Global Waste Research Institute

Transforming waste into opportunities

Ronald J. Mittelstaedt

Waste Connections, Inc. is a California-headquartered, national solid waste management company with operations in 27 states. In the short 13 years since Waste Connections’ inception in 1997, the industry has transitioned from fairly traditional, collection-recycling-disposal methods to more complex approaches of managing solid waste as a resource. Today’s solid waste industry is utilizing increasingly greater sophistication and more technology to cope with increasing stratification of the waste stream. Historic economics-of-scale associated with a single vehicle collecting large quantities of commingled waste for landfill disposal are waning in favor of more expensive "green solutions" demanded by customers and governmental entities. Although landfills are still envisioned in future practices, greater beneficial use and/or reuse of solid waste are the industry’s challenges. These challenges will require detailed assessment of individual or families of waste components. Management and supervisory personnel will require greater practical understanding and skills to deal with waste stratification. Thus, the industry is in need of employees with practical education to meet engineering, scientific and business needs - employees that can "talk (and understand) trash as a resource."

Waste Connections believes providing the seed money to Cal Poly to initiate the Global Waste Research Institute ("GWRI") was an astute investment toward cultivating appropriate, technically proficient human resource needs to manage the future of an increasingly stratified solid waste stream. Cal Poly’s renowned reputation for producing technically proficient graduates who can step into the job-scene at a sprint simply needed a "trash forum" to provide an appropriate hands-on education base for the solid waste industry. GWRI provides this forum. For example, GWRI students will learn that green yard waste has a cellulose base and green food waste has a protein base, which means that beneficial use and/or reuse technologies for such waste streams are technically and scientifically different. To this end, Waste Connections’ local solid waste franchise in San Luis Obispo can provide an in situ laboratory for Cal Poly’s esteemed faculty and students to teach and learn the necessary skills for the changing-and-challenging solid waste industry. We believe our investment in GWRI is a key component in the future success of Waste Connections.

Ronald J. Mittelstaedt
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

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