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Alumni Series: Emily Freeman

Emily Freeman, Sustainability Consultant, Waste Management, Inc.


Emily Freeman: My name is Emily Freeman and I am a graduate of the School of Sustainability at Arizona State, and I am now working with Waste Management as a sustainability consultant.

I am currently a sustainability consultant with Waste Management Sustainability Services Group. We have been starting to work with different customers, and we help them realize solutions to their waste diversion goals. They’ll come in and ask us, “How can I reduce the amount of material I’m sending to a landfill by 15, by 50 percent?”

Everything that we’re using has an end of life, and in the past everything has just gone into the landfill. When it goes to a landfill any sort of end of use and end of life value is not going back to the environment. Trash and waste is a global problem. It is everywhere, and people are always throwing out stuff, so you have to think kind of on a larger global perspective how are all of our—on a municipal level, on a global level, how are our actions affecting the world. We are trying to develop solutions to help mitigate problems with waste water. We’re doing the methane capture. We’re converting that energy from the waste into new solutions.

Well, I started off getting my Master’s at the School of Sustainability here at ASU, and the teachers that I met there and the different programs that we have, such as the Wrigley Lecture Series, they come in, they bring in leading professionals and CEOs for students to come in, sit down and talk with on a personal level. But you can also use that kind of as a networking opportunity to talk with different people and learn perspectives in energy, in waste and in water. Those are big areas of concern for the environment.

Sustainability is all about opportunities, and having those opportunities and that set of knowledge is an amazing asset that you can bring to any company. This is the direction that people are going. If you can kind of think outside of the box and think outside of those previous kind of set solutions you’re going to come up and have just an amazing value add that you can bring to these companies.

I love this because I get to help people find their solutions. They want to make a change, but not everyone knows how to do it. I love working with people and saying, “You know what? This is something that you can actually do.”

If we don’t think about sustainability then we’re not going to be moving forward, and Waste Management understands that principle. They are using the ideas of sustainability to kind of move forward and change their business strategy. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come work for Waste Management.

Going to the School of Sustainability is really to kind of open your mind to different issues that are going on and understanding what we’re doing as a global community. I really feel that the School of Sustainability kind of lets people open their minds to those opportunities.

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