, which might sound like an easy answer. As we continue to grow, and as much as some of our neighboring states might be very similar, there are no two towns that are the exact same. You could be providing the same exact service from one community to another, but their needs are going to be different. How you communicate to their residents, what they're looking for, and what's important to them may be different. I think building that relationship with the town itself, the community itself, is the most exciting thing.

Casella is super proud of being part of the communities that we serve in. Our employees live and work and breathe and go out to dinner and do everything in these communities. The work we do in the communities is just as important to us as it is to the municipal officials and the residents.

Waste360: Can you talk about your commitment to “servant leadership?” What does that mean to you?

Erin Banfield: I'll go back to the culture, the mentorship, that I’ve had within the company. The company has grown. It is all about serving each other and how we continue to grow. You can't be successful working on your own. Through all of the work that I do in partnership with our operating teams, with our general managers, it's all about supporting each other. You can't be too busy to help your counterpart or even a person in a different division that's got a different goal.

We continue to remind ourselves that we're here to serve each other, we're here to work together, and we're part of the same team.

Waste360: Even for you, entering the waste industry wasn't necessarily your number one choice for your career path. What do you think is something that people don't understand about the waste industry or maybe get wrong about the industry?

Erin Banfield: I think when I first started working for Casella, I had some friends in college go, "Why are you working in the trash industry? That sounds gross." Some days it is; depending on what you're doing. But, I think one thing that the pandemic did for the industry, the past couple of years, was really humanize it, in the sense that you had the majority of folks working from home, kids being at home, not in school, and every week, seeing their drivers out, in the rain, snow, 90 degrees, whatever it might be, working to pick up their trash and recycling.

I think what that did was show the criticalness of our industry. We're providing an essential service that's helping to maintain the cleanliness of the places that we live and work every day. Without the industry, you can't even imagine what the world would look like. It's an essential service necessary to maintain the environment that we're living in.

Waste360: Do you feel like the waste industry offers opportunities for growth for young professionals?

Erin Banfield: 1000%. I think if you are eager enough to learn and grow, and maybe step outside your comfort zone in some instances to learn something new, there's endless opportunity within the industry. I think the way our world is changing, it’s important to have that ability. There is a need for creative thinking around how we continue to evolve the industry and not just rely on the way it was done in the 1960s or 1970s or 1980s. The industry changes every day, and I think the more young, motivated professionals who come into the industry, the better off it will be.

About the Author(s)

Willona Sloan

Freelance writer, Waste360

Willona Sloan is a freelance writer for Waste360 covering the collection and transfer beat.

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