Often, recycling services focus on handling the day-to-day stream. CheckSammy entered the scene in 2018 looking to bring more flexibility to the space, and is now helping large event venues divert waste.
CheckSammy, a waste diversion and recycling coordination service, handles both longer-term contracts, such as with offices, and single events or pick-ups, coordinating with local networks to move material. Cameron Funk, the company’s chief sustainability officer, said CheckSammy is equally comfortable “if you use us one time to pick up 1,000 things or 1,000 times to pick up a few things.”
“It’s an extremely dynamic problem with a very undynamic industry, and you need to be flexible,” he said. “You have to be able to pivot and lean on additional resources to get this done.”
Funk said the company got involved with venues and similar facilities because as they met people working in venue spaces, “It kind of dawned on us that there’s lots you’re talking about: events, golf tournaments, fairs, music festivals.”
He said it was easy to adapt to working events and the biggest difference is the volume and timeline. In an office building, CheckSammy usually collects a small amount of material on a set schedule. An event means handling a large amount of material in a day or weekend.
Collaborating with clients
Using a nationwide network, Funk said Texas-headquartered CheckSammy prioritizes local and regional solutions for clients. When working in larger arenas and venues, Funk said his team works with the facility management companies. “[The] best part about that,” he said, “is working in tandem, we can kick up all of our reporting to the facility when it’s all said and done.
Providing clients with data about how much and what CheckSammy diverted is one more benefit the company can offer, Funk said, especially as more and more businesses pursue sustainability goals.
“I mean look at my title: sustainability officer. If you go back seven or 10 years, there were only a handful of people with that title,” he said. “ESG is a lot more present now than it ever has been.”
Funk said although the company’s bread and butter is working with businesses of all sizes, event management is also becoming more popular as people become aware of the long-term effects of landfilling materials.
“People are starting to get keen to the fact that there are ripple effects of this stuff,” Funk said, adding that “anywhere from a charity group that’s doing a picnic in a park to a major concert event, they all want to do this.”
The U.S.recycling market is fragmented but in the midst of an overhaul that was sparked by China’s National Sword in 2018, Funk said.
“It’s always darkest before the dawn, and I think that was a big eye opener for a lot of people in the industry to see that we have the chance to own this a little better as a country and society, to retool it more what we need it to be,” he said.
Technology innovations are a massive part of that change, Funk added, especially as they help bring the cost of recycling some materials down closer to that of landfilling them
“The tech innovations in the industry over the last five years have been bigger than the 100 before that added together,” he said. “I think the next five years are going to be mind blowing.”
A version of this story appeared in Resource Recycling on July 24.