Greening the Trash Business with Glad’s Cheryl Hagedorn

November 16, 2011

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to Green is Good, and we’re so honored today to have Cheryl Hagedorn on with us. She’s the Marketing Manager for Glad Products Company, and they are owned by Clorox. Welcome to Green is Good, Cheryl. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Thank you. I’m excited to be here. JOHN SHEGERIAN: We’re excited to have you on. This is a very important subject matter, what you’re doing, all the great work you’re doing in the environment and sustainability. But before we get to that, we get so many people from around the world always e-mailing us once they listen to you. How do I become the next Cheryl Hagedorn? Or how do I get involved with the green revolution, the sustainability evolution? Share a little bit, Cheryl, of your journey and how you became the Marketing Manager at Glad, and what you do as the Marketing Manager at Glad. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah. So, I’m a Bay Area native. I’m living in the Bay Area now, as Glad is based here in Oakland, California. I’m also a mom of two, and so this area of trash and where waste is going is actually something that I don’t just live at work, but I also live in my personal home life as well. I actually graduated from UCLA, and then actually geared into finance before realizing that my dream was to be in marketing. I came over to Clorox and first started working on the Glad trash business about 10 years ago. Then I’ve done a number of rotations within Clorox, and found myself working back on the Glad trash brand a couple of years ago. Most recently, my current assignment, I’m in my current role, which is the Marketing Manager of Glad Green. In this role, I focus on setting a vision and strategy for the green part of our trash business, as well as bringing our Glad brand vision to life. That’s how I kind of arrived here. JOHN SHEGERIAN: What a position. What Mike and I have learned along the way from doing this show for the last two-and-a-half years, is when companies like yours, great, amazing, legacy, iconic brands like Glad and Clorox start doing things in the sustainability and environmental sector, you guys really get to move the needle. That’s what’s so exciting. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah, we’re excited, too. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Talk a little bit about what’s going on. What’s new in your role as the Marketing Manager for Glad? What’s this new unveiling of a new kitchen trash bag that’s made with less plastic? Talk a little bit about that new, exciting launch. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah, absolutely. At Glad, since we’ve been founded, we’ve been really focused on working hard against waste with strong, reliable trash bags. What’s interesting is historically, in this category, when people say, “Tell me what a strong, reliable trash bag is,” people usually associate it means it needs to be thicker, it needs to be thick, which essentially means it needs to be made with more plastic. What we’re really excited about is we’re actually introducing a new, improved Glad trash bag that is actually stronger than what we have in market previously, but made with less plastic. This is great because we’re really starting to challenge the old category paradigm, in saying there’s a smarter way of doing this. We’re really excited because this improvement is great for consumers. You’re getting a stronger bag, so there’s no tradeoff there. We’re actually not charging any price increase with it, so you’re paying the same price you were before, but you’re also going to be making a small step, because it’s made with less plastic, so you’ll be seeing less plastic going to landfill as you use these bags. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is so great. Has that launched already? CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah, it’s already started shipping. We encourage folks to try it. We think you’ll really like it. What we’re really excited about, though, is with the reduction in plastic in each bag, it’s going to add up to a savings of about 6.5 million pounds out of landfill each year, which is the equivalent of 140 million extra trash bags out of landfills on an annual basis. So, we’re really excited because we know it’s a small change, but what we love is that it’s showing that a small change can add up to a big difference when we all come together. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is so true. Talk a little bit about this new, amazing campaign. I love the name, Glad to Waste Less. I know you have a brand new website, www.gladtowasteless.com. Talk about this new campaign that you’ve also kicked off. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah, so we ‘ve just launched this Glad to Waste Less campaign, as you’ve mentioned. It’s a full marketing and advertising effort to really demonstrate and educate consumers on just how small changes can make a difference. We’re going to have an advertising, so TV and online, of course in the digital space. The advertising campaign is going to be set in New York, and we’re really going to be highlighting a visual representation of the reduction of plastic that’s being saved with this product innovation. So, really highlighting to consumers how this new bag is not only stronger, but uses less plastic waste, and then really visualizing for consumers just what that impact has for all of us. