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Looking Back and Looking Forward – Keefe Harrison, CEO

Did you catch Cody Marshall on the evening news? He was in Lynn, Massachusetts, helping the city with a cart tagging exercise when Boston station WBZ TV caught up with them. Cart tagging is our proven approach to help communities reduce their contamination levels and we were happy to have the media covering this important work. WBZ wasn’t the only one there. If you’re a public radio fan, keep an ear open for the upcoming PRI, The World session on recycling – they too joined Cody in the field to capture a story on how The Recycling Partnership is transforming recycling for good.

It’s been a pretty busy couple of weeks. While Cody was chatting with people in Lynn, I was in Chicago at The Economist’s Sustainability Event, discussing how The Partnership was built to be an action agent, allowing corporate competitors to collaborate for the protection of our planet. Also last week, Coca-Cola made an announcement of their million-dollar contribution to our work to support recycling in coastal communities, while Dylan de ThomasBeth Schmitt and Kata Bates were in Vancouver, connecting with companies and speaking to press as part of Sustainable Brands 18. Keurig Green Mountain kindly hosted a dinner so that our team could lead a facilitated discussion about how companies can use recycling to meet their sustainability goals. At the same time, we were thrilled that HEINEKEN highlighted us in honor of Global Environment Day, and on World Oceans Day P&G included us as part of their broad approach to address marine debris.

Yes, things are hopping and I couldn’t be happier. But it hasn’t always been like this. Yesterday I took a minute to call Liz Bedard and reminisce on how it was just four years ago that she, Karen Bandhauer and I met in Denver for a multi-day planning event. (Has it only been four years? It seems like so much more time – and yet it’s gone by in a flash!) The three of us made up the entire, newly hired staff at that time and The Partnership model had just launched, with just a fraction of the funders we have now. Essentially the three of us met to say, “OK, we got this thing started…now what do we do?” Our hindsight-goggles tell us that the plan we built worked! Is this what we thought would happen? Yes, and more.

Well, okay, maybe there have been a few surprises. Like this one – this week we say goodbye to Jason Hale, our VP of Communications. Next week he’s moving to Bali to take on marine debris and while we’ll miss his energy, his smarts, and his can-do approach, we’re even more thrilled to know that the fight against marine debris is picking up an excellent champion. Jason, we can’t wait to see all the positive change you’ll continue to make for this world!

It’s when things are at their busiest that it can be difficult to pause and reflect on progress – and make sure you know that your eye is on the prize to keep those positive impacts coming. But as I write this blog from 30,000 feet, headed to a planning meeting with our Community Engagement Team, I’m thrilled with both where we’ve come from, and where we’re going. There’s still a lot of work to do, but I know that The Recycling Partnership has a passionate, committed team (have you seen our fun, new staff video?) who is dedicated to making positive change and news.