Trash Needs Love Too
RecycleMatch in-laws save the planet, one trashy hook-up at a time
Forget eHarmony, Match.com or even SeaCaptainDate.com, there's a new match site in town, and this one's saving the environment.
No, brother and sister-in-law Chad and Brooke Farrell haven't launched a dating site aimed at eco-enthusiasts (that's been done) but the Houston-based team have created an online marketplace where trash can meet its match.
RecycleMatch, which TechCrunch dubbed "the eBay or Amazon of waste management," has been working away matching waste to buyers since September 2009, but the site just came out of its beta phase in February.
Although the TechCrunch article got the site some major exposure, Brooke says their core customers — which the business keeps confidential — probably read more Waste & Recycling News than hip tech blogs.
"What's sexy to one industry isn't always sexy to another," she says.
Still, it's one more sign that the site is taking off. Working with a number of Fortune 500 companies, RecycleMatch's marketplace means that enormous quantities of waste can avert the landfill and instead go to recycling companies or manufacturers in need of what another company may consider garbage.
"The two biggest types of materials we work with are textiles and plastics," Chad says. "But chemicals are growing. The sellers post what they have to offer and leave it to the buyers what they want to use it for."
If it sounds simple, it's because it is. When people first began posting chemical waste on the site, Chad says they were trying to give it away for free to avoid sending it to a landfill. But people started bidding, because one company's trash is truly another company's treasure.
"It's a place for these companies to meet," Chad says. "That's what we're trying to do."
The in-laws (Brooke is married to Chad's brother) merged their respective backgrounds in marketing/branding and business-to-business marketplaces to apply their expertise to an industry neither ever expected to be in.
"Fifteen or 20 years ago I was graduating college, it was before the Internet, and I couldn't have imagined I'd be in the trash business!" Brooke says. But it appears to be a good business to be in; the need and the opportunity for growth are enormous.
"Companies spend $22 billion a year to put stuff in the ground," Chad says. Even if sellers have to give away their material on the site rather than sell it, they pay $5 per ton to avert the landfills rather than the average $45 per-ton cost to send it there.
For now, Brooke and Chad are working on fine-tuning the site. The bigger, badder non-beta version includes features like live bidding, instant messaging capabilities between buyer and seller, advanced filtering and custom e-mail alerts when something of interest gets posted. RecycleMatch will even set up an Escrow account for free to protect its buyers and sellers, who Chad says don't seem to trust each other much.
The actual exchange of materials happens offline and out of RecycleMatch's jurisdiction, and so far, four million pounds of material have dodged the landfill through the site.
The site itself generates income with a pay-per-performance model. It's free to list materials and free to browse, but the site takes a small commission when materials are sold through its marketplace.
"The impact that we could have on the environment is tremendous," Chad says.
Tremendous environmental impact and a successful business? That's what we call getting Green.