Michele Grossman - Sustainability Services Principal at Waste Management

Michele Grossman - Sustainability Services Principal at Waste Management

Michele is a Managing Principal of Sustainability Services at Waste Management and has 20 years of experience in the environmental field helping customers obtain their sustainability objectives, concentrating on the triple bottom line while ensuring brand and quality is not compromised. Since joining Waste Management in 2009, she has supported a diverse portfolio of projects, sharing best practices among Fortune 500 customers. Her current areas of focus are CSR reporting, sustainable sports and circular economy.

Michele leads enterprise-wide data collection for WM’s greenhouse gas reporting and third-party verification; CDP reporting on climate change, water and supply chain (Climate A List status!); and is currently developing science-based goals. She enjoys working with customers on waste diversion strategies that move beyond zero waste to refocus on the environmental benefits.

Michele Joins Sustainable Nation to Discuss:

  • Importance of waste management and reduction in an organization's greenhouse gas emissions targets.

  • Achieving zero waste at large events such as the Phoenix Open.

  • Evolving sustainability goals.

  • Advice and recommendations for sustainability leaders.

Michele's Final Five Question Responses:

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

I would suggest be flexible. Be open and flexible about where you fit into an organization as a sustainability professional. Every single business can benefit from your work, but if you're rigid about a hierarchy or where you fit in, you might find it challenging. Not every company has a chief sustainability officer. I know people with a title that is something like sustainability directors that are in HR, Operations, Marketing, government affairs etc.. I think the important thing is to build networks across the organization because you're going to need all of them to get the work done; procurement, government affairs, HR, marketing and sales. You're going to need everyone in order to get the sustainability work done, but being open and flexible about defining that I think is important.

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

I am really grateful and thankful that we are able to do work that has meaning to us and to be able to quantify the benefits from a climate change and greenhouse gas reduction perspective.

What is one book you would recommend sustainability leaders read?

I recently finished The Sixth Extinction: An unnatural history by Elizabeth Colbert, which might be a strange one to suggest. It's so wonderfully written and although it has this daunting title, she makes you take a step back and consider all the times in the history of the planet that diversity has suddenly, geologically speaking, contracted. And then take a look at human beings as a species and how we're in the middle of another major extinction. So, while it's not exactly uplifting, as a scientist, I found it kind of refreshing to just look at the actual concept of species extinction, without her really offering a way out of the mess but just saying this is where we are in time.

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

I turn often to the Greenhouse Gas Institute's website, especially for tools and guidelines that are internationally recognized and useful. We do that internally for Waste Management. We also use it for our customers, so they're super transparent. I turn to GreenBiz often. Their website and their blogs are great for inspiration and learning. I'm also always looking at different waste reduction models.

Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work that you're leading at Waste Management?

I seem to be less and less on social media, but my twitter handle is @precautionaryp. I'm also on Linkedin. Our sustainability report will be posted at www.wm.com when it comes out in a couple of months. And my email, if you want to contact me is mgrossm1@wm.com.