Bob Powell’s dreams and vision about how we can leave the world a better place are being realized at Brightmark, the company he founded to change the way the world sees and manages its waste. As founder & CEO, Bob looks beyond what we are doing now to create the path for what we will realize many years in the future. Bob is passionate about solving the world’s most complex environmental problems with innovation and optimism. Prior to founding Brightmark in 2016, Bob spent the majority of his career working in the energy industry.
Join us for our first live event, M.A.S.S. Eco Summit! It will be 3 days of keynotes, panels, and workshops! Receive event notifications or contact us to get involved at http://MASSEcoLive.com.
In this episode Marjorie and Bob discuss:
- How Brightmark uses all forms of plastic from every type of waste stream and creates circular renewed products
- How Brightmark turns organic waste into fuel and what responses people have had over the years to this practice
- What is the difference between methane and CO2 and their impact on the environment
- Why banning ALL plastics isn’t yet part of Bob’s overall vision and why
Resources mentioned in today’s episode:
- Ellen MacArthur Foundation https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/
- The World in Data https://ourworldindata.org/
- The Uninhabited Earth by David Wallace-Wells https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/586541/the-uninhabitable-earth-by-david-wallace-wells/
- Website: https://www.brightmark.com/
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bobpowelllinkedin/
- Bob’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bobpowell_/
- Brightmark’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/Brightmark/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brightmarkenergy
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/Brightmark
- Bob’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/bobpowell_
- Brightmark’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/brightmarke
Marjorie Alexander 0:00
This is a sustainable mind, Episode 81. Today we will be speaking with Bob Powell from bright mark. Bright mark is a leader in the field of plastics, renewable technology. And Bob will be sharing with us exactly what plastics renewable is, how it works, and what role it plays in our current waste stream as well as landfill waste reduction for the future. But before we get into that, I want to remind you that we will be hosting our very first live event mass eco live will be taking place this April 30 through May 2, mass eco live will be three days of keynote speakers, panel discussions and workshops. And I am so excited to have you all participate if you are an expert in topics like conservation, sustainable business, food waste, renewable energy, new sustainable technologies, or any other topic in the realm of sustainability. Or if you find these topics super interesting, just like I do, and you want to get a front row seat for these interesting and educational discussions, head on over to mass equal live.com. There you can apply to be a panelist and sign up for event reminders as a participant tickets go on sale in just a few days. So again, head on over to mass equal live.com to get the latest updates. Welcome to a sustainable mind, where we delve into the minds behind today's most impactful environmental campaigns, organizations and startups, inspiring the environmental changemakers up tomorrow. I'm your host, Marjorie Alexander.
Marjorie Alexander 1:37
Bob pal has a dream and a vision to help leave the world a better place. And he is doing so through bright mark, a company that he founded to change the way that the world sees and manages its waste. As founder and CEO, Bob looks beyond what we are doing now to create the path for what we want to realize for many years to come. Bob is passionate about solving the world's complex environmental problems with innovation and optimism. Prior to founding bright mark in 2016, Bob spent the majority of his career working in the energy industry. Bob, welcome to the show.
Bob Powell 2:13
Marjorie, thank you very much. It's great to be here. Let's talk
Marjorie Alexander 2:16
about how nature the environment and sustainability played a role in your childhood growing up, can you tell us a bit about that?
Bob Powell 2:23
sustainability for me actually did start very early in my childhood. And I would say my earliest memories about sustainability in the earth are actually spent in the garden with my grandmother that we used to call re. And so she had this amazing Green Thumb. And you know, you think of things like the tomatoes in the yard and how they tasted coming out of the ground, different types of vegetables, and then what she did after the fact, and she was always very conscious about how she took care of the soil. And she used to tell me stories about if you don't take care of the soil, the soil can become barren. And so that means doing things like fertilizing, etc. Some of the other lessons that she taught me about that were sort of the beginnings of thinking about sustainability, were what types of pesticides you do and do not put on your plants. Because basically, her view was anything that you put on to plants would go into the environment. So I would say for me, my grandmother ri was really the beginning of that. And it's an evolution that I've had over my life and career there were other sort of seminal moments. But for me that was sort of the beginning, in the garden with my grandmother,
Marjorie Alexander 3:38
and in the garden is a fantastic way to get in touch with nature and learn new things about it. I remember when I was first getting into gardening, I actually just had a little window sill planter. And it was so fascinating to watch these plants literally open up to the sun in the morning, track the sun across the sky, and then close up their leaves just slightly at the end of the day. And I had no idea that plants did that. And I have been fascinated with gardening ever since. So thank you so much for sharing that. And I'm sure that that's kind of the entry point. For so many people that are eco conscious. I want to talk a little bit about your early career in energy. Tell us about how you got into the energy sector and what type of work you did.
