How Cutting Trash Can Transform Our Cities with WasteZero’s John Campbell

WasteZero provides the expertise, supplies, support services and financing to ensure that waste-reduction programs are successful.

John Campbell is an entrepreneur with a track record of success who has now turned himself toward the goal of building the world’s preeminent waste reduction company. Partnering with his friend Mark Dancy, Campbell has been engaged with WasteZero as an investor and board member since 2006, and he began spending the majority of his time with the business in 2011. Prior to his investment as a major shareholder in WasteZero and his appointment as Chairman of the Board, John Campbell was the co-founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Campbell Alliance, a leading specialized management consulting firm. Campbell Alliance was sold in 2011 to inVentiv Health and Thomas H. Lee Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm. Campbell also founded the Pharmaceutical Institute, a provider of educational and information resources to companies in the pharmaceutical and biotech sector. Before that, Campbell was vice president of a U.S. subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline, where he provided leadership primarily within the Business Planning function for more than six years. On special assignment, he co-founded HealthMatics, developers of an electronic health record used by thousands of physicians. The enterprise was subsequently acquired by Allscripts. He began his professional career with Lawrence Investing Company, a New York-based investment firm. In 2006, Campbell was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. John Campbell earned an M.B.A. from the College of William & Mary and received his B.B.A. summa cum laude from Pace University. How did you first get involved in the green industry? I started out as a businessperson who was also an environmentalist, but a few years ago I had an unusual opportunity to combine my experience in business with my environmental work. I began investing in WasteZero, a company started by my dear friend, Mark Dancy, that uses the power of financial incentives to cut trash in half in our partner cities. What interests you most about being green? I am particularly interested in green initiatives that make a significant immediate impact while also being sustainable over the long term. What is your biggest “green” pet peeve? Green initiatives that pretend to deliver real impact but are actually just window dressing designed to meet short-term publicity goals frustrate me. For example, in the solid waste world, people often try to game the system by reporting inflated waste diversion figures that count things like discarded cars as recycling. A situation like that, which looks like progress but actually isn’t, lulls people into thinking there’s not still a great amount of work to be done. What green trend is most exciting to you or your industry? The fact that people are increasingly looking at the impact of a given green initiative, regardless of how it achieves its goals, has been good for the waste reduction movement. On the surface, garbage may not be as “sexy” as some other fields, such as wind power and solar energy, but to date, nothing has been proven to be nearly as effective as cutting the trash in half for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving energy.