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December 5th event aims to support the development of recycling-based businesses

Angela Keane November 27, 2013

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The Ohio University Voinovich School has teamed up with Rural Action, a community service organization that is engaged in social, economic, and environmental justice in the Appalachian region of Ohio, to host a dinner and discussion about zero waste business development opportunities. These types of private businesses will create jobs while helping the region to achieve zero waste goals. ("Zero waste" means 90% diversion of waste away from the landfill.)

As a vision of the Sugar Bush Foundation, the Voinovich School and Rural Action joined to create a zero waste initiative aiming to increase local recycling and spur development of businesses in Appalachian Ohio that use recycled materials. With funding from the Foundation, a robust and multi-year, multi-faceted action plan has been put into place to encourage community members to divert materials away from the landfill and turn that waste into an asset.

The purpose of this dinner is to encourage a regional zero waste economy through sharing stories of successful existing waste-related businesses, discussing entrepreneurial opportunities available, and encouraging people to engage in some of those business endeavors.  John Glazer, TechGROWTH Ohio director and moderator of the upcoming discussion, thinks giving real life examples helps demonstrate the purpose of the zero waste economy. "It is a way of educating by telling the success stories and saying 'here are the resources of the region,'" said Glazer.  "The purpose is to share ideas, inspire ideas, and direct people to make it happen."

The event will include a panel of experts who will discuss market opportunities, network building, business planning, securing financial resources, grant opportunities and marketing strategies. As the moderator, Glazer wants to engage attendees to think about what is possible in the waste industry. "I hope to foster creative solutions to problems. An innovator solves a problem. I'm trying to engage people in a dialogue and have innovations emerge through that discussion," Glazer explains.

Glazer also hopes the event helps people to elevate their understanding of solid waste. "I want people to see it as treasure as opposed to trash. There are a lot of economic opportunities in the solid waste industry. Minimizing waste is a good thing for the environment but it also can be a good thing for the economy."

"Innovative and creative businesses turning waste materials into new resources are popping up across the country. Southeast Ohio is full of potential to develop these new markets," said Kyle O'Keefe, the zero waste initiative coordinator for Rural Action. "We hope this event will inspire creative business ideas, help form new relationships, and create a vision for how we can grow a zero waste economy in Southeast Ohio."

The dinner and discussion will take place on December 5, 2013 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at Kiser's Barbecue at Eclipse Company Store, 11309 Jackson Drive, The Plains, Ohio.  Registration is required.  To register for the event, contact Erin Sykes at erin@ruralaction.org OR 740-677-4047 ext.  28. Space is limited.