Bob Powell 4:22
So, for me getting into the energy industry was I have to be honest, a little bit of almost a mistake. So when I got out of graduate school, which worked for a firm called Arthur Andersen and there were all of these really cool industries that I thought would be fun. So part of it was about that the new internet and the.com bubble and those kinds of things. And what happened to me actually was, I didn't really get to work on a lot of those companies. When I when I got out of grad school. My first client was a company that was actually based in North Carolina. That was a natural gas company. So again, company as we used to call it. And that really started me working in the energy industry in what what I found fascinating about the energy industry in the beginning even was, it's actually pretty complicated. But most importantly, if you think of natural gas, you think of electricity, you touch almost every single human being out there with energy. And so that was the beginning of it. And then in terms of what I got to do, when I started, the beginning of my career, I did something really simple was audit blocks, company's financial statements. But what that gave me was a really good understanding of how businesses are funded, and frankly, how businesses can and should be sustainable. Soon after that, I actually started helping companies in the energy industry to grow and grow into new areas, for example, the beginnings of what is now a massive global renewable energy industry. So right at the beginning, at that point in time, I got to see my clients and help them for example, with bringing online new projects, actually acquiring companies that were in the energy industry, there's a really cool time for me. And so that start was really the start to what has now become over a 30 year lifelong career in the energy industry. And then the impacts I saw then getting into being concerned about wastefulness and the environment.
Marjorie Alexander 6:29
So let's talk about wastefulness and the environment, what exactly was kind of the impetus for starting bright mark. And then let's get into some of the waste solutions that you all are implementing at the company.
Bob Powell 6:42
For me, the the sort of, there are a few moments that are really important in coming to the moment when we were fortunate enough to found bright mark. So as a child, being in the garden with my grandmother was a great start, as I started working in the energy industry, I think that the impact on the environment and the energy industry, specifically, one of the first points that I recollect is actually helped a client of mine with the acquisition of a very large energy company, mostly electricity in the Asia Pacific region, and my first real trip going internationally. And as I was in Indonesia, and I remember driving from the airport, to, you know, my fancy Western hotel, and the taxi drivers driving through all of the the sort of side streets there. And I noticed kids route playing the same ages, my son, who is about five or six at the time, and they were playing and the kids in Indonesia, replaying in open sewers. And I thought, wow, that's incredible. And then I also saw on that trip going to the hotel, a lot of garbage that was on the side of the road. And it really got me thinking about, well, gosh, first off, it's a very big world, and the world isn't the same, you know, in industrialized as it is in developing countries. But it really bothered me a lot, because my, my son, Shawn, lived in a really nice environment, yet these kids were being impacted, you know, from the environment they live in. So that sort of started some of the seeds of thinking, there were things in my career later on, that really got me to the point where I became adamant about clean energy. I would also say that as I worked with my energy clients, one of the things I looked at was if they were going to acquire or consider building a plant plants, like coal generation facilities, I started looking at environmental reports and the environmental impact of the ash that comes out of those facilities, and then also the emissions that come out of those facilities. And the tremendous impact on the environment. And the attitude at that point in time was not how do we prevent, but how do we minimize funding of these environmental issues that were being created is a huge disconnect for me. And that was that was a really big part of my art. So how do we do a better job with this?
Marjorie Alexander 9:21
Excellent, excellent. So specifically, with bright mark, I know that there are a lot of plastic renewable technologies that are specific to your company. Can you tell us a bit about that technology and exactly what RNG technology is and how it works.
