Keynote Speaker - Mr. Ron Gonen

Deputy Commissioner of Sanitation, Recycling & Sustainability for New York City & Founder of RecycleBank

Ron is the Deputy Commissioner of Sanitation, Recycling and Sustainability for New York City. He joined the Bloomberg administration in 2012 with the task of developing and implementing a plan to divert over 30% of New York’s waste stream from landfills by 2017 and over 70% by 2025. He is responsible for New York’s recycling programs which include paper, metal, glass, plastic, organics, textiles, electronics, hazardous waste and related legislation. In 2013, NRDC and Earth Day New York named Ron as the Public Official of the Year in New York City. He is also currently an Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School. In 2012, he was the recipient of the Social Enterprise Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching.

From 2004-2010, Ron was the Co-Founder and CEO of RecycleBank. During his tenure as CEO, the company grew from an idea into a company that serviced over 50 cities and over 1 million households. RecycleBank was recognized with a number of business and environmental awards including the Philadelphia Sustainability Award, The Conference of Mayors – Public/Private Partnership of the Year and as a ‘Technology Pioneer’ by the World Economic Forum.

Ron has been a recipient of a number of environmental and business awards including being recognized as a ‘Champion of the Earth’ by the United Nations Environment Program which is the highest distinction for environmental protection given by the United Nations and recognizes outstanding visionaries and leaders in the fields of policy, science and entrepreneurship and the Medal of Excellence from Columbia University which recognizes alumnus under the age of 45 for excellence in scholarship, public service and professional life. He has been a Catto Fellow at the Aspen Institute, and has an MBA from Columbia Business School.

Mike Biddle

Mike Biddle

MBA Polymers

Winner of the Gothenburg Sustainability Prize in 2012.

Dr. Biddle started MBA over 19 years ago – literally from his garage. He has since grown his company to what is now the world’s leading multi-national company recovering plastics from end-of-life durable goods, such as computers, electronics, business equipment, appliances and automobiles. MBA is headquartered in Richmond, California and has over 300 million pounds per year of processing capacity in the US, Europe and China to turn waste into plastics for use right back into the same types of products from which they came. Some of the largest manufacturers in the world use MBA’s plastics to replace virgin plastics in their new products.

Steve Russell

VP - Plastics Division

“Too Valuable to Waste: Rethinking Used Plastics”

Steven Russell joined the American Chemistry Council (ACC) in 1995 and currently serves as Vice President for the Plastics Division. In that capacity he leads the Division’s solutions-oriented programs, scientific research and public outreach regarding product innovations and solutions. Through value chain and other partnerships the Division is driving efforts to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover plastics, and to provide sustainable solutions to prevent litter, increase recycling, and address marine debris. At ACC, Mr. Russell has previously served as Senior Legal Counsel and as Senior Director for Health, Products and Science Policy. Mr. Russell earned a BA from the University of Kansas in 1984, and a JD from California Western School of Law in 1987.

Steve Davies

Director - Marketing/Public Affairs
Nature Works

“Plastics – Rethinking Where They’re From, What They Do, and Where They Go”

Steve leads marketing & public affairs globally for NatureWorks LLC, a company formed with the mission of bringing to market a broad family of naturally advanced, renewably sourced materials.. He is responsible for the company’s cradle-to-cradle strategy, including feedstocks sourcing and strategy, product recovery strategies, and for managing the company’s external communications and media relations.

Previously as NatureWorks’ global marketing director, Steve was responsible for market development with Ingeo plastics in rigid and flexible packaging, food service-ware and durable goods, and with Ingeo fibers in apparel, personal care, home and garden.

Robert McKay

Senior Business Manager – Global Sustainability
SABIC - Innovative Plastics

Robert will be chairing the thought-provoking panel “Design and Sustainability”

Robert is a 17-year veteran of in the plastics industry. Robert’s experience in the industry encompassed roles from marketing, to product management, and commercial. In 2005 Robert started his work in sustainability at SABIC. He managed the development of NORYL™ resin utilizing post-consumer-recycle content, while also helping form SABIC’s corporate sustainability program in 2009. Robert currently leads Sustainability Marketing for SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business, working with the business’ marketing and innovation leaders to identify opportunities to continue to drive sustainability in the business. Robert has degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Finance, and Business Administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Boston College respectively.

Sam Harrington

Product Design Manager
Ecovative Design

“A Kingdom of Possibilities – and a Growth Market you Won’t Believe”

Sam joined Ecovative when the company was just a few people in a basement with a wild idea to revolutionize the way materials are made. He’s helped develop the automated bio-manufacturing system that harnesses living fungi to turn agricultural crop wastes into protective packaging. Sam has conducted Life Cycle Assessments of the production system to inform engineering decisions and minimize Ecovative’s environmental footprint. He has worked with numerous Fortune 500 customers to develop award winning sustainable packaging and product solutions utilizing Mushroom Materials. Today, Sam’s focus is on obsoleting the largest use of plastic foams: building insulation. Sam received a dual B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Product Design from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Dr. Richard Mattison


“Valuing Plastic – The Business Case for Measuring, Managing and Reporting”

Richard is Chief Executive of Trucost Plc, the leading provider of natural capital measurement and valuation. Trucost has been helping companies, investors, governments, academics and thought leaders to understand the economic consequences of natural capital dependency for over 12 years.

Richard has advised various UN bodies and governments on environmental reporting and ecosystem services and has led groundbreaking projects including developing the world’s first Environmental Profit and Loss account for PUMA, valuing the environmental externalities of the world’s 3,000 largest companies for the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, and producing the UK Government’s Environmental Reporting Guidelines for Business.

Richard is also a Member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Biodiversity & Natural Capital, member of the Oxford University Smith School Stranded Asset Programme consultative panel, advisor to The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) coalition, fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a regular public speaker on environmental matters.

Previously Richard held a number of senior positions as a strategy consultant and began his career as a neuroscientist. Richard holds a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Edinburgh.

A Voice from Our Youth

Gary Bencheghib

Film Student and Ocean Ambassador

“Leadership from our Youth”

Gary, nicknamed Bémore, was born in Paris, at 19-year-old has spent the last ten years living in Bali, Indonesia, known as the “Island of the Gods” for its deep spiritual heritage. At 14, Gary founded Make A Change Bali, to raise awareness about the increase in beach pollution by employing music to educate and engage the local Balinese community in environmental activities.

As a passionate music composer and filmmaker, Gary believes that music and film have the power to bring people together to make a change. Gary currently studies documentary film-making at the New York Film Academy.

In 2012, Gary was selected as a Global Teen Leader to attend the Just Peace summit by We Are Family Foundation.