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2023 Waste Industry Will Lean On Circular Economy, Data, and Technology

2022 was a unique year in the waste and recycling industry. The stage is set for companies in 2023 to embrace reporting, carbon reduction, and technology.

Bradford Arick | January 12, 2023


2022 was a unique year in the waste and recycling industry.

Unprecedented, unpredictable events upended the industry for businesses. Global energy markets were thrown into chaos following the geopolitical conflict in eastern Europe. The price of a gallon of fuel here in the U.S. skyrocketed and much of that cost passed to the customer. As the country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation also catapulted the price of seemingly everything into the stratosphere. These cost hikes meant companies paid more for the same waste management services. 

As we turn the page into a new year, it’s this arena in which the waste industry finds itself. It sets the stage for companies in 2023 to have an even greater need for accurate data and reporting. Carbon reduction will be a greater priority for many businesses, and technology will be at the forefront of finding sustainable solutions. Companies will also start embracing a circular economy model as they realize the potential to reduce waste, cut emissions, and save money.

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Here are RoadRunner’s waste industry predictions for 2023:

1. accurate benchmarks and data will be increasingly valuable

Over the next year, accurate benchmarks and data relating to how companies are mitigating climate-related issues will become increasingly important. 

RoadRunner first told you about new potential emissions reporting rules from the SEC last spring. At that time, the agency launched a proposal to require certain companies to report scope 3 emissions or those “that occur in the value chain of the reporting company.” The SEC has extended the public comment period and expects to make a final ruling sometime in 2023.

The European Union also enacted as law the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive in 2022. The new law aims to increase transparency as it relates to non-financial disclosures for companies. 

Lawmakers in Canada put forth a draft of Guideline B-15: Climate Risk Management last year. The plan introduced the idea that companies would be required to report climate risk as it relates to the business's finances. 

Those three things all have the same goal: rein in the wild west of climate risk-related reporting. 

On top of that, there will be an even lower tolerance for businesses accused of greenwashing. Greenwashing occurs when a company makes unverified claims that its products or services are environmentally friendly and/or it is making changes to its operations to lessen its impact on the environment. 

Younger generations, think Millennials or Gen Z, are more aware of the greenwashing problem than ever before. They’re ready to take on major companies whenever an issue comes to light. More questions, greater transparency, and more accurate data are all expected to help curb greenwashing over the next year.

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2. carbon reduction will become a priority for businesses and be easier to implement

Carbon reduction for businesses will become a major priority for businesses over the next year, and as a result, will be easier to implement than ever.

Major corporations have realized that what is good for the environment is also good for the bottom line. Actively working to reduce a business’s carbon footprint can positively impact an ESG score and attract more investors and customers. Investors chose $17.1 trillion in assets in 2020 according to ESG metrics.

2023 could be the year in which businesses get serious about carbon reduction through actual processes that work. Things like energy-efficient equipment can save more than 1.5 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing waste and optimizing waste management programs can cut carbon emissions by ensuring your business has the right equipment and the best pickup schedule. Haulers might be able to cut down visits to service your dumpsters or carts. These examples help avoid carbon taxes for some industries and can help a business move away from the carbon emission trading system.

Buildings that don't have energy efficient systems and don't prioritize sustainability are becoming harder to finance.

Specifically, the real estate sector will need to make strides toward decarbonization to stay competitive. Buildings that don’t have energy efficient systems and don’t prioritize sustainability are becoming harder to finance. There will be a push to retrofit older buildings, especially as developers tap into government funding and credits from the Inflation Reduction Act.

Lastly, carbon removal technology will also continue to evolve and will become easier for businesses to adopt in 2023. The Biden administration and U.S. Energy Department announced $3.5 billion would be invested in programs to help capture carbon from the atmosphere. With such a large pool of funding ready, companies will be more than willing to try new technologies as well as nature-based solutions to help draw down carbon in the air.

HERE ARE 5 ways better waste management is good for your business!

3. technology will drive progress in sustainability

Technology will be the engine that drives progress in sustainability in 2023. Consumers today are more in tune with how products are created, and how services are impacting the environment, and businesses will have to adapt more than ever before.

First and foremost, renewable energy will continue to become more affordable and widely available. Despite lingering logistics issues and geopolitical problems, solar and wind power will continue to be rapidly added to the electric grid. One international group of public accounting, tax, and advisory firms expects solar power to eclipse a terawatt in 2023. Wind power will become more cost competitive with fossil fuels, saving money for many businesses. Technology will also continue to rapidly develop to scale energy storing solutions.