Bob Powell 9:39
So we have two technologies, as you said, and two are around taking pushes plastics and renewing them our plastic renewable technology, and then the other is taking organic material food and animal waste like manures and creating negative carbon, renewable natural gas that he homes and, and is really a fantastic environmental solution. So those are the, those are the two primary areas that we're focused on now. And we're focused on them, because our mission here is to really change the world by reimagining waste, and elevating really what it means to be truly sustainable. So as we've looked at what we wanted to tackle it bright mark, we wanted to make sure that we were picking areas that we could have a global impact that had really not been tackled, you know, at large globally. So that's how we centered in on those two technologies impact on the world? And could this team help make it happen?
Marjorie Alexander 10:44
And when I think of energy from organics, in my mind, No, I have not an engineer, and I have no idea how this stuff works. So you can certainly inform us. But when I think of organics being converted into energy, I think of composting or like industrial size, composting, and basically the extraction of gases. How exactly does that technology works like, like, take me through the process of, of you get the waste, the food waste, or whatever the organics are comprised of? How does that get converted into something that's useful.
Bob Powell 11:20
So organic waste, which can be and our two most common solutions really relate to food waste, or manures. And so the problem we're solving there is organic waste, even composted waste, when it begins to break down, it creates a tremendous amount of greenhouse gas impact. In fact, the methane that comes from food waste, and from newars, is more contaminating to the environment than even carbon dioxide. So our process is around taking that organic material before it starts to create the large methane emissions. And then we put it into a process that the materials stay roughly three weeks inside of and so what happens there is it's an environment, it's a biological process, that converts over three weeks, the hour breaks down the organic material and allows us instead of the methane emissions, going into the air allows us to capture them. And then as we clean up the the gas, they can actually be put into natural gas pipelines, so we can heat our homes or power vehicles with renewable natural gas. So the environmental impact of putting it through that digestion process, just on the greenhouse gas side alone is to take methane out of the atmosphere and lower the greenhouse gas impact, and is that renewable natural gas combusted? It is but is combusted. So there's much more environmentally friendly, burning natural gas versus allowing methane to go into the air. So there's a huge negative carbon offset. So it's all done with the digestion process. The other part of it as well is sort of going back to the garden is the solid part of that material becomes a very stable, more environmentally friendly fertilizer that can then safely be land applied. And the positive environmental impact of that is reducing nitrogen and phosphorus that gets into, you know, water tables and rivers. And you may have heard things like the algae blooms in Lake Erie, or down in the Gulf of Mexico by the Mississippi, our projects in this area help offset and pull out of the waterways, a lot of that organic material that create algae blooms, and a lot of other environmental issues.
Marjorie Alexander 13:48
Wow, that is very, very cool. I do want to take a step back real quick and touch on something that you said, which was that methane contributes a lot more to greenhouse gases than co2. I believe that I read that. That's because, and again, I'm not a scientist in this realm. So I could definitely be reading this wrong, but something about methane that the particles themselves just being a lot more harmful, not that the methane itself is more in terms of volume. Can you tell us a little bit about the difference, or I guess the difference in impact that methane has versus co2?
Bob Powell 14:28
Sure, so methane relative to co2, methane has a greater environmental impact in that, number one, it absorbs a greater amount of energy, which is part of than co2, which is part of when we talk about greenhouse gases and the impact on climate change and warming. So there's a greater sort of absorbing energy which means it's like putting an extra set of blankets you know, onto Have you when you're sleeping? Well, it's like putting an extra set of blankets on the earth. And so we're going to be warmer as a result. And then also, the methane actually stays in the atmosphere a bit longer than carbon dioxide does, in so there are a lot of different studies, but I've seen ranges of credible studies from around 25 times more contaminating on a, whatever, per molecule, I don't know, limit all the way up to over 100 times more contaminating, again, creating the global warming effect. So there's a huge greater impact. So we can pull that out of the ground and lower the impact on greenhouse gases, it creates a negative carbon impact. So why is negative carbon important here?
