As the old adage says, to some that’s trash . . .but to others, it’s treasure.
Just ask James Ruttan, CEO of iWasteNot Systems, Inc., in Ontario, Canada. He, together with his father and three out of four younger siblings, has built a business centered on the concept of reuse –both residential and commercial.
Started in 2003, iWasteNot Systems is a software-as-a-service company that supplies web-based surplus materials exchanges for organizations throughout North America. By providing software, web-hosting, security, support and training, iWasteNot Systems helps clients create and operate residential, mixed industrial-commercial, agricultural-biomass-forestry, electronics and in-house materials exchanges.
And, what’s more, the company can even track and report on the weight and nature of the materials reused and then calculate the dollar savings and the greenhouse gas emissions avoided through the waste diversion.
As Ruttan explains it, iWasteNot Systems is grounded in “preaching the path,” making the choice to reuse materials as easy, inexpensive and effective as possible. Or, put another way…
“Think of it as a dating service for trash,” he quips.
To see how these exchanges work, take a look at one of the 20 or so listed on iWasteNot System’s Portfolio page.
At the Vermont Business Materials Exchange, for instance, companies with surplus or by-product materials connect with other businesses or individuals who can reuse these materials productively. This particular exchange is sponsored by the Northeast Recycling Council Inc. (NERC) and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and if you explore the site today you’ll find numerous available items, such as oil furnaces, padded stacking chairs, school gym lockers, and cardboard boxes.
“Our family has had an environmental ethic running through it since the 1960s. It has always been important to us, and we started the company because we wanted to best leverage our efforts to enable others,” Ruttan says. “Right now, the problem is so big that everyone needs to pitch in. The way I see it, we provide tools that enable others to make the right call. I think the awareness is out there. What people need is a way to make it happen.”
iWateNot Systems customizes each client’s website using these modular units:
- Online material (waste) exchanges where people can easily list items to give away, trade, locate or repair
- A “Recyclopedia” –an innovative A to Z Reuse and Recycling Guide by type of material (A resource for “what to do with it when you’re done with it,” Ruttan says.)
- Directories for Reuse & Recycling Businesses and Non-profit organizations
- Events Listings for garage sales and recycling events
- Recycling News Section
- Recycling Links
Ruttan says that over the years, a remarkable variety of items has been reused, ranging from bicycles, computers, and office desks to whole houses, an entire hockey rink, and an antique printing press.
“The challenge is to overcome the premise that because it’s not new, it’s not useful,” he concludes. “We’re here to provide the logistical support and to put the focus on reusing locally.”