In the world of Chicago waste collection services, one company leads the way in sustainability in the dirty business. Karen Coley’s SBC Waste Solutions may be a David among Goliaths in eco-friendly waste management, but the company pushes ahead.
The woman-owned and family-run residential waste collection company has already made a splash with a solar initiative for an industrial corridor in one of Chicago’s suburbs. Coley, founder and CEO, came up with the idea of all 20 businesses switching to solar power, so she talked to the mayor about the idea of engaging with the community.
These 20 companies in an industrial corridor are a great example of how businesses can engage with their local communities for better sustainability practices. Shawn Flood, partner at SBC Waste Solutions says the solar initiative idea caught on and grew rapidly.
“They came out with this initiative, and Karen started scheduling some local meetings with the mayor,” he says. “And once we started going, all of the involved businesses wrote letters to elected officials about all of them becoming solar together. They’re working to make it the first solar corridor in Illinois anywhere.”
With a focus on sustainable and eco-friendly practices, they aim to revolutionize the way waste is handled, ensuring minimal environmental impact. Since Chicago is known as a progressive city on issues of sustainability, environment recycling initiatives, and solar energy, SBC Waste Solutions was welcomed three years ago to the community.
As the majority owner, Coley continually ensures the business operates conscientiously and puts the environment first. S.B.C. Waste Solutions is currently seeking new ways to reuse recyclables and make the recycling process easier for customers. Half of the company’s fleet of trucks is used solely for picking up recyclables.
“We’re at a point now financially, that we’re actually looking to start developing our own automated recycling facility, which will be automated with robots and other cutting-edge technology,” Flood says. “Then we can start taking all our waste and recycling to our own facility for processing it ourselves, instead of paying someone else for that service.”
Catering to the suburbs around Chicago, the company is keen on maintaining a strong local presence while also exploring innovative solutions in waste management.
SBC Waste Solutions is also a woman-owned business, or WBE. Having at least 51 percent control of this residential waste collection company, Coley was able to earn the WBENC certification, which is awarded after a stringent vetting process.
While she works to maintain a diverse workplace, there is one problem with achieving total job equality in what used to be called the garbage business. Flood points out an issue unique to the business of residential waste collection that’s slowing down this goal.
“You know, for being on a garbage truck, we don’t get a lot of women applying for those jobs, but our office is filled with women,” he says.
SBC Waste Solutions is also a family-run business. In five years of business, it’s still small enough for excellent and personal customer service, but it’s also continuing to grow sufficiently to provide the best possible waste management solutions in addition to sustainable waste disposal for customers.
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