Unknown Speaker 15:46
Bob Powell 15:47
I'm so happy that a lot of companies, even large oil and gas majors talk about a net carbon zero future, how do we get to a net zero future unless we have negative carbon solutions? I mean, even solar and wind that I worked in for years, have a very low but a slightly positive carbon impact, you know, because manufacturing, transportation, those kinds of things. So you need some minuses to add to the pluses. So you get to net carbon zero future.
Marjorie Alexander 16:18
Absolutely, absolutely. So I want to get into plastics now. Something that I am have been actually reminded of recently is that there are a lot of plastics that are not recyclable, at least not by traditional means. So when you know, you talk about plastics, renewable technology, number one, is it really true that all plastics can be? Well renewable and recyclable? I suppose are two actually different terms. So maybe we should start there. What's the difference between recycling and renewal for plastics?
Bob Powell 16:53
Yeah, for me. First off, there are folks that have good definitions, and then a lot of Sir, being a bit imprecise. But for me, renewing means creating a new use out of something that otherwise would end up in the environment. Recycling to me, means more around what some people now are calling and we embrace it as well are calling circularity. So meaning Can you take what was used and thrown away and bring it back into use? And so I view that renewing as being more around a circular solution, as opposed to a single line solution where, right now what do we do, so we may have a water bottle that we use, and we have what a two or three minute relationship with that water bottle, and then we throw it away. And it may well not be renewed or recycled, that sort of single line you use, and it ends up in an ocean waterway. So if we're renewing it, we're finding another use for it, like what are processed as are part of our process that could convert those types of plastics, into fuels in paraffin waxes as well. Now recycling is in actually, we want to maximize the recycling or circularity aspect would be to take that same water bottle and have a process where you can actually recreate that exact same water bottle so that we're not throwing away something and then having that guilt associated with where does it go? You know, is it going to end up in the ocean or landfill those types of things? So that's sort of how I think about those differences.
Marjorie Alexander 18:36
And something that you mentioned was actually producing fuel. That is something that bright Mark does. Do you have an example of an MD use case of what that might look like? And also, do you receive any sort of pushback on the fact that you all produce fuel?
Bob Powell 18:53
Yeah, so I can give an example case, and then I'll answer the questions whether we get pushed back here in a second. So the use case for us is, we can actually take and I don't know if our listeners are aware here, but 91% of the plastics in the world are not recycled, right? And what do we produce almost 400 million tons of plastics a year. And 91% of that is going somewhere and not being reused. So what we're able to do is take that, you know, that larger than 91% and create usable products out of it are first very large scale facility, we start a construction April of 2019. And we're very near to completing the construction on that. So in that facility, we can take every single one of the plastics that's created the numbering system one through seven, we can take every one of those and the 91% that are not reused. And then what we do in that facility is we create two different types of fields. Ultra Low sulfur diesel, which is low sulfur, much better environmentally. And then Napa, which is another product A lot of us are not familiar with, and I wasn't before that actually has two uses. One is gasoline for combusting. And then the other is to remake plastics. That is that portion of what we produce can be truly circular or renewed in nature. And then finally, some other products like Canna waxes, maybe at your home, you could have a bright Mark candle that was produced out of our facility there from plastics that would have otherwise gone into the ocean. So you raised a good question, do people push back on part of our products made out of plastics that would be thrown away, that are turned into fuels? We do get pushback from from, you know, different groups of people. And the thought there when people push back is listen, you're producing something that is a carbon based product that's combust, and it creates greenhouse gases. Absolutely true. But what is the alternative here? The alternative here is that people are for the foreseeable driving cars with combustion engines, trucks, boats, etc. Those petroleum products that are combusted come from the ground, crude oil and natural gas, and there are massive methane emissions and environmental issues associated that we can offset because we're not pulling out of the ground. So that's one reason why I think it is a superior way of producing combustible fuels. But that's not the end goal for us here. So when people push back, and they hear that, and a lot of people, it resonates. But then the question we often get, and the one we ask ourselves is, what is the end game here for us? The end game for us is around circularity, what we want is to not create greenhouse gases by any of our products to reuse. You know, frankly, always materials, we're focusing on two different types right now. But in this case, the plastic that goes into the environment, in the oceans all all around us in the impacts we're hearing about now, ultimately, the end game for us is to 100% recreate plastics, we can get to a very high proportion of circular renewed products out of our process. So this is the start of the journey for us. But this part of the journey even while our products coming out of potions, plastics are combusted. It's a much better environmental answer than what we currently have. And we will get better and we will maximize circularity. So that's our in game.
