Three decades ago, the business of trash was just that – hauling garbage – and Dave Call, senior vice president of Operations Support for Republic Services, was at the sunrise of his career in the waste industry, working as an outside consultant.

Stefanie Valentic, Editorial Director

February 25, 2024

3 Min Read
ElenaBs / Alamy Stock Vector

Three decades ago, the business of trash was just that – hauling garbage – and Dave Call, senior vice president of Operations Support for Republic Services, was at the sunrise of his career in the waste industry, working as an outside consultant.

“We transformed from a waste business where we got up in the morning, picked up the bins, tipped everything at a landfill and went home at the end of the day,” he says. “Then, we moved to waste and recycling, then recycling and waste.”

Fast forward to the current state of the industry, which has transformed from visions of landfills to environmental services and circularity.

“We’re very much considered part of the solution today, helping customers achieve their sustainability goals,” Call says.

In a recent interview with Waste360, Call reflects on collection and transfer’s past reputation as a “necessary evil.” He displays optimism and excitement when he thinks about the industry today – a path toward a greater good and not just a means to an end.

Macro trends such as environmental responsibility, circularity, decarbonization and artificial intelligence all contribute to the evolution of recycling and waste collection and management.

Call will touch on each of these topics during his keynote at the 2024 Global Waste Management Symposium.

During his career at Republic Services, Call has seen the company expand its environmental services portfolio, focusing on renewable energy production and carbon capture.

Republic Services currently operates more than 200 active landfills and nearly 70 landfill gas-to-energy projects. He stresses the importance of improving landfill biogas collection efficiency and beneficially reusing biogas.

“The more gas we collect and repurpose, the better,” he says.

The road to a sustainable future can also be achieved through fleet electrification and AI technology. However, cost considerations can hinder progress.

“Fleet electrification requires infrastructure and a lot of site development work,” Call says. “You have to get power off the grid and to your facility. You need the infrastructure in place to charge your trucks.”

Call mentions the more than 15,000 chemical constituents in the PFAS category, which need to be researched. There are more questions than answers right now, which is an opportunity.

“All of us need to act responsibly as we work with our customers, regulators and elected officials to ensure we're making thoughtful, fact-based decisions on how to advance the industry,” he says.

AI is becoming more common in the industry, utilized for a broad range of tasks, including waste stream characterization, sortation, quality control and route optimization.

“We're using cameras and digital technology to understand contamination,” Call explains. “We’re using this technology to help educate customers on proper recycling and waste disposal. This helps to clean up our waste streams and improve efficiency at our recycling facilities.”

Learn more about How Sustainability is a Platform for Growth during Dave Call’s keynoteaddress at GWMS on Monday, Feb. 26 at 9 a.m.

About Dave Call:

Dave Call is Senior Vice President of Operations Support at Republic Services, a company consistently recognized on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and among Barron’s Most Sustainable Companies. Dave leads the company’s fleet management, operations technology, operations support and engineering groups. He has worked for Republic Services for 23 years and holds bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and chemical engineering, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of California, College of Law, San Francisco. Dave serves as a Trustee and Treasurer for the National Waste and Recycling Association.

About the Author(s)

Stefanie Valentic

Editorial Director, Waste360

Stefanie Valentic is the editorial director of Waste360. She can be reached at [email protected].

 

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