The Global Waste Research Institute was conceptualized by two Cal Poly roommates and lifelong friends on a cross-country trip. Bob Davis (Math - 1965 - a 40 year veteran of solid waste recycling) and Conrad Young (Mechanical Engineering - 1966 - materials science for over 35 years), visited several tire recycling facilities once managed by Bob in the Midwest. These visits sparked "miles of conversations' regarding materials management and resource utilization. Further discussion led to the question of "What University has its arms around solid waste?" The answer was that no university had a comprehensive program and what better place to fill this void than Cal Poly with its hands-on Learn-by-Doing philosophy. The key would be to unify the concept through buy-in by the respective Colleges to take advantage of the breadth of technology, business, science, etc., along with a very diverse-and knowledgeable faculty and a bright student population. Upon arrival in San Luis Obispo at a cross-country journey's end, Bob and Conrad cold-called on the respective Deans of the Colleges of Science/Math and Engineering. Both Deans liked the concept and endorsed further conceptualization. Subsequent calls were made on the Deans of Agriculture, Architecture, and Business, and the President with universal endorsement to move the concept forward.
From conceptual endorsement, the internal process to implement the Global Waste Research Institute was officially established three years later. Initial capitalization of the Institute was through a time-sequenced grant by Waste Connections, Inc. of $1 million and access provided to the Waste Connections solid waste infrastructure (collection, disposal, recycling) for use by students and faculty in related research (millions of dollars of "laboratories"). The presence of a lead college for GWRI, the College of Engineering, ensures sustainable enthusiasm by all aspects of the Cal Poly community for solving waste and byproduct challenges.
A cross-country trip conceptualized GWRl. The concept is now materialized in the Institute to address a wide variety of waste- and byproduct-related topics with consideration to entire life cycle of these materials starting from initial generation to end of life as indicated by exhaustion of resource value. GWRI contributes to sustainable management of wastes and byproducts as resources and/or energy in environmentally acceptable and compliant manners, as well as provides input for education and policy-related topics. The cross-country trip has ended; GWRI's journey has just begun.
President/Managing Partner in Rubber Recovery, Inc.