Marjorie Alexander 22:46
And so when you when you talk about circularity, what and what I'm hearing and tell me if I'm wrong here is more about not more about but but has to do partially with taking all of the plastics that you're receiving at the facilities, one of which you mentioned, and making those into new products, and not necessarily, of course, endgame down the line, not having to create new plastics. So all the plastics that are out there are what we have, and we're going to use those up or, you know, to create fuel, or somehow else placed them into this this circularity that you talked about, so that no additional new plastics need to be made? Am I am I kind of reading that correctly?
Bob Powell 23:29
You're reading it correctly. And so producing plastics that would otherwise be thrown away in the environment out of plastics is a much superior answer. And so I think you absolutely have a right.
Marjorie Alexander 23:44
Excellent. And so I suppose the question would be should should plastics be banned completely? And it sounds like right mark is, is looking for solutions to actually bring that to fruition? So I definitely commend you all for the work that you're doing. What are your plans for expanding internationally? Obviously, this technology for you all? I mean, the company in general is relatively new. How are you all thinking of expanding? Are there partnerships that you're looking at or vendors that you're looking at working with?
Bob Powell 24:15
And we absolutely, if our if our mission is to create a world without waste, then we need to have a global impact. And that was part of what I thought was very important as we found it, bright mark. So that doesn't mean that we sit here in the States. And we create some really interesting, very good, environmentally friendly types of projects. But it means we need to go out and beyond. And so what does that mean in terms of where we expect our impact to lead to developed in developing parts of the world. In fact, what I would say is if you look at our recent announcement in Korea, you can see that we're now starting to have footprint to solve these problems, and a part of the world that has the greatest impact on the environment. So plastics for example, the top, I believe it's eight out of 10 rivers that contribute to plastics in the ocean, come from that Asia Pacific region, we need to be there in order to help solve the problem. And what we want to do is make sure that we create a use usable products out of what would otherwise end up in the ocean. So we just need to do it there. You'll see us in the future announced not just as we just announced the South Korea relationship with a great partner there. But also in other parts of the world, Europe is a really interesting location, because I would say environmentally Europe, in terms of their support for environmental solutions, is probably the best in the world. So that area, too, is a really big one for us, as well. So you'll see US, Europe, Asia Pacific, because we if we're going to solve the problem globally, we need to be there globally.
Marjorie Alexander 26:10
Bob Powell 26:11
Bob Powell 26:14
just go back to one thing you said that, that I sort of caught. And when you talk about banning plastics, one of the things I think is important to know is first off it right mark, anything that is really not necessary, that creates waste, we think should be eliminated. They currently plastic products, some are the best solution to some of the some of the products or problems we have worldwide. A really good example of that is in the medical arena. Can you imagine going through COVID, without plastics without IV? Yeah, no personal protective equipment, etc. And then there's other things too great uses cars, burn less gasoline are actually safer with plastics. And so there are many, many really good uses for plastics where the alternatives actually have a greater environmental footprint than plastics. The real question is not do we ban all of them? And I do think we need to eliminate some of them. Absolutely. But those that are really necessary. What are we going to do with those are we going to accept the status quo, are we going to find solutions, like our plastic renewal solution, to take the good uses of plastics, and just find a way to renew them, and keep recycling them to lower the environmental footprint? I think as we do that, and we do that, globally, I think folks are going to feel less guilt. And I feel the guilt as well personally associated with throwing away things and wasting things. So plastic has great uses, let's just figure out a better way to renew them after they have been use.
