Introducing The Next Generation Of Leaders And Thinkers

Interview: Matt Hollis, Dedicated to Saving the Environment Through Company, Elytus

With brands like Starbucks taking initiative to decrease plastic use, many companies are finally making the transition to more environmentally friendly models; however, change can happen even in our own homes.
Elytus is a company dedicated to helping brands like Whole Foods, Red Robin and Cinemark reduce their waste footprint and increase sustainability. I sat down with President Matt Hollis to get first-hand suggestions on how to do more for the environment.
Headshot Courtesy of Matthew Hollis
How’d you first become interested in saving the environment? What prompted you to establish Elytus?
Matt Hollis: I wish I could say that I was always an environmentalist but unfortunately that’s just not the case. My background is in mechanical engineering and I have always enjoyed efficiency or finding ways to be more efficient. While I was in college I went to work for a waste and recycling hauler. I learned a lot about the industry and over time began to become fascinated at the immense amount of inefficiency in the US which resulted in massive amounts of value found in the waste stream. Today my personal and professional mission is to Waste Nothing. I think that extends to the talent of our people, dollars in our budgets and resources of our environment.
When was Elytus founded?
MH: Elytus was founded in 2007 as a software technology company seeking to service the solid waste industry. We started servicing waste generators directly in 2010.
What is Elytus’ mission statement? Has the company’s mission remained the same since being founded? If not, how has it changed?  

MH: Elytus has always had the motto of “Waste Nothing” – and the goal of wasting less time, money and resources has been the same since we were founded. The core purpose of the company is to streamline waste management programs for chain operators throughout the United States using our proprietary technology platform, WINstream. Today, we support that mission in many ways and also live out our motto through internal practices, like our zero-waste headquarters.

You work with several companies, what exactly does Elytus provide to help those chains ‘waste nothing’?

MH: Elytus has developed our own software technology platform, known as WInStream. Through this platform our clients are able to manage their waste and recycling programs from procurement to payment in all fifty states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Ingesting all of their waste data and connecting it to other key business intelligence such as sales allows our clients to reduce the amount of waste generated. Our platform also helps them streamline manual management processes through automation saving them precious time and talent of their employees. Lastly, the platform connects them with over five thousand service vendors who can bid on their business enabling them to save money through negotiation while also finding savings in a more efficient waste program.

How did these partnerships with various companies begin?

MH: Mostly through relationships. We started with just a few smaller chains and were able to produce significant results. From there we’ve grown organically to our current client base representing just over 10,000 locations throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

What are some statistics on how successful Elytus has been?

MH: Elytus and its unique technology has helped its clients collectively save over 20 million trees, $12 million dollars, and almost 200,000 administrative hours. Other stats vary client to client, but Elytus has been able to help our clients divert as much as 20% of solid waste away from landfills.

Looking ahead, what plans does the company have for the future? Is there hope to partner with more organizations? Maybe go international?

MH: Our goal is to continue to partner with as many chain operators as possible to help them Waste Nothing. We’re already international in that we represent clients in Canada as well as the United States and as our clients push us into new markets we will happily explore them as well. We will continue to get smarter developing our technology and improving our data analytics to create better management best practices for all of our clients as time goes on.

What more can customers do to help contribute to waste reduction?

MH: The biggest thing that we see is a lack of education and training on how to identify opportunities on the front lines for waste reduction. We constantly work with our customers to establish training programs and best practices to help identify areas of improvement for their internal recycling programs.

What can people do in their own homes? What are some simple changes, like eliminating plastic straw use, that can make a difference?

MH: Recycling of course is always top of the list–it’s important to divert items away from landfills and give them new life. Eliminating plastic straws is also a great place to start as single-use plastic is a huge contributor to pollution, but folks at home should think about reducing all types of single use dishware, too, like forks and knives. When possible, it’s essential to try and utilize reusable serving ware. Additionally, it’s important to be conscious of what you’re buying at the grocery store. Shop smart to help reduce food waste, and eat smart by using all of the food that you buy or planning leftover nights. If you can’t eat it all yourself, find a way to donate it or compost it so that food waste doesn’t end up in a landfill.

A large portion of our readers are teens. How big of a role do you believe teens are in the push for a more environmentally friendly world? What more can they do?

MH: We are making huge advances in sustainability, from utilizing renewable energy resources to the creation of new alternatives to disposable goods. To continue this trend, it’s important for teens and young adults to educate themselves so they can be savvy consumers and change-makers. Maybe that means taking a class on sustainability, or volunteering for a cleanup crew. Perhaps when they move into their own spaces, they can adopt their own green lifestyle steps and implement practices like recycling and water conservation. The next generation of consumers will truly lead the way in making positive changes as they continue to challenge mainstream brands to become more sustainable.

Where, in our society, is there the biggest room for improvement in regards to the amount of waste we produce?

MH: Food waste is the largest area of opportunity in the United States. Almost 40% of food produced ends up going to waste. This is a massive drain on energy, water and numerous other resources. Not to mention there is a large number of food insecure people in the United States meaning they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Just think if we could divert that wasted food to those who were food insecure what that would do to our country as a whole.

Any last thoughts?

MH: We’re not going to move the needle overnight. It’s up to all of us to make small steps in the right direction so that future generations can benefit from the groundwork we lay.

Photo via Elytus

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