Technology is already seen as a haven for investment. With predictions for a brief recession expected in 2023 and the possibilities opened up because of the Inflation Reduction Act, the conditions are there for the climate tech sector to attract greater interest. Technology will be realized as a more powerful tool than ever before that can help companies meet sustainability goals. With data and reporting becoming a big deal for businesses, technology will be ready to step into the arena, offering new and improved ways for companies to track what’s happening. There will also be greater efforts to reduce electronic waste with more e-waste recycling options coming online as well.

Trust in large tech companies has been tested in recent years. As a result of greater investment, more jobs will be created in this area. It will also be a time when businesses must define their purpose more clearly, going beyond just existing to make a profit. That includes the tech sector.

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4. circular economy will be top of mind

One of the main aims of a circular economy is to reduce waste. Materials are kept in circulation for as long as possible, meaning they’re reusable again and again. This lends itself to needing fewer raw materials, potentially saving money on waste management costs, and can cut carbon emissions.

So how will the circular economy be more widely adopted? Businesses will embrace the five R’s: refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle. Economic activity is designed to be “restorative and regenerative” according to the EPA. Any material considered waste by one business or industry can be recycled, repurposed, or reused by another to create new products or services. Anything biodegradable will undergo processes like composting to help enrich new growth in the environment. Companies will start using things in ways that maintain value for as long as possible.

Businesses will also have to shift their collective mindset before truly implementing a circular economy. It’s changing a perspective on how things should be done from a linear, profit-focused attitude to one of collaboration and cost savings. 

Waste is on track to be 70% higher in 2050 than in 2016. Resources were consumed 75% more than the Earth's capacity to regenerate them in 2021.

Waste is on track to be 70% higher in 2050 than in 2016. Resources were consumed 75% more than the Earth’s capacity to regenerate them in 2021. Industries will have to start embracing a circular economy out of necessity. It will allow companies to maintain access to feedstocks, help solve issues with greenhouse gas emissions, and resonate with investors pushing for change. The construction industry can adopt reusable and recyclable materials. Electronics can be made to be more durable and to last longer. Warehouses and manufacturing facilities can become energy and resource-efficient.

Moving to a circular economy can save as much as a trillion dollars a year around the world. Imagine what impact circular economy solutions will have on your business when you take the first step in that direction.


RoadRunner is your partner in 2023 and beyond

RoadRunner’s unique, custom solutions mean your business can embrace all of these potential changes in the waste and recycling industry in 2023. If your goal is to optimize your waste management program, have a higher diversion rate, or simply have greater data transparency, RoadRunner can help.

We’re already able to provide your business with a number of helpful reporting metrics. Your business can’t manage what it doesn’t track. RoadRunner can provide clear, concise data on how much material is being diverted from landfills. We’re able to show how many gallons of water and fuel were saved and how our process cut carbon emissions, among other things. RoadRunner uses EPA-approved Metric Conversions and other calculations for your company. These reports give your business the ability to set benchmark success rates, putting a roadmap in place to do even better in 2023. It’s also a measure of data transparency.

When it comes to cutting carbon emissions, RoadRunner’s FleetHaul program is moving materials in ways that are better for the environment and your company. Local drivers use more fuel-efficient vehicles. Custom routing means there are no unnecessary stops, and the haulers can get to your location as efficiently as possible. RoadRunner’s dedicated team also ensures your equipment and services fit your needs. We don’t believe you should be paying for dumpster space you don’t need. We make sure the amount of service to your business is right. And we make sure your business is meeting its diversion rate goals.

RoadRunner’s technology is already driving innovation. We’re changing the waste and recycling industry through our powerful green technology. RoadRunner acquired Compology in 2021, the world’s largest waste and recycling smart-metering technology company. Hundreds of millions of data points captured from waste management equipment further enhance recycling rates, dramatically reduce carbon emissions, and enable RoadRunner to give accurate ESG data to each of our customers.

RoadRunner has raised more than $130 million from investors that see what we’re doing as the future. RoadRunner has also saved our customers nearly $50 million, keeping costs in check for waste and recycling.

Struggling to meet your goals? See what RoadRunner can do for your business today, whether you have just one location or hundreds across the country.



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