Recycle Track Systems can help route waste away from landfills and alert companies when trucks are nearing a pickup point.
by Larissa Zimberoff
On the field, the Mets are trash, struggling to clamber out of fourth place in their division for the third straight year. Off the field, the New York baseball team is making a serious effort to clean up its act, albeit more literally than fans might hope. Citi Field is gradually replacing its food and beverage packaging with compost-friendly versions, putting a wider range of sorted waste bins in the park, and promising to ship close to zero refuse to landfills by 2020. “It’s been a heavy topic going on five, six years,” says Michael Dohnert, the Mets’ senior director of ballpark operations, because waste disposal is a big part of the park’s environmental impact. “There isn’t much of an infrastructure. We knew what we wanted, but the first few years we couldn’t get there.”
The company helping the Mets fill the infrastructure gaps is Recycle Track Systems, a software maker that employs data analysis to cut costs for its corporate clients while helping them get greener. “It’s technology meets recycling and food waste,” says Chief Executive Officer Greg Lettieri. Unlike other companies with a similar sales pitch, RTS doesn’t own any trucks or recycling plants. It focuses on improving its software, given without charge to RTS’s trucking partners, to make trash disposal as efficient as possible. “So far they’ve held up their end of the bargain,” says Dohnert. The company’s 1,400-plus clients also include Bank of America, Google, WeWork, Whole Foods, SoulCycle, and the Statue of Liberty.
RTS software allows customers to select how much and which kinds of waste they need picked up. They then receive alerts when a trash hauler is nearby and has picked up and dropped off their inventory. By adding what’s known as a geofence to its software, RTS also notifies customers via email or text when the trucks are a certain distance from their pickup point, helping to reduce wait times.
Customers can use the RTS app for bulk recycling services.
“This is part of the future,” says Domenic Monopoli, the fourth-generation co-owner of Filco Carting Corp., which is using the system in each of its 40 trucks. “I was extremely skeptical, but when you look at it, it’s leap years ahead of anything else.”
Lettieri previously worked in network security for Bank of America Corp., while his co-founder, Adam Pasquale, comes from a multigeneration family of waste managers. The latter expertise helped them land such businesses as Google, which ships a large portion of its food waste to farms as compost for pig feed, and Whole Foods Market Inc., which has reorganized kitchen bins and retrained staff in an effort to better manage limited on-site storage. RTS helps WeWork donate old chairs, desks, and tables to public and nonprofit offices and has worked with SoulCycle to scrap some 5,000 old spin bikes, retrieved studio by studio. “We wanted reporting back that they were destroyed in a responsible way, whatever the process was that was sustainable,” says Nik Karbelnikoff, SoulCycle’s director of hardware innovation and operations. “It was super important to have that transparency.”
Disposed food waste that was brought to a farm, where it will be turned into compost.
Four years old and with 40 employees, RTS recently raised $25 million in venture funding and says it also expects to take in about $25 million in revenue this year. The co-founders say the company will be profitable by next year.
In theory, hauling companies could cut RTS out of the equation and update their own systems. Rohan Bhasin, director of operations at the Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn, says going the data analysis route isn’t as easy as it sounds. “Trying to gather information on our building and report to upper management was very difficult,” says Bhasin, who had to manually review invoices from the arena’s previous trash hauler to assess the volume of trash vs. recycling. With RTS’s charts and graphs, “we know how many pickups we have, if we need to increase them, and if we’re tight on compactor space. That stuff is really advanced, and it makes it easier to do our jobs.”
BOTTOM LINE – RTS says it expects its 1,400-plus clients to deliver about $25 million in revenue this year in exchange for routing their garbage more efficiently.
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