Dumpster Diving with Intel Waste & Recycling Manager

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 Meet Taimur Burki and Learn About His Work at Intel

Over the past two decades, Intel's business and its recycling rate have both grown tremendously; in 2018, the American technology manufacturer generated $70.8 billion in revenue, and recycled 90% of its non-hazardous waste, sending just 4% of its hazardous waste to landfill. Taimur Burki, an Intel sustainability leader and global waste program manager, drove that change both as an individual and from an enterprise level. 

Taimur Burki will be speaking at WASTECON® in Phoenix, Arizona, on Thursday, October 24, to talk about his successes, failures, and unique insight into what it takes to transform an organization’s culture to achieve a lasting and sustainable waste management program. We caught up with Taimur to discuss his work at Intel, lessons learned, and dumpster diving!


SWANA: Intel has a goal of zero hazardous waste to landfill by 2020. What progress has Intel made on this journey?

Taimur Burki (TB): In 2018, we sent just 4% of our hazardous waste to landfill – and since 2010, we've kept that number below 5%. But as the rate has fluctuated slightly from year to year, it's a good reminder that it's an ongoing journey. We can't just hit our goal one year and cross it off of our list. We'll continue to look for ways to repurpose our waste and recycle more in partnership with our customers, suppliers, and the community.


What are some of your “lessons learned” from Intel’s experience with sustainability?

TB: That it's important to have both a top-down and bottom-up approach to driving change in this space. It's easy to decide, for example, we'll just remove disposables from our cafés, but without the support of employees, it's not going to be successful as I personally learned in 2013. You've also got to get your hands dirty; you really can't effectively manage a sustainability program from your desk. You need to be diving in dumpsters and walking your site to understand what's really going on.


What do you foresee as the company’s greatest sustainability challenges going forward?

TB: As Intel's technology gets more complex, one of our greatest sustainability challenges will be managing our environmental footprint and at the same time growing the ways we use our technology to help others drive reductions in their own environmental footprints. 


How successful has Intel been in incorporating sustainability into its strategic and everyday business decisions?

TB: From my perspective, we've been quite successful in building a culture that encourages employees to incorporate sustainability into their work. We've also been lucky in that we've had executive support in this respect, it's important to demonstrate the business value of this work.


What insights do you hope WASTECON attendees will take away from your keynote?

TB: That everyone should dive into a dumpster every now and then. All kidding aside, as waste professionals, we think a lot about garbage. My challenge would be for WASTECON attendees to think about how you can help your customers rethink what "waste" actually means. As we've done at Intel, changing our mindset to think about waste in a more holistic way has been one of the most important drivers of our ability to reduce the amount of waste we are sending to landfill.


Taimur BurkiTaimur Burki, Waste and Recycling Manager, Intel

Taimur Burki is an accomplished environmental and sustainability leader recognized for the significant outcomes he has driven across Intel’s global operations in waste management, green buildings, and water conservation. Taimur has influenced Intel to LEED certify more than 17 million square feet of building space, achieve a 90%-plus recycling rate at more than 50 Intel locations, divert more than 95% of Intel’s hazardous waste from landfill, and conserve 60 billion gallons of water globally over the past two decades of his career. He holds a master’s degree in Environmental Impact Assessment from the University of Wales at Aberystwyth, and a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in Biology. Taimur leverages his exceptional knowledge and expertise to drive change across the broader technology industry and beyond.


Make sure you catch Taimur Burki's presentation, as well as many other industry leaders, at WASTECON! Register before July 31 for our Early Bird discount!