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PlanetReuse one of ‘America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs’

Nathan Benjamin and Willow Lundgren of PlanetReuse have spanned the country to keep building materials out of landfills. 

PlanetReuse, a Kansas City, Mo. company that aims to reduce construction and demolition waste, was one of 25 companies honored on Bloomberg Businessweek’s list of “America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs.”

“For-profit business can be an instrument for social change,” PlanetReuse partner and chief strategy officer Willow Lundgren said Wednesday.

Nathan Benjamin, principal and founder, started the company in 2008 with the goal of connecting people seeking reuse materials with those who have a surplus.

“Ultimately, PlanetReuse was founded to take all the hard work out of the process,” he said. “Without a [person or company] in that role, there’s a lot of roadblocks to reuse happening.” 

The company says construction and demolition waste represents 40 percent of the material going in America’s landfills, which it aims to reduce to 30 percent by 2020. In addition to being environmentally-friendly, the company says reused materials can be cheaper and higher-quality, and donations can be tax-deductible. The Kauffman Center for Performing Arts is among its notable projects.

The two partners built a second business, InvenQuery, to help connect reuse centers with potential customers and track materials.

Karen E. Klein, the small business columnist for Businessweek that wrote about PlanetReuse, said the company stood out because of its two-pronged appoach: their website caters to both commercial and residential clients.

“PlanetReuse had a unique take on a problem that not many other companies were trying to solve,” Klein said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Businessweek’s fourth annual list, which features everything from a biodegradable plastic company to coworking spaces to a service that reports working conditions, was narrowed down from more than 300 reader suggestions. Klein said the list helps to shine a light on companies that might not otherwise get recognition outside of their region.

At the end of the slideshow is a poll where readers can vote on their favorite ideas. The top 5 vote-getters will be honored with repeat coverage in Businessweek.

Stay tuned to Silicon Prairie News in the coming weeks for more on PlanetReuse and InvenQuery.


*Update June 29 – Corrected: PlanetReuse aims to reduce the amount of construction and demolition waste going into landfills to 30 percent by 2020, the article originally read 2012. 

Credits: Photo courtesy PlanetReuse blog, logo courtesy PlanetReuse on Facebook

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