The end came for the styrofoam clamshell container twenty years ago, thanks to the innovative partnership of McDonald’s and the Environmental Defense Fund as part of a landmark project that reduced packaging waste for the company, and rippled to the entire industry.  Seen risky at the time, the collaboration was a business and environmental success.  Over the past two decades, we have seen many cross-sector partnerships in environmental and social innovation that stemmed from this groundbreaking work.  In this audio interview, host Jerry Michalski of the EDF speaks with McDonald’s Bob Langert and EDF’s Gwen Ruta as they celebrate their 20 year partnership and look ahead at opportunities for business leadership in sustainability. The Future of Green open call series is an initiative of EDF in collaboration with the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Gwen Ruta directs Environmental Defense Fund’s Corporate Partnerships program. She spearheads its work with leading multinational companies to develop innovative, business-based solutions to environmental challenges and to drive change through the corporate value chain.

Prior to joining Environmental Defense Fund, Ruta was Vice President at Metcalf & Eddy, an international environmental engineering firm. She has also held senior management positions at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.  She has authored numerous articles on environmental issues and is a frequent speaker at business conferences.

Bob Langert is the vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility at McDonald’s. Prior to joining the McDonald’s family, Langert was an operations manager for a McDonald’s distributor, Perlman Rocque, and served as Midwest logistics manager for the American Hospital Supply Corporation. Langert is a graduate of Northwestern University’s MBA program.