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Who is Eric Lombardi?

March 28, 2018 Who is Eric Lombardi?

You may have heard that our keynote speaker for the Recycling & Zero Waste Working Forum is none other than Eric Lombardi, Senior Advisor to Eco-Cycle Solutions and CEO of Zero Waste Strategies Inc., but just who is this guy?

Some would call Lombardi the “grandfather of Zero Waste” in North America (no offense meant, of course). Grandfather or no, for over 30 years, he has been at the forefront of the Zero Waste movement, and is a recognized authority on developing comprehensive community resource recovery programs.

Lombardi holds a Masters Degree in Technology and Human Affairs from Washington University in St. Louis. In 1989 he joined the non-profit recycler Eco-Cycle in Boulder, Colorado. Lombardi was Executive Director of Eco-Cycle for 24 years, and under his tenure it grew to become one of the largest Zero Waste social enterprises in the world.

Eco-Cycle is a non-profit social enterprise (just like Raven Recycling here in Whitehorse). This means that they use business strategies and principles to meet a social or environmental mission, putting all profits back into community recycling initiatives, education and building Zero Waste communities. They now have 80 employees and recycle 50,000 tons/year of diverse resources.

On top of his on-the-ground experience in the recycling industry, Lombardi is also an experienced public speaker, policy advocate and strategic community planner.

 

 

Since 2014, Lombardi has been a Strategic Advisor to Eco-Cycle Solutions, a web portal that is a one-stop shop for all things Zero Waste. It is primarily a networking and technical support platform for anyone working towards a Zero Waste future in their community. One of their more important tools is a Community Zero Waste Road Map. This high level overview outlines the steps to take when seriously pursuing a Zero Waste goal. It highlights key infrastructure, policies, and programs that have been proven to work in other communities.

As CEO of the consulting company Zero Waste Strategies Inc., Lombardi is “bringing together the local resources covering all aspects of strategic visioning and planning for government, business and community advocates to move beyond recycling and into the Zero Waste economy.”

His list of other accolades is extensive. In 1998 he was invited to the Clinton White House as one of the Top 100 USA recyclers. He helped co-found the Zero Waste International Alliance, the GrassRoots Recycling Network and the US Non-Profit Recyclers Council. He also served on the board of the National Recycling Coalition.

Praise for Eric Lombardi

 

Lombardi’s body of work is exemplified in Boulder, Colorado. With the support of Eco-Cycle, city government and community partners, they have taken great steps to achieve Zero Waste goals. In 2015 they passed a Universal Zero Waste Ordinance to expand recycling and composting for all residents.  Lombardi hopes to “continue supporting a global community-of-practice that is working to bring an end to the age of landfilling and incineration.” He wants to keep transforming the “waste management” industry into the “resource management” industry.

Those who have worked with or hosted Eric Lombardi as a speaker have not been disappointed.

“My team came away from the meeting with Mr. Lombardi energized about the many good ideas and information that he provided. He is thinking two steps ahead of us,” said Shaun McGrath of the US EPA.

“Eric’s in-depth knowledge, and ability to effectively frame a conversation on Zero Waste, as well as the broader topic of sustainability, are truly remarkable. Every semester my students talk about Eric being their favorite speaker,” said Jeff York, Assistant Professor at the Leeds School of Business.

Lombardi’s real-world experience and continued involvement in Zero Waste systems provides a broad understanding of all the challenges and issues associated with creating Zero Waste communities.

“Eco-Cycle’s credibility as Zero Waste experts is based on the fact that they have actually developed and continue to manage the various infrastructure and facilities necessary for a Zero Waste system. Because of this they understand the full spectrum of related and interconnected issues from public policy to community buy-in to service and facility management. We feel very confident in Eco-Cycle’s expertise and are most fortunate to have them as advisors on our project,” said Christine Funk, Director of Zero Waste Programs for WasteCap Nebraska.

Zero Waste Yukon is thrilled to experience first-hand this expertise and in-depth understanding of bringing communities to Zero Waste.

 

A special opportunity for Yukon

 

Yukon does not have a territory-wide waste management system, and this causes problems. For example, the mayor of Mayo recently spoke out about the growing costs of managing their landfill taking away from other things in the community. The mayor of Whitehorse also spoke out at a recent council meeting saying the territory needs to do its part and implement a territorial waste management plan. In a bit of good news, the city council voted Monday to expand the city’s compost program to food service businesses and multi-unit residential buildings.

The current linear economy is a one-way street, from the earth to the dump (Image from Eco-Cycle Solutions).

 

We’re thrilled to have Eric Lombardi here to join the conversation about the challenges facing Yukon. He will provide knowledgeable insight into how we can work together to take the needed steps to reach Zero Waste. This means creating effective and harmonized systems for resource management, but  also tackling the upstream problem of product design.

“Waste is actually the product of bad design, and bad design can be changed,” says Lombardi.

“Producer responsibility is the real revolution of the 21st century – it’s the other half of the story. When we start making products with the environment in mind, then we can start recovering them for reuse – then we have the cycle, and that whole cycle represents Zero Waste,” says Lombardi.

 

Zero Waste systems are circular, just like in nature, where nothing is wasted. The result is a thriving Zero Waste community (Image from Eco-Cycle Solutions).

 

Eric Lombardi will be the keynote speaker at the Recycling & Zero Waste Forum, providing a keynote address and speaking at our business lunch about how Zero Waste can work for businesses.

Lombardi will also be giving a free public presentation at the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, speaking to the public on how Yukon can reach Zero Waste.

We hope you’ll join us for the forum or public speaking event to get inspired and learn from one of the world’s foremost experts as we break down the future of Yukon resource management and get on track to reach Zero Waste – or darn near!

 

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