While the term sustainability is commonly used in 2019, in 1950, it was sparsely uttered. To understand how Contento Recycling LLC became Central New York’s leader in sustainable development, you must go back to Gerald Contento Sr, and the year 1950. This was the year my grandfather started our family’s vehicle dismantling and scrap metal recycling business. Over the course of the next 70 years, Contento’s and now, Contento Recycling, has evolved into a leader in recycling and environmental work in Central New York. To see how I created a sustainable business enterprise, you must analyze my family’s past. My family’s history provides a roadmap to a more sustainable future.
When I established Contento Recycling LLC in 2017, it was poised to be Central New York’s first ever construction and demolition debris recycling business. I was tasked with the challenge that many sustainability professionals are tasked with and that was to show the community why they should stop taking their construction debris to the landfill, and instead bring it to my recycling center for processing, recycling, and landfill diversion. Over the last several years I applied for state grant funding, spread awareness about my new business, designed and constructed a material recovery facility, outfitted equipment, and trained staff. I now have a facility that accepts about 40 tons of mixed C&D debris per day, and diverts about 20% of that from the landfill.
On a more personal level, I learned a tremendous amount about dealing with change management. I’ve learned a lot about business development, and some keys to success when building a business. I’ve figured out how to help my employees and customers grow. I’ve learned to be more patient and flexible with my business endeavors. I have a much clearer vision of what I want for my business and for myself. I have developed a rousing optimism on the impact that my business, and myself can have on the sustainable development of Central New York. I will be a leader in environmental stewardship and partner with other people and organizations who want to work towards a more sustainable future.