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Talk a little bit about that. Part of the sustainability movement and the evolution of the green revolution and the sustainability evolution, as we like to call it, is education. Talk a little bit about how, besides the major media, television and radio and other things, how are you going to educate them to what does responsible waste management really look like? CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah, so we also have this huge consumer education program for consumers and some strong partnership we’re doing with AASHE, which is the Association of Advances for Sustainability Higher Education, which essentially means the sustainability group working with college universities. We’re also working with Keep America Beautiful to really help an effort around events. So, we have this program that we’re really excited about, which is called One Bag. What that is is it’s helping organizations, events, or venues reach this ultimate goal of only sending one bag of trash to the landfill, with the rest of their waste either being recycled or composted. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, One Bag has already kicked off, or it’s going to kick off? CHERYL HAGEDORN: It actually will kick off at the end of this month. We’re going to have a huge launch event with USC. We’re going to be partnering with their university to kind of start building towards this ultimate one bag goal. We’ll be working to create an enviro-rider to help build some infrastructure with the stadium and helping to divert more trash, as well as partnering on games and really focusing on tailgating. What’s really interesting is the amount of waste that actually happens at tailgates that we just don’t think about. Today, none of that trash is being recycled or composted, so we’re really excited to partner up with them to help them kind of take their tailgating one bag, as well as provide consumers who are at the tailgate with tips on how to do so. In addition, we have a whole One Bag Board of Experts, and we’re doing a number of other types of programs, including we’re doing a grant program for youth sports stadiums and youth sports leagues. What we’re doing at USC is meant to inspire others to take that sort of action where it makes sense for them. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Got it. Now, wait a second. I want to go back also to your new kitchen trash bag. Under the amazing, iconic name Glad, is it called something new, so our listeners can know to go look for it? CHERYL HAGEDORN: You know, it’s just called Glad Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags. On the pack they’ll see there will be a little stamp that says, “Stronger with less plastic,” and that’s how they can look out for it. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Perfect. Like we were just talking about, you have this new Glad to Waste Less Campaign, www.gladtowasteless.com, but also you have still the main website, www.glad.com. Mike and I are on that right now, and you’ve got a really wonderful environmental section and a section for students and all sorts of other great things there. So, the event that you’re going to have at USC to kick off One Bag, you’re hoping that other college students and other universities across America get inspired and sort of join what you’re doing, and hopefully this can spread across the country. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah, and we’re actually going to have grants where we’re going to be partnering with 10 college universities across the nation, so really helping them and working through the infrastructure, but yes, we are hoping to inspire college students and college universities throughout the country in addition, and we hope those 10 are just the start. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, besides Glad trash bags, which we’ve all grown up with and we still all use, what are some of the other products that you’re creating and marketing to help us waste less and aid in waste diversion, which is really sort of how the whole new waste stream seems to be trending? CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah. In addition to our regular trash bags, we also have recycling and compostable bags, which many people may not know because these products are more regionally focused. These products are, depending on the municipality, so the area that you live in, and depending on the types of programs that your municipality offers, we have different product solutions to kind of match up. So, recycling bags are clear and blue, and we have them in both the kitchen size as well as the larger outdoor size. Those are made with strong handles, and they help consumers make recycling easier, and also with the strong reliability that you get from Glad, will help you prevent any yucky, messy trash disasters. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Where can we find these composting and recycling bags? Is there a website that aggregates all this information, or are there specific ways to find out how we can get these bags? CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah. There’s a number of ways. You can go to your local store. We also have them available online, so you can go to amazon.com or drugstore.com or even soap.com, and then you can even go to glad.com. We have some Buy Now buttons on our website, and that can take you straight to another e-commerce site to purchase. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, if our listeners are listening today and they want to buy some of your great Glad recycling bags or Glad composting bags, they can go to glad.com and they can buy now. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yep. And then the one other thing I just want to talk about is our compostable bags. We’re actually really excited because just a couple months ago, we actually did a little product improvement on these, so we actually added odor shield technology. We know that one of the key barriers, myself included, because I compost at home, is odors. So, we’re really excited because we now have these small kitchen compostable bags that have our odor shield technology, so it’s a technology that we offered previously just on our regular trash bags, that we’re now bringing over to the compostable line as well. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s so great. Again, the composting bags are also available on glad.com, besides some of the other great websites. Talk a little bit about some of your partnerships because Mike and I have always found that so many great brands are collaborating with other great brands to, as you say, make small improvements but also big changes actually come out of it. Talk about your partnership with AASHE. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah. Well, you know, one thing I’ve learned is you can’t do anything alone, especially when you’re looking to make change. Luckily for us, we have the best partners. AASHE, which the Association for Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education, we’re partnering with them to really assist the fall programs nationwide in implementing efforts. So, as I talked about earlier, we we’re trying to help different college universities and working with their stadiums to go one bag, AASHE is a critical partner in really helping us achieve this. As part of the partnership, we’re going to support their subcommittees that help implement the stadium sustainability efforts. We’re also, as I mentioned earlier, providing a series of grants that can really help put some of these programs into place, so helping them to get closer to reaching that ultimate goal of diverting only one bag of trash to landfill. It’s taking small steps, it’s starting first just by ensuring they’ve got recycling and composting, and just increasing the amount of waste that they’re diverting, and then it also includes just general awareness and education, both in the stadium and in the tailgating area. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Gotcha. Hopefully that, like you said, goes beyond even the 10 universities one day and becomes a real trend across America, getting America’s college youth really into the whole recycling trend. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Absolutely. We really believe that influencing the infrastructure is key because it can have lasting benefit. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Right. Is it easy right now to recycle plastic? Can people drop off plastic anywhere right now, or is that part of what you’re also doing, working on your infrastructure so more people can drop off plastic bags across the United States? CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah. There are places to drop off recycling or even shopping bags, if you want to recycle those. We’re actually really excited because we’re going to be partnering with 1-800-RECYCLING, and we’re coming out with this smartphone app that will tell consumers what can be recycled and where they can go. So, you just punch in your zip code and state what you have, and it tells you where you can actually take something. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, literally you’re going to be giving them a solution right in the palm of their hand on an iPhone app, so they can find a solution close to where they’re at. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yes. If you’re at home and you’re on your computer, you can also reach this app at glad.com as well. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is so exciting. CHERYL HAGEDORN: I know. We’re very excited. One of the things that we learned is that as people are trying to manage their waste, myself included, it can be confusing. You’re not always sure of all the information, and so when we found that to be actually the number one thing consumers were searching for, information on how to manage this smart phone app and the app on our website just made total sense. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Cheryl, how old are your two children? CHERYL HAGEDORN: I have a four-year-old and a one-year-old. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Gotcha. So, as they get a little older, they’re going to realize they’ve got the cool mom in school. You’re doing all the green stuff. CHERYL HAGEDORN: That’s funny. He’s not quite four. He’ll be four on Halloween, but even now, he’ll be like, “Wait, which can do I throw this one away?” We’re trying to teach them that goes in the trash, or this one goes in the compost. So, hopefully it will stick as he gets older. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I’m sure it will. Again, another great partnership, you mentioned at the top of the show and now we’re talking a little bit more about partnerships and collaborations to really make effective change. Talk a little bit about your great partnership with Keep America Beautiful. