Welcome to the Haul of Fame, a weekly series from Rubicon in which we sit down with a hauler partner to talk about their company, their community, and how they’re collaborating with Rubicon in our mission to end waste.
Meridian Waste, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a waste and recycling hauler company that operates nine hauling companies, five transfer stations, and three recycling facilities across North Carolina, Missouri, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida. The company has more than 250 waste and recycling vehicles in its fleet, servicing commercial, industrial, government and residential customers. The company collects more than 522,000 tons of solid waste and 18,000 tons of recyclables annually. With more than 400 employees, Meridian Waste has been working with Rubicon since 2014.
Meridian Waste’s Revenue Manager, George R. Sides, and Chief Marketing Officer, Mary M. O’Brien, sat down with Rubicon to talk about their company and mission for the Haul of Fame.
How does Rubicon’s mission to end waste match-up to Meridian Waste’s own company mission?
Meridian Waste: Here at Meridian Waste, we understand that solid waste and recycling collections, processing, and disposal is a vital infrastructure asset in any and all communities and must be managed with the utmost respect and care. We provide a core health and human service and are proud to be called garbage men and women. We never shy away from the job our team members are entrusted to fulfill on behalf of our customers. Along with Rubicon, our goal is to provide environmentally sustainable solutions to our customers to address the waste that we as a country generate on a daily basis in a safe and compliant manner and to help identify economically viable solutions to preserving natural resources in our collection and processing operations and in how we manage our facilities and equipment.
How does Meridian Waste distinguish itself from the competition?
Meridian Waste: What we do is garbage. And we love it! We do not try to be the R&D department of sustainable ideas and test markets. While that is certainly an option for multi-billion-dollar solid waste companies, we know our focus needs to stay on proven practices, safe operations, customer care, and financial returns. Our customers demand consistency, communication, and safe operations. When there are operational and economically viable solutions to implement newer technologies for our equipment and recycling processes, we are eager to implement and show the positive results to our customers via cost savings and waste diversion as well as to our shareholders via stronger financial performance. We are driven by the need, first and foremost, to provide a clean and healthy environment for those communities we service, and secondly, to offer an alternative to the ever-consolidating solid waste industry by serving as a well-funded, experienced, and independent solid waste company built to focus on long-term quality results and not Wall Street shareholder quarterly returns.
What is the view of Meridian Waste when it comes to participating in the circular economy and helping build a more sustainable future?
Meridian Waste: Meridian Waste, by the very nature of our business, is a critical partner in a circular economy and sustainable future. Unlike many other businesses and services, we generate a very small amount of waste materials in our operations. Instead, our overall service goal is to ensure that we collect, process, and dispose of the waste created by others in their manufacturing, production, and/or service operations, as well as waste and recyclables from household day to day living in a safe and environmentally compliant manner. Where and when there are viable markets for recycling and reuse, Meridian Waste shares alternative recycling and reuse options in place of landfill disposal, and encourages our customers to determine the environmental solutions that best meet their sustainability and financial goals. We are in the business of a clean environment and work diligently to provide solutions to better our world and manage the needs of our customers.
What do you love most about the community in which you work, and the customers you serve?
Meridian Waste: The garbage and recycling industry is very local when it comes to community needs, wants, financial capabilities, and political influences. It is rarely a situation of one size fits all. Thus, what makes the business so challenging—and rewarding—is the ability for Meridian Waste to respond nimbly and responsibly to those needs of our unique customers. We must be flexible with the changes that are outside our control such as the recycling commodities marketplace to find different solutions to meet the needs of our customers. It may be a new dual-stream recycling program or changing up the various commodities that are collected. It could entail implementing different equipment such as a compactor in place of multiple frontload containers for specialized waste or recyclables. Also, it means we must work to control those business influencers that affect our operational efficiency such as preventative maintenance and safety concerns. Our team members must commit to continual improvements in our training, our equipment maintenance, and our customer engagement to ensure that we bring unique and valued solutions to our communities’ waste and recycling needs.
Where does Meridian Waste see itself five years from now?
Meridian Waste: Meridian Waste is one of the few well-funded, independent regional solid waste players remaining in the industry. While we are primarily focused on expanding our operational footprint in the South, we are very engaged in identifying tuck-in acquisitions as well as growing the business through municipal bid opportunities and traditional organic growth. We value a diverse book of business including frontload, roll-off, and residential collections, transfer stations, recycling facilities, and landfills. We know that a truly integrated solution is the most viable solution for our customers and shareholders. We are excited about the opportunities before us and know that we have the team members and operational experience to meet the demands of today’s dynamic solid waste and recycling industry.