Recognizing that our landfills continue to grow and the significant impact landfills have on our environment, Greenwave centers its operations around diverting the waste it collects from reaching landfills as much as possible. It employs a three step waste disposal process to achieve this: (1) donate, (2) recycle, (3) and finally dispose. In doing so, the main Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Greenwave seeks to address is ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDG #12).
York University- Schulich School of Business
When Ryan O’Neill founded Greenwave Bins Ltd., he knew that "a large proportion of waste that individuals and businesses produced ended up in landfills." Much of this can be attributed to unsustainable waste disposal practices among individuals and businesses. The growth of our landfills has had a harmful impact on our environment, contributing to air pollution, groundwater contamination, and the destruction of animal habitats.
With this in mind, Greenwave has embedded at the core of its operations, an innovative waste collection and disposal process aimed at diverting and minimizing the amount of waste individuals and businesses dispose to landfills. When Greenwave collects waste from a residence or business, it ensures that recyclable and reusable items are kept separate from items that may contaminate them and consequently make them unfit for reuse or recycle. In the company’s disposal process, its first resort – with the permission of the individual or business – is to donate items that are reusable to charitable organizations and forward the customer a donation receipt. Second, if the waste does not qualify for donation and is recyclable, Greenwave will sort it into categories such as electronics, metals, and furniture, and subsequently transport it to the appropriate recycling facility to ensure they are disposed in an environmentally friendly manner. Finally, Greenwave will dispose the waste at a landfill, only as a last resort.
To date, "many waste removal companies are not mindful of their collection process." They typically mix recyclable and non-recyclable items together, contaminating recyclable items, which forces them to landfill. Moreover, in the disposal process, "minimal effort is made to promote the reuse of items." Instead, there is a focus on quick and easy disposal, which typically directs waste straight to landfills. Greenwave’s collection and disposal processes primarily contribute to furthering the SDG of ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDG 12). Specifically, it contributes to reducing waste generation through waste reduction, recycling, and reuse (SDG 12.5).
Prior to the launch of Greenwave, Ryan O’Neill worked in a wide range of industries. A common theme that he found was that businesses produce a substantial amount of waste and often hire private waste removal companies to dispose of it. Seeing the significant amount of waste that businesses frequently disposed prompted him to dig deeper into where the waste actually went. He found that due to a fixation on efficiency, many private waste removal companies disposed directly to landfills, without a serious attempt to divert waste. He learned that waste removal companies typically collected all types of waste together, which caused recyclable items to be rejected by recycling facilities due to contamination. Understanding the significant effects that landfills can have on the environment, Ryan was inspired to launch his own waste removal company, with a focus on landfill diversion.
In 2018, Ryan launched Greenwave with a mission to “divert as much residential and commercial waste as possible from the landfills in the areas it serves.” Pulling from his eye-opening experience, Ryan believed that “reusing and recycling in order to reduce the amount of waste directed to landfills was an effective way to divert and ‘dispose’ of waste.” This inspired Greenwave’s disposal process of donating reusable items to charities and ensuring it recycles all the non-biodegradable waste it collects. Furthermore, Greenwave’s disposal process formed the company’s collection process of keeping reusable and recyclable items separate from other waste. Ryan wanted to ensure that “reusable and recyclable items that Greenwave collected would not be rejected by charitable organizations and recycling facilities, and ultimately forced to landfills.”
In the short run, Greenwave’s collection and disposal process has had a direct positive environmental impact on local landfills. Greenwave has only been in existence for 2 years but has "diverted approximately 58% of the waste it has collected," limiting the air pollution, groundwater contamination, and destruction of animal habitats from landfills in Muskoka and its surrounding regions.
Moreover, Greenwave’s innovation has prompted some local competitors to employ similar responsible disposal methods, with a focus on landfill diversion. While this results in greater direct competition for Greenwave in the short run, in the long run, the combined effort of private waste removal companies will have a larger impact in limiting the negative effects that our landfills have on the environment. As a result, not only has Greenwave’s collection and disposal processes impacted the environment on a micro level, it has the potential to have a broader environmental impact by influencing the industry.
While the environment has benefited from Greenwave’s collection and disposal processes, so has Greenwave. As a result of its new processes, Greenwave is providing both a new service and opening a new sustainable waste removal market locally. The company’s niche market position and service differentiation has led to increased revenues and growth in the last 2 years.
With its early success, Greenwave has expanded its team of four employees to ten since its inception. The employees hired by Greenwave truly believe in the company’s mission, participate in executing the company’s sustainable collection and disposal processes, and thus feel that their work is meaningful. The company’s culture centered on meaningful work has increased productivity and influenced employees to grow with the company. As a result, Greenwave has experienced great results with retaining its employees.
Through landfill diversion, Greenwave’s collection and disposal process is a means to limit the air pollution, groundwater contamination, and destruction of animal habitats that have resulted from the expansion of landfills. Landfills emit a wide range of toxic gases, such as methane, or gasses from household chemicals, contributing to air quality issues. Moreover, these gasses are highly flammable, and thus cause landfill fires, further polluting our air. Additionally, a lot of the toxins from waste that reaches landfills seeps into the soil, reaching our groundwater, and eventually finding its way into our fresh waterways. This is common for electronic waste, which contains mercury and lead. Furthermore, as we generate more waste, the space we need to accommodate this waste increases. As a result, animal habitats are destroyed to make way for new landfills, and in turn, displaces our wildlife.
The purpose of the donation step of Greenwave’s disposal process is to divert waste from landfills by reusing items, such that they are used to the end of their useful life. This reduces the demand for manufactured products, and consequently the amount of waste in our landfills. Less waste in our landfills means we require less space to accommodate waste and thus preserve our wildlife and their habitats. It also means less air pollution caused by our landfills. Diverting waste from landfills by ensuring recyclable items are correctly collected, sorted, and subsequently disposed of at appropriate recycling facilities, also limits the environmental effects of landfills. For example, proper recycling of metals and electronic waste will ensure their toxins do not contaminate our groundwater.
Ryan O'Neill, Founder
Keep this story going! Share below!
Muskoka and Surrounding Areas, Ontario, CA
Business Website: https://greenwavebinsltd.com/
Year Founded: 2018
Number of Employees: 2 to 10