Chicago’s SBC Waste Solutions Leads the City’s First Solar Corridor
Waste management companies often carry a negative stigma as mere “garbage collectors,” but Karen Coley is determined to change that perception. As the founder and CEO of SBC Waste Solutions, Coley has embarked on an ambitious project, rallying 20 businesses in an industrial corridor in Broadview, on the outskirts of Chicago, to make the switch to solar panels. This initiative not only saves money and energy but also marks a significant step towards sustainability.
The Vision for a Solar Corridor
Coley, recognized for her innovative thinking, noticed the concentration of industries in this small area and realized the potential benefits of these businesses taking control of their own power needs. With environmental consciousness in mind, she approached the mayor with the idea of creating a solar corridor. The result was a groundbreaking initiative that propelled the corridor to become the first solar corridor in Illinois.
Chicago has long been at the forefront of sustainability efforts. In 2014, Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced the Vote Solar Initiative, which has played a crucial role in the city’s economic development while providing residents and businesses with more choices for their energy and sustainability requirements.
SBC Waste Solutions: More Than Just Waste Management
To label SBC Waste Solutions as simply a garbage collection company would be an understatement. Recycling is a key aspect of their operations, with half of the company’s fleet dedicated solely to recycling collection. They actively encourage customers to separate recyclables, and now, with their financial position solidified, they plan to develop their own automated recycling facility, complete with cutting-edge technology and robots. This move will allow them to process waste and recycling internally, eliminating the need to outsource these services.
Looking ahead, SBC Waste Solutions is exploring additional avenues for expansion. They are considering the establishment of a construction and demolition facility, recognizing the demand in the market. Coley’s entrepreneurial drive is fueled not only by financial success but also by a desire to benefit the community at large.
Empowering Women in the Waste Management Industry
SBC Waste Solutions has earned recognition as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE). This certification acknowledges companies that are at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled on a daily basis by one or more women who are American citizens. The WBE designation was made possible through the support of influential women in Chicago who were excited and proud to witness a woman breaking into a traditionally male-dominated industry.
While SBC Waste Solutions boasts a diverse workforce, including many women, Coley remains committed to hiring more women. However, they face a unique challenge specific to the residential waste collection sector— a lack of female applicants for garbage truck driver positions. Nevertheless, Coley’s determination knows no bounds, and she continues to actively pursue her goal of increasing gender diversity within the company.
As the streets of Chicagoland evolve, it may not be long before we see women in overalls emptying trash cans into large trucks, as SBC Waste Solutions inspires change and challenges traditional norms in waste management.
At SBC Waste Solutions, the focus is not just on waste management but also on sustainability, innovation, and community impact. Through initiatives like the solar corridor and plans for an automated recycling facility, Karen Coley and her dedicated team are making their mark on the waste management landscape, leading the way toward a cleaner and greener future.