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah. So, we have had a great longstanding partnership with Keep America Beautiful. In fact, we’ve been partners for over 27 years with both Keep America Beautiful and their Great American Cleanup. We supported them in their efforts to improve communities, whether it’s through litter prevention, waste reduction, or just general beautification efforts. We’ve donated millions of dollars and almost 3 million trash bags each year, so Glad is the official trash bag of the Great American Cleanup. We’re pretty excited. And this year, we’re actually expanding our partnership with them. We really want to step up our partnership, especially around waste reduction and the recycling efforts, and so we’re going to be working with them as they go to more than 150 college campuses around tips on how to waste less, as well as partnering with them on America Recycles Day. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Great. And they also have that other, which sounds just like where you’re moving towards, they also have that amazing college campus recycling program called Recycle Mania. It sounds like your two organizations will be working more and more on that kind of stuff and getting America’s youth to do more recycling, as we try to divert more waste from our landfills. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yes. Absolutely. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s exciting. Let’s now go below the America’s youth with regards to college students. Talk a little bit about what you’re doing with your high school grant program. What does that look like? Because now you’re capturing the students even younger than the college-aged people. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Right. So, as I mentioned earlier, as we’re partnering with college football stadiums and helping them to go one bag, we’re hoping it will inspire others. So, we’re also wanting to kind of help cascade that down, and so we are really committed to supporting efforts of youth sports leagues and stadiums. We’re actually starting a grant program that will award 10 $200,000 grants to help youth stadiums or sports leagues with their waste diversion efforts. We’ll provide the schools with products, sustainability experts that can help provide expert counsel, and really help them to implement those efforts. In order to qualify for a grant, it’s actually an entry. All you have to do is visit gladtowasteless.com and tell us how you will actually take your sports league or sports stadium one bag, and read all of the entries, and you’ll have a chance to win one of the 10 grants. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow, that’s exciting. When does that competition start? CHERYL HAGEDORN: That competition starts next week. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Gotcha. Now that we’re talking about high school students and we’re talking about all the great messaging you’re doing with an app coming out and the high school and college, let’s talk a little bit about what seems to have captivated America’s youth and youth around the world, social media. You’re the Marketing Manager for Glad Products Company. Is social media something, Cheryl, you’re focused more and more on? How does that look? Give us the 20,000-foot view of social media and Glad Products. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah. As everyone knows, the digital space is becoming a much bigger area for marketers in general. As I mentioned earlier, we will be doing online advertising. We actually have a full campaign around the digital space, including social media, so we’re actually increasing our advertising online quite a bit more. We also are going to be doing quite a bit of stuff on Facebook, as well as Twitter. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Are you going to the be the one writing the Tweets, or how does that work? Seriously, it’s always so interesting to know who’s the person behind the Tweets at wonderful, amazing, legacy iconic brands like Glad. CHERYL HAGEDORN: It’s not me. Somebody much smarter than myself will be writing it. In fact, it’s going to be our One Bag Board, which I believe, John, aren’t you on it? JOHN SHEGERIAN: I think probably so. CHERYL HAGEDORN: So, yeah, it will be our One Bag Board. We’ll have a number of different experts who will take turns writing tweets for us. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s so exciting. That’s a nice way to bring in different voices to share the message. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Great. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Another thing, Cheryl. What’s always fascinating, you represent, like I said, really, truly a brand that I want to call a comfort brand because we all grew up with Glad and we all love the Glad brand. Also, you have a sister relationship with your parent company, the Clorox brand, another great, iconic brand. Who’s leading the way? You’re the Marketing Manager for Glad. I’m sure there’s a Marketing Manager or Managers over at Clorox. Who’s leading the way on sustainability? Are you inspiring them? Are they inspiring you? Or are you sort of going down this path together? CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah, we’re really going down this path together. At Clorox, we actually have a whole group which we call the Eco Office. They think about the sustainability efforts across the total Clorox company. Then we actually work hand-in-hand, so as we’re working in Glad on these efforts and they’re working together, we think about how we can inspire each other. For example, especially with Glad, when our area focuses on the waste arena, we’re doing a lot. We’re actually partnered with them to help our Clorox corporate offices reach a 90% diversion rate. So, we’re doing a number of things in our building and our other sites around employee education, as well as just implementing different efforts to help enable us to achieve that. We also partner just in general sustainability efforts around the building. In short, the answer is we kind of partner together because partnering together, you always get the best outcome. