Rumpke unveils plans for new Columbus recycling center

·4 min read
Rendering of the planned Rumpke recycling center for Joyce Avenue in Columbus.
Rendering of the planned Rumpke recycling center for Joyce Avenue in Columbus.

Rumpke Waste and Recycling plans a 200,000-square-foot, $50 million recycling center in Columbus that will create 60 jobs and vastly expand the company's capacity to process recyclable waste from cities and towns throughout the state.

The Cincinnati-based refuse collection company boasts that the upcoming facility on Joyce Avenue will be the fifth-largest recycling processor in North America and will allow workers to process around 50 tons of waste per hour. Rumpke can currently process around 30 tons per hour.

“When we launch in the first quarter of 2024, this is going to be the most technologically advanced system in the country,” said Andrew Rumpke, the company’s area president and a member of the family that owns Rumpke.

Equipment such as ballistic separators and optical scanners will remove some of the need for workers to directly handle waste, freeing them up for tasks like quality control, he said.

“All that technology makes the workflow safer and makes the run time better, and it allows for us to process more material,” Rumpke said.

Growth in Greater Columbus creating more recycling

The Columbus area is rapidly adding residents and businesses, and Rumpke officials said a new recycling center is necessary to handle the extra waste population growth will generate.

“As the Columbus region grows to over 3 million people, we are building out a system to accept recycling from the Columbus region and a lot of the state of Ohio,” Rumpke said. “This framework is going to help us to be more flexible in adding more material to the list of acceptable (items).”

The refuse recycling company collects recyclable waste from homes and businesses in Columbus and some of its suburbs, but its reach includes 36 counties that also encompass Greater Cincinnati.

Andrew Rumpke stressed that all 500 people who currently work for Rumpke in Columbus will keep their jobs.

Rumpke partners with Ohio State, COSI, neighborhood groups to promote careers in recycling

At a Tuesday news conference in Rumpke’s current recycling facility on East 5th Avenue in the Milo-Grogan neighborhood, company officials and politicians including Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted highlighted Rumpke’s partnership with neighborhood organizations and Columbus institutions such as Ohio State University and the COSI science center.

Rumpke is donating $100,000 to Ohio State to fund scholarships and plans to collaborate with the university to educate students on waste recycling technology at its upcoming facility.

The plan is to prepare students for careers in the waste recycling industry and help Ohio State’s Sustainability Institute find ways to recycle more trash.

"We throw an awful lot of stuff away that could have another purpose," said Kate Bartter, the Sustainability Institute’s executive director.

Joining forces on research should bring the university closer to its goal of recycling all of its waste by 2025, she said.

"This is really a collaboration that grows out of joint interests within our institutions," Bartter said.

She called the university’s zero waste goal “very ambitious,” and said the inability to recycle some types of waste is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving it.

With COSI’s help, the waste processing company wants to provide on-site and off-site education about the recycling process.

Rumpke pledged to create good-paying jobs for the communities it calls home. The company’s entry level jobs pay at least $18 per hour, Andrew Rumpke said.

Sean Ruffin, vice chair of the North Central Area Commission, said Rumpke reached out to his organization to discuss hiring people who live in disadvantaged Columbus neighborhoods.

"This is the first time in over 50 years I've seen industry come to the community at the outset of the process," he said.

The upcoming recycling center helps Ohio achieve a sustainable supply chain, an enticing prospect for companies looking to relocate here, Husted said at the news conference.

For example, hardware maker Intel wants its upcoming New Albany computer chip factories to recycle as much waste as possible.

"This will draw a spotlight to Ohio, and draw a spotlight to Columbus," Husted said of Rumpke’s planned recycling center.

pcooley@dispatch.com

@PatrickACooley

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Rumpke to build advanced recycling center in Columbus on Joyce Avenue