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Innovation Workshop yields lightbulb moments

The first event of its kind for GFL, the Greenlight Innovation Workshop (GIW) gathered employees from across the company footprint to explore innovation and sustainability within the organization.

Award winners L-R: Wendy Fauth, Charlton Clarkson, Ornella Pizzo and Michael Zabaneh.

“Being innovative and continuously advancing the environmentally sustainable solutions that we offer to our customers are important aspects of GFL’s long-term strategy,” said Jennifer Ahluwalia, Vice-President of Environmental Responsibility and Sustainability. “In support of this and staying true to our entrepreneurial culture, we wanted to create an event that not only recognized GFL employees who advance solutions that will make the company more competitive in the industry, but also create opportunities for these employees to advance their own knowledge, skills and networks.”

Along with GFL’s Sustainability Value Initiatives, GIW forms one of two core elements of GFL’s Environmental Innovation Program.

“The Environmental Innovation Program is designed to guide and engage our employees in identifying and seizing opportunities for innovation within their business areas, so that we can continue to provide more comprehensive, sustainable environmental solutions across the communities that we serve,” said Ahluwalia.

Eighteen GFL employees from various locations and business units participated in the inaugural GIW, which took place February 10 and 11 in Toronto, Canada.

A key component of the event was the team challenge that delivered GFL’s first ever Environmental Innovation Award.

“The award recognizes environmental innovation that creates efficiency in GFL’s existing operations or introduces a new solution that aligns with our corporate purpose,” said Aluwahlia. “This purpose is to provide accessible, cost-effective, sustainable solutions so that we can encourage greater environmental responsibility and allow our customers and the communities we serve to be Green For Life.”

Working in small groups, participants were asked to develop workable solutions to four current operational issues facing GFL as a waste industry leader.

The four issue were: How to attract and retain good drivers in the face of increasing competition, how GFL can use mobile technology across customer touchpoints to achieve greater ease of access, quicker adoption of solutions, and cost savings, how GFL can use mobile technology to effectively capture and use data for more efficient operation, and how to optimize the capacity of GFL’s truck fleet.

The challenge aimed to foster healthy competition among co-workers and encourage them to come up with real-world ideas that could be implemented in the future.

Teams were given time to prepare before presenting to a judging panel of four GFL executives: Greg Yorston, Chief Operating Officer, Christian Dover, Area Vice-President, Infrastructure, David Richmond, Area Vice-President, Solid Waste, Eastern Canada, and Craig Orenstein, Vice-President, Corporate Development.

A Q and A session followed each presentation to elaborate on the themes explored.

When all four presentations had been received, the judging panel had the tough task of choosing a winning team.

After much deliberation on the ideas presented, the judges named team three, whose presentation focused on the use of data for more efficient operation, as the victors.

Michael Zabaneh, Ornella Pizzo, Charlton Clarkson and Wendy Fauth claimed GFL’s first Environmental Innovation Award for their thoughts on how GFL can harness mobile technology to successfully capture and use data for more effective operation.

The judges were particularly impressed by the team’s ability to show how implementing the pilot technology could help GFL monitor and report on incoming product purity, with the overall goal of limiting contamination, improving operational efficiency and driving high-quality product diversion. The winning team’s ideas will be further developed in the coming year and funding provided for a pilot project.

Results from the other teams were also very well received, with the judges requesting white papers to explore ideas further.

“The ultimate goal of the event was to come out of the workshop with workable solutions that were created by the participants,” said Ahluwalia. “Not only did we achieve this, but our employees really stepped up and demonstrated their passion for generating original ideas that will help further GFL’s sustainability mission.”

With the first GIW hailed as a great success, GFL plans to hold the event annually.

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