- At Waste Management's annual Sustainability Forum (#SustainForum), Dana Perino, a former Republican White House Press Secretary, and Julie Roginsky, a Democratic party strategist, discussed the future of environmental policy under President Trump.
- Perino explained that every policy — including environmental ones — is determined on the amount of jobs it will create. She noted that policies around "green" technologies will be a priority as long as they create jobs. However if that cannot be promised, such policies will "go to the backburner."
- Perino also noted that greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction efforts will not be ignored by the new administration, however there will be less of a focus on climate due to an increased focus on security. Roginsky suggested that instead of looking to the federal government on this issue, the industry should look to state governments and companies "like Apple" that are focusing on climate protection. "I don't anticipate we are going to do anything in the federal level to [solve] this issue in the next four to eight years, especially with Scott Pruitt," Roginsky said.
Many industry leaders may not agree on the future of federal policy regarding waste management and environmental efforts, however it is clear that such policies are not forgotten under either political party. While Roginsky seemed unenthusiastic about the future of environmental policy under President Trump, both women were excited about the potential for leadership among millennials. Perino cites what the industry has seen across the country; sustainable living "is a lifestyle" for millennials. They have fought for environmental protection rights. A recent survey from Keep America Beautiful showed that millennials are the generation most likely to purchase products from companies with sustainable packaging, while they are also the most likely to be skeptical that waste is being processed properly. If millennials maintain their focus on waste management practices, this industry will likely see the next generation of professionals begin to develop.
Regarding green jobs, Roginsky suggested that the industry "keep an eye" on Silicon Valley. Tech companies are becoming the leading force behind waste diversion efforts, as fleet management softwares and robotic technologies are being implemented more and more across the industry. While this growth in technology is seen as overall positive, Perino warned that automation could backfire on the industry as trucks become driverless in the next 10 to 15 years. ISWA President Antonis Mavropoulos and former Waste Management CIO Puneet Bhasin have both discussed this topic in recent years, however Perino encouraged other execs to start "talking about it now."