Marjorie Alexander 27:54
Excellent. And thank you so much for going back to that point. And clarifying I do think that that is really important for people to remember that, you know, if we want to continue living, you know, the lifestyle that we've become accustomed to, it's not about necessarily removing everything, it's about just finding a better way to produce these materials. And like you said, make it more of a of a circularity kind of model, as opposed to just something, you know, being very linear and winding up away. And we all know that away is really a fallacy. So thank you for clarifying that. So Bob, as a company, what are the goals? Looking down the line long term for bright Mark, can you tell us a little bit about what you all are intending for the future.
Bob Powell 28:38
Our goals, if we're going to change the world need to be very aspirational, in so what we've committed is by the end of 2024, to offset 22 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, co2 equivalence, with our renewable natural gas projects, and actually our plastic renewal projects. And then also what we intend to do is pull out of the environment, almost eight and a half million metric tons of plastics, of which almost 2 million of those times will be turned into fully circular products. And so those are really big, audacious goals. But we think that what with this mission that we're on, we need to have a true impact. And I think with respect to the awareness we have now in terms of greenhouse gases, the time is now to help solve these problems, because I do worry that we may hit a tipping point environmentally, that we may not be able to come back from whether it be a tipping point with greenhouse gases and getting the the world's warming to a point where we may not be recoverable and all the the impacts associated with that And then the same thing in the ocean with plastics, right? The study that says by the year 2050, there'll be more if we continue to do it as we do now, there will be more plastics by weight in the ocean than marine life. That's insane. Yeah.
Marjorie Alexander 30:15
That is quite insane. And and Thank you, Bob, for sharing with us the goals and for sharing about bright mark in general and the mission that you all are on to reimagine waste. I think that that is such an important thing, especially since there's so much out there to find solutions for so this has been a really great conversation. And before we get into the seven sustainable questions, I do want to make sure that people know where to find you. And that would be at their website, bright mark.com I'll spell that be ri ght ma rk.com. And, of course, they are available on social media as well on Instagram, and Twitter at bright mark, and on Facebook, bright Mark energy. So let's hop into our seven sustainable questions here. And the first is Do you have one long standing habit that you can share with us that you believe has significantly improved your life,
Bob Powell 31:08
I would say that for me, I'm having the opportunity to while I'm, you know, I've worked to solve a lot of these problems, to actually get some great exercise. And in frankly, a little bit of meditation as part of that has been really life changing for me and, and so the meditation part of it is, helps with the self reflection. And, you know, I just hope through that I become a better version of myself every day, which can be a challenge. But for me, it's been a practice that has been pretty amazing.
Marjorie Alexander 31:43
And do you have a new habit that you're cultivating in your life right now that you'd like to share with us?
Bob Powell 31:48
I do. And it's almost a little embarrassing, because some some folks know about it. But so when I go to our facility in Ashley, if you were to open up my suitcase, you would see that I've actually packed some plastics in my suitcase. So sound like them separately shipping. So I can bring them to the plant. And I shouldn't be embarrassed about it. But there been a couple of times we have this been in the plant is called been 99, where all of us, you know, the team will drop off things from our house to be renewed there at the facility, then one or two times where I've done it and sort of look to see if anyone is looking and I would pull it out of my I would pull it out of my bag and then drop a few things like water bottles, the biggest thing are like the plastic bags that we get now. Because I don't know if you know, like, what in my community where I live, when COVID started, they stopped allowing you to bring in your bags from the home, which was something and so I have all these plastic bags, and I feel almost like a pack rat doing this waiting for my next visit to you know, to drop off and Bin 99 my plastics. So what we hope in the future is that others can do that as well. Right now, it's really only open to us employees, but in the future? Well, we you can imagine we're going to have programs for folks where they can do the same as me if they if they choose to be a plastic packrat to.
Marjorie Alexander 33:11
Very, very nice. So while we're still on the topic of habits, I know that recycling is something that a lot of people are really concerned about, am I doing this right? What are the numbers all mean? You know, do I leave the tops on the water bottles? Do I leave the plastics in the paper or you know, have my mail when I'm putting it into the into the into the paper bin? What is one? One tip that you can give people to think about recycling in such a way that makes sure that possibly more of the items that they're putting in the recycling bin actually do get utilized?
