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Haul of Fame: Lakeshore Recycling Systems Educational

Welcome to Haul of Fame, a weekly series from Rubicon where we sit down with a freight forwarder to talk about their company, community, and working with Rubicon on our mission to eliminate waste.

As our nation continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the men and women in companies like this are at the forefront, continuing their daily journeys, keeping our communities safe and clean. Your work is at the heart of protecting public health, and we thank you more than ever for doing this vital service to our society.

Lakeshore recycling systems Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the company provides garbage and recycling services in northern Illinois and the greater Chicago area of ​​southern Wisconsin, with a focus on Madison, Janesville and Milwaukee, and with an ongoing expansion into Iowa. With a fleet of 450 refuse and recycling vehicles and seven material recovery facilities (MRFs), Lakeshore Recycling Systems is a first generation company that has been working with Rubicon since 2015.

Joshua Connell, co-founder of Lakeshore Recycling Systems, sat down with Rubicon to discuss his company and his mission for the Haul of Fame.

How does Rubicon’s mission to end waste disposal fit with the Lakeshore Recycling Systems corporate mission?

Lakeshore Recycling Systems: Lakeshore was founded on a mission of sustainability, much like Rubicon. We want to change the way waste is treated, from the moment it is disposed of at the curb to the moment it is sent to one of our seven material recovery facilities (MRFs).

Our customers expect us to offer them a sustainable end market for all of their waste. It is our job, like Rubicon’s, to find these end markets in order to create a truly circular solution.

How does Lakeshore Recycling Systems differ from the competition?

Lakeshore Recycling Systems: Our niche in the market is focused on our creativity to manage waste more sustainably and our growth is focused on our sustainability mission and the infrastructure we are building on it.

Before we got there, the greater Chicago area and much of this part of the Midwest did not have a large recycling infrastructure. There is more land out here, which leads to more landfills and a drop in landfill prices compared to the east and west coasts. We have expanded this urgently needed recycling infrastructure, especially in the form of MRFs, in order to create viable economic sales for these materials. We have invested in new technology and sorting equipment for these mixed materials so that we can properly separate and recycle them.

As another example, we currently have six construction and demolition (C&D) recycling facilities. Before these plants were built, the vast majority of C&D waste in this part of the country was sent directly to landfill. Now we can recycle and reuse large amounts of C&D waste, including waste wood (we are one of the largest mulch manufacturers in the region), concrete, bricks, aggregates, clapboards and even old carpets.

What is Lakeshore Recycling Systems’ view of participating in the circular economy and building a more sustainable future?

Lakeshore Recycling Systems: At Lakeshore we believe strongly in the circular economy, but we firmly believe that you need to combine proper recycling and collection habits with the necessary infrastructure (including appropriate end markets for recycled materials) for this to work.

We focus on the three R’s of recycling: reduce, reuse, recycle. We work with a variety of companies who can help us find end markets for these materials, and we sit on citizen boards to educate citizens and businesses alike about recycling education.

What do you love most about the community you work in and the customers you serve?

Lakeshore Recycling Systems: We are a Chicago based company with roots in Chicago and the greater Chicago area. Our community is hardworking and works in thoughts and actions when it comes to questions of recycling and sustainability.

If we venture into South Wisconsin and take a closer look at Madison, Janesville, and Milwaukee, we see another community in line with our mission about sustainability and the importance of proactive recycling and recycling education.

Where does Lakeshore Recycling Systems see itself in five years?

Lakeshore Recycling Systems: We are always looking to the future to expand our regional footprint as a company and build the same model we achieved in the Chicago market by working with more community and industrial customers who share the same sustainability mission.

Lakeshore Recycling Systems has been a nuisance from the start and we will continue to be a nuisance for the next five years, just with a larger footprint.


Chris Watts is Sr. Director, Innovation and Hauler Relations at Rubicon. Be sure to follow us to stay one step ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitteror contact us today.

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