Scott Breen - Associate Manager Sustainability and Circular Economy Program

Scott Breen - Associate Manager Sustainability and Circular Economy Program

Scott Breen is Associate Manager, Sustainability and Circular Economy Program with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center. In this role, Scott helps to strategize and execute program deliverables including events, resources, trainings, and reports that increase understanding of key circular economy and sustainability issues and showcase how companies are making their operations more sustainable and reflective of circular economy principles.

Scott Breen started his career as an attorney-advisor at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). While at NOAA, Scott helped advise program staff as administrative rules went from public notice to final publication, brought enforcement actions against those that violated fisheries rules and regulations, and determined the legal sufficiency of agency actions such as the issuance of incidental harassment authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Scott Joins Sustainable Nation to Discuss:

  • Recycling and why collaborative efforts to increase it are so important right now

  • Beyond 34: Recycling and Recovery for A New Economy

  • State of the United States recycling markets and the circular economy

  • Advice and recommendations for sustainability leaders

Scott's Final Five Question Responses:

What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?

So one is to generate content. I mentioned my podcast earlier and how it opened some doors for me, but just getting your name out there and some original thoughts, committing to doing something even just once a month, like writing a two paragraph blog post or something. It's something you can point to to show that I'm engaged on this issue, I'm trying to be a thought leader and it means you'll show up in Google and things like that. You won't know what doors will open. So I would encourage people to generate content.

What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability?

So I'm most excited about the emergence of venture capital and entrepreneurs in this space. We're seeing it in so many different areas. So one is oceans. Rob Kaplan, he just left Closed Loop Partners to start Circular Capital, which is going to invest in companies, innovations and projects that prevent marine plastic waste originating in Asia. This is really important that he started this because 60 percent of the plastic leaking into the ocean originates in just five countries - China, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. So he's going to make these strategic investments and we're going to see what interventions can scale and hopefully lead to other investors coming in too. Also in oceans there's the Sustainable Ocean Alliances new Ocean Solutions Accelerator. So Sustainable Ocean Alliance actually started a couple of years ago by a student at Georgetown. The alliance is going to catalyze solutions in a number of ways including this accelerator. The initial cohort of five companies includes a couple, one is a power company which is developing a next generation converter to harness energy from the ocean. And then others like Loliware. I first saw this on Shark Tank. They create seaweed based straws and cups that dissolve in about two months if you throw it away, or you could just eat it. I'm really excited to get my hands on that. Also in venture capital they have culture space, experiencing a digital revolution. Investors raised more money for ag tech startups in 2017 than the previous two years combined. There's the Urban Drinking Water Challenge 2018, where there's like a million dollars there to deploy and invest scalable water solutions for tomorrow's mega cities. And then lastly, Nexgen Cup challenge. Starbucks and Mcdonald's working together, inviting entrepreneurs to develop materials and design so they can replace today's cups. Big deal, because combined Starbucks and McDonald's distribute four percent of the world's 600 billion cups each year, so they can make a real impact.

What is one book you would recommend sustainability leaders read?

You got a lawyer on the show, so I am recommending Getting to Yes, which is more negotiation book than anything really sustainability oriented. It gives you really good negotiation tactics, and so many sustainability professionals, a lot of what we do is working with stakeholders, trying to get people to agree on things and work together. The key with this book is try not to think of things as win or lose. You want to get each person's interest out and then see if there's an option where everyone wins.

What are some of your favorite resources or tools that really help you in the work that you do?

I really like the EPA \Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. It helps you put things in perspective. You can put in this tool a hundred metric tons of CO2 or methane, any greenhouse gas, and then it quickly calculates the equivalent in metrics that people can understand. Think number of homes of electricity use per year, passenger vehicles driven for one year. So it's more helpful to say "22 cars driving for one year were taken off the road from this program," than just, "We avoided a hundred metric tons of CO2." Something we really focus on in our podcasts when we're doing an introduction to the topic we're talking about is, "How can we say this in a different way that people get the context?" You and I were talking earlier about how there's so many freaking numbers out there. It's hard to keep track. Well, if you put it in a way that's more in a context that people can understand, they're more likely to remember it. The other resource is daily newsletters. Corporate ECO Forum has a weekly briefing. Greenbiz has great newsletters and they actually just launched one called Circular Weekly, focused on circular economy. More generally, I can't recommend enough The Weekend Briefing from Kyle Westaway. He has really good social technology articles, so sign up for those.

Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work that you're leading at the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation?

I post articles to my Twitter @Scottybreen. I also post what I'm doing professionally on LinkedIn. The best ways to keep up to date on what's going on at the Corporate Citizenship Center is to sign up for the newsletters. So with the CCC, go to For the podcast