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, you sort of inspire each other, share best practices, and what you’re learning out in the field and also with your specific brands, and you sort of cross-pollinate and cross-collateralize that information. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Exactly. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s fascinating. It’s the story behind the story that’s actually so much fun. The role of recycling, Cheryl, has also fallen to big government and little government, so there’s municipalities. You’re working with municipalities, I understand, across the United States. What are those paradigms and programs starting to look like? CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah, so as we talked about earlier, we recognize that helping change, one of the key things is partnering to drive consumer education. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of consumers are interested in doing stuff, but they just don’t know how or what to do because this area can be quite confusing. We’ve worked with a few municipalities recently, and we’re looking to continue to step up those efforts, so I’ll just give you a couple examples. In Seattle, we’ve actually partnered with the city of Seattle to increase their composting compliance with residents. They were looking to increase participation levels, so we partnered with them on a citywide consumer awareness and education campaign. We did things from providing education, providing free sampling. We even did some blogger work, just a ton of stuff to really help reach out to consumers in the space. In addition, we’re also partnering with municipalities who are starting to either pilot or roll out composting programs, so wanting to understand where municipalities are starting to change their regulations and basically looking for consumers to change their behaviors and habits. So, for example, in Princeton, New Jersey, we actually supplied residents when they received their composting pail from their municipality, they also got a box of Glad compostable bags to try to encourage them to try out composting and show that there is an easy way to do it. So, we’re doing a number of things like that. In fact, Portland, Oregon is also about to roll out a composting program, and we’ve included a coupon for compostable bags with the pail, as the city wanted to do that. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Got it. We’re down to the last two minutes or so, and I also wanted to throw a little plug in here because it’s, again, part of my household. Reuse is a great part of recycling and also a great way to keep the environment clean. I know my wife eats every day her lunch out of her Gladware containers, so that’s also part of your sustainability platform, is it not? CHERYL HAGEDORN: It is. We think of Gladware as reusable containers that are great for leftovers or on the go. I use Gladware containers like you wouldn’t believe, especially as a mom of two. In my son’s lunchboxes, I’m always using the little Gladware containers, or if my one-year-old is going on play dates, I’m putting my food in there, or even if I’m going to a potluck or a party. What’s great about Gladware is not only is it reusable, but it’s OK if you take it to a party and you don’t remember to bring it back home. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Any last thoughts with regards to sustainability and what you’re doing at Glad on that front? CHERYL HAGEDORN: Yeah. I mean, I would say that the main thing is that we’ve always been committed to working against waste, and we’re going to continue those efforts. As the leading trash bag manufacturer, we see it as part of our responsibility to think about how we can be always continuing to drive continuous improvement, and we’re just really excited about our new product introduction. I’m just going to make one last plug about our Glad kitchen bags that are stronger, made with less plastic waste. We’re super excited about them, and if there’s anything I could say, it’s just that little changes, small changes, really make a big difference. Just by using those bags on an annual basis, we can save 6.5 million pounds of plastic, which is the equivalent of 140 million extra trash bags out of landfill. I think together that’s a pretty awesome feat we could achieve. I encourage people to try them. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is just so exciting. Just so you know, Cheryl, you have an open door here and the green carpet is out for you to come back on and talk about any other news you have with regards to Glad and all the great brands that you represent. We welcome you back here because, as we’ve all learned, this is process, and I’m sure there’s going to be new news that’s going to be breaking and new things you’re going to be doing in the future, so you’re always welcome back here. For our listeners out there, to learn more about Glad or to buy some of their great bags, you can go to glad.com or their new website, gladtowasteless.com. Cheryl Hagedorn, you are an inspirational sustainability leader, and truly living proof that green is good. CHERYL HAGEDORN: Thank you. I’ve totally enjoyed being here, and I look forward to coming back.