Advanced Drainage Systems Recognized for Product and Environmental Sustainability Leadership at Columbus Metropolitan Club Forum
Jun 02, 2021
There is both a business case and an ethical imperative for corporate recycling initiatives, Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc President and CEO Scott Barbour told a community forum in Columbus in May. But he also noted that reaching a more sustainable future is going to require investment in recycling infrastructure.
Barbour, who appeared with Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) Executive Director Ty Marsh and Hilliard City Manager Michelle Crandall, spoke as part of a Columbus Metropolitan Club panel focused on progress toward sustainable practices at the government, community and corporate levels.
Hilliard-based ADS is a publicly traded, $8 billion corporation that manufactures thermoplastic pipe and other products used to capture, convey, store and treat stormwater. It is the largest consumer of recycled high-density polyethylene plastic and the second largest recycler of plastics overall in the United States.
“We’ve been recycling at scale for 15 years and have grown our efforts at a double-digit clip,” Barbour said, noting that recycled plastics make up more than half the content of many of the company’s thermoplastic pipes. While the company’s “reason is water,” Barbour said that “recycling is also economically advantageous and helps the company manage input costs.”
He said the company’s prominence on product value and ADS’s increasing emphasis on sustainability positions it at the perfect intersection of economics and doing what is right.
The catalyst for the event was the release of SWACO’s 2020 Impact Report. Marsh and Crandall highlighted current and future sustainability initiatives, including efforts to attract new companies using innovative approaches to sustainability. All three panelists noted the need for more effective education, better incentives and a more robust recycling infrastructure.
ADS’s use of recycled detergent bottles, shampoo bottles and other single use plastics has led to a partnership with SWACO, through which those items are diverted from central Ohio’s public landfill to ADS recycling centers.
“We’re probably buying 20 million pounds of plastics state and region-wide,” Barbour said, “but we could be purchasing 30 or 40 million pounds pretty easily if the state had better infrastructure for collecting, separating and selling single use plastics. Better public policies and means for recycling is needed,” he said.
Overall, the company already diverts 550 million pounds of plastic from landfills every year.
The Columbus Metropolitan Club, which held the event both in person and as a live stream, is one of the foremost public forums in Ohio. Wednesday’s entire presentation is available on the club’s YouTube channel.
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