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Office for Research and Graduate Education

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Unveiling Potential: Circular Economy Approaches to Plastic Waste

What on Earth can we do in central Ohio with our plastics?! Macro-level analyses of carbon emissions from plastic recycling show there are problems and opportunities in making and using these materials. This program, co-hosted with Ohio State’s Facilities Operations and Development, Sustainability & Strategic Services, and the Sustainability Institute, will examine plastic from “Zero Waste” and “Circular Economy” perspectives through the lenses of product design, materials, outreach, and policy.

Regional waste management experts will review which plastic products in the central Ohio region can be utilized effectively in re-use or recycled forms or eliminated from the supply chain, while contrasting these to the materials that are fundamental to human health and quality of life, such as in health care settings, and cannot be removed or repurposed. From a zero-waste perspective, we can eliminate unnecessary plastics while also developing strategies for non-eliminable plastics that serve critical roles in our community, social and economic settings at their sources through waste diversion. While the scale of material diversion is less for plastics compared to other materials, the scale and impact of misappropriately managed plastics is significant. A little bit of plastic managed ineffectively goes a long way in detrimental impact. On the flip side, well designed systems create new market opportunities, economic expansion, and efficiency gains while closing the loop on waste streams.

Join the EPN and plastic management experts from the City of Columbus, Rumpke Waste & Recycling, Advanced Drainage Systems, SWACO, and The Ohio State University to explore the context, emerging strategies, and market opportunities for the circular economy of central Ohio’s plastic streams.