Bob Powell 33:47
I think the one tip for me really goes back to my own journey and self reflection. And that is that stopping and thinking about you know, sort of wasting these things. And so you've got your garbage can and then probably in your community like my you may have one we actually have more bins actually educating yourself as to you know, what, what, what is recycled? Or what are your recyclable bins, and just being self aware around. It just takes a few seconds to really put in those proper events, what's being asked for, and I think that in and of itself would help us all who are trying to solve this waste problem. So if you do that, what that means is someone like ourselves at bright mark, actually are able to more effectively with cleaner waste streams, let's just say just plastics, as opposed to everything mixed together. It makes it much easier for us to actually take and use those in a way that we increase the recycling percentage.
Marjorie Alexander 34:53
Marjorie Alexander 34:54
I have so many questions bubbling up about you know, there seems like Pasadena and I just moved from LA Angeles. So this is top of mind. But Pasadena is one of those cities that they're like, throw everything in the dumpster will sort it at the facility. And you know, then you hear about statistics like, like the 91% of plastics not being properly recycled, or you know, only the one through two, one in two of the one through seven type of plastics actually being able to be recycled. And it just makes people like me, incredibly confused. But like you said, definitely understanding at least for your municipality, your city, whatever, understanding what goes and what Ben doesn't need to be rinsed off, and you know, how does it need to be separated, and just really making sure that it just is separated from things like organics or things that are not recyclable? So that's definitely a good suggestion.
Bob Powell 35:45
Yeah. And I would say one step further. Listen, folks who are listening this podcast really care about this. And so you're part of the village, this movement, we have to help solve these problems. So I would say that if with intention, you want us to solve these problems, you know what you can do it, even if what you do and your nine to five, or whatever your day job is, if you will, how about pick up the phone and call one of your local legislators, or call the Waste Management District, right? educate yourself, and then also tell them is really important. We want to solve these waste issues. So a simple phone call to a congressional office or you know, a local state representative or something like that can go a long way. And then also hold the local sanitation companies to task as well. I mean, one example of that is one that's really frustrating. And so you live in Los Angeles, my current community is in the Bay Area in San Francisco. In my community, we have four different events. Because I'm an insider, I really know that we're not fully recycling all four of those separate bins, we need to call our legislators and our waste management companies to task for what what I call wish cycling. So don't give up and don't just throw up your hands and not put things in Benz make others accountable for doing what they say they're going to do, which is recycling. Or if they don't say that, hey, we need to do this. It's a better answer for us in our environment here.
Marjorie Alexander 37:23
Thank you. Yeah, that's a really good point, as always, always getting in touch with the the people that are making the decisions. We want to help them help us help them help us. So yeah, definitely, definitely picking up the phone, sending letters, you know, using the the contact page at your local municipality website. These are all definitely good suggestions to solving the issues on a grander scale. So I know that there are a ton of people doing amazing work, environmental work, is there anyone else in the realm of plastics, or renewable natural gas that is doing work that you admire other people that are working in your similar space?
Bob Powell 38:06
There are a lot of people helping to solve these problems, you know, I would like to give a shout out to one sort of NGO that I think is been really extremely helpful in helping us define the problem really well. And then also engaging people from industries that some might not actually think as good players here, it's the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. So when we hear terms like circularity and and then we look at some of the legislation in Europe that will also be forthcoming in other areas, I really give them a lot of credit for helping to define the problem. How do we define this question you asked earlier around, recycle versus renew, renew being sort of what we call circularity. Now, I think they've done a tremendous job. And then so with the education defining the problem, but also allowing us to engage really well with people across the ecosystem, I think they deserve a lot of credit for that I'm super excited about what they're doing.
Marjorie Alexander 39:09
That is an excellent mentioned, that is the Ellen MacArthur foundation.org if you want to learn more, and of course, all of the websites and resources mentioned in today's episode will be available in the show notes. So you can always check the description on your device, or head on over to a sustainable mind calm to look at these links that are listed. Do you have an internet resource that you use personally on a regular basis, it can be anything that that you think would be beneficial to share with our listeners.
