Group looks for ways to turn companies' trash into savings

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  Jun 19, 2012   erosa

Danielle Basson goes by many names: Dumpster Diver, Recycling Barbie, Trash Angel and the Nancy Drew of Garbage.

In 2008, she founded Simple ESG, a company with a focus on waste management.

The business audits companies to ensure their current waste is not being, well, wasted.

"Most of the time, your trash capacity is completely backwards," she said. "You always want to see more recycling than you see trash ... so we tweak it and figure how much of your waste stream is actually trash and how much is actually recycling, and we build you a new plan."

The companies are visited in the late-night hours. Simple ESG representatives go through the trash to determine which recyclable items are being thrown out.

Nearly every client is found to be paying too much to waste companies. The team matches companies with the right recycler and can renegotiate rates. Once the audit is done, it follows through with oversight. The changes are done in phases, and as employees get on board, more changes are initiated.

"We baby-sit," Basson said. "We educate people on what it (trash practices) should be and manage the whole process."

Anyone with a commercial trash bill is a potential client. Simple ESG works heavily with commercial property managers. Most of the companies, Simple ESG said, are upside down in their waste to recyclable material.

"Everyone wants to do recycle, but it's not a switch you can throw," Basson said. "Going green is a great concept, and I don't think you'll find one person out there who'll say, 'Oh, no, I don't want to do that.' (But) you have to change a person's habits."

Mariana's Supermarkets is a client. It reported to Simple ESG that its four stores spend $500,000 a year on trash. After a full-scale audit over two weeks, Basson said, "We found they were throwing out an exorbitant amount of food and trash, they baled their cardboard, and that was about it ... by the time we were done, we'd reduced their cost by $200,000 a year, got them donating food to Safe Nest, the Las Vegas Rescue Mission and Three Square. And they are recycling about 50 percent of their waste, which is huge."

They also get a tax deduction for the donations.

Stacy Altergott, regional property manager for Commerce/TNP, said Simple ESG saved the company between 20 and 30 percent on its waste management bill since it signed up about a year ago, "and our recycling (output) has gone though the roof ... I'm a conservative, so I'd say 40 percent, but I bet it's more like 50 or 60 percent ... we recycle so much more."

She said there was no extra effort involved.

The city of Las Vegas is coming on board. It currently recycles about 50 different items and has roughly 150 trash accounts, including community centers, fire stations and parks, said Jeff Dix, utility and recycling coordinator. Its initial audit is expected to be completed by the end of this month.

"We know we're not going to stop producing certain materials throughout all our facilities, whether it's cardboard, blueprints, white paper or other materials that we recycle," Dix said. "So we're trying to bring in the best minds to help us examine what we're doing now, benchmark that and (determine) what we could be doing better."

Simple ESG does not charge an upfront fee. It makes its revenue through managing the waste. The company is working with more than 200 properties.


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Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 387-2949.