A new collaboration between the Sustainability Institute at The Ohio State University and Rumpke Waste & Recycling will support advances in circular economy research, teaching and practices at a time when population growth in central Ohio is expected to bring new challenges to managing waste. The company will invest in the university’s zero-waste goal by funding expanded efforts to improve recycling and waste elimination on campus. Additional funds will support engineering research and teaching to unlock ways that artificial intelligence and new automation can improve the effectiveness of recovering recycled material from the waste stream. The collaboration is supported by a new gift of $1 million from the company.
Rumpke is also endowing an undergraduate scholarship to support Ohio State’s Scarlet & Gray Advantage program, which will empower students to earn their bachelor’s degree debt-free. “The collaboration with Rumpke highlights the importance of circular economy as a pillar of a more sustainable and just society,” said Kate Bartter, executive director of the Sustainability Institute. Worldwide, 3.5 million tons of solid waste are generated daily, according to the World Bank. In a circular economy, waste is converted to valuable resources through a shift toward a closed-loop system that recovers these materials and puts them back into the production cycle.
A 2021 study conducted by Ohio State’s Facilities Operations and Development found that up to 68% of the materials thrown away at the university could be recycled, composted or eliminated from the waste stream. A circular economy can also create new jobs in design, materials engineering, automation, behavioral sciences and other fields.
Rumpke is helping Ohio State do its part by supporting zero-waste strategies implemented on campus by facilities and operations staff. The collaboration will fund recycling initiatives such as waste characterization studies, waste infrastructure assessments and education campaigns; expansion of systems to maximize the usefulness of organic materials; and strategies to prevent waste generation, especially bulk materials, at the source.