Bob Powell 39:40
I think one of the best resources that I use is a website that is called a world and data and, you know, so I'm sort of a spreadsheet person and grew up running financial numbers for energy companies, and there's a lot of great data there. So for If you're looking at some of the world's problems, I believe that also has the information regarding the top rivers that impact the the ocean plastics issues. So the ruling data is a really, really good one for me. If you just want to take a look at numbers and impacts, they have really good descriptions around it as well.
Marjorie Alexander 40:21
And do you have one book that you would recommend for sustainable minds out there that are hoping to shift their mindsets to become the change that they want to see in the world?
Bob Powell 40:30
Wow, boy, do I. So shifting a mindset means you need to be a little bit shocked. There's this great book, it's called the uninhabitable Earth, life after warming. And the author's David Wallace wells, with the author talks about is what happens to all of us, as the earth starts to warm things like migration in the disruption, disruption, food supplies, in the absolute disaster, beyond anything we've ever imagined, that will happen if we don't change our behavior. So I would highly suggest that. And then with that, you get sort of the the, if you will, the scare factor. And then you need to turn that scare factor into so what am I going to do about it? I highly suggest
Marjorie Alexander 41:22
that book. Fantastic. Yes, that is a wonderful suggestion. One that is on my personal reading list. Coming up, hopefully later this year, I can get to that one. So one final question. And this may be a little bit self serving for me. But I know that there are so many listeners out there, especially now in COVID times that are perhaps maybe lost their job or or kind of just rethinking what they want to do with their careers. Since you've had such a long career in energy. And now in plastics. Do you have any suggestions for those of us that want to have a positive impact on climate and sustainability? One way that we might be able to kind of get our foot in the door, kind of a first step that you would suggest? Yeah,
Bob Powell 42:10
it's so you're right. During these COVID times, a lot of people have really been impacted in really bad ways beyond even just the the health crisis we have here. And so part of those jobs, I would say, if you're really interested in solving these issues of sustainability and the waste that we create in the world, I really would say educate yourself on what are some of the companies that are helping solve these problems. So the jobs for example, in renewable energy, which I spent a big part of my career in, you know, are there, for example, solar companies that are doing residential installations, if perhaps, you know, construction is part of what what you're doing. But that's an example of look for companies, they're solving sustainable problems, obviously, bright mark as well. We're solving problems as well. So educate and then reach out. And I will tell you that when I talk with people about potentially joining us at bright mark, if everything else is the same, and then somebody clearly lights up about how they love the mission to create a world without waste to reimagine waste, that person is going to win out. Absolutely. So is there anything better than I mean, we know that we all, you know, most all of us need to have jobs, but looking in an area that you're passionate about, and then having the satisfaction of solving a problem. In addition, just purely having a job. To me, that's a real home run. And I and as I said, I'll tell you, if somebody's really excited about what we're up to, and they have all the you know, all the things necessary to perform the job. I'm gonna pick that person, so be passionate about it, and you'll be so much happier in the end as well.
Marjorie Alexander 44:02
Fantastic advice, educate yourself, reach out and be passionate about it. Thank you so much, Bob. This has been an awesome interview. I do want to plug the bright mark one more time here. You can learn more about bright mark at bright market.com. They've got information and resources there about their mission and their vision, as well as their technologies. As Bob mentioned, there are a couple of careers listed on the website if you are in the appropriate locations for those. And of course you can find them on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Just search bright mark and you will land in the right place. Thank you so much, Bob, for joining us today. Do you have any final words or parting pieces of guidance to give sustainable minds out there?
Bob Powell 44:46
I do Marjorie and thanks so much for having me on your podcast here and I would say just in closing, be optimistic and realize that the future is bright mark.
Marjorie Alexander 44:59
I love it. I hope you've enjoyed this week's episode. If you want to learn more about Bob and bright marks plastic renewal technology, head on over to bright mark.com or you can see this link as well as all of the resources mentioned in today's episode at a sustainable mind.com forward slash 081. Thanks so much for listening and we'll catch you next time on a sustainable mind.