Ohio State Working with State to Expand Circular Economy

August 01, 2017

Ohio is taking major steps toward building a circular, closed-loop economy, and the Sustainable and Resilient Economy program (SRE) and the Office of Energy and Environment (OEE) are working together to advance the cause.

In recognition of a new partnership with the Ohio EPA, the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD) sponsored “Expanding the Circle” on July 18-19 at the Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on Ohio State’s Columbus campus. SRE and OEE hosted the conference.

(Pictured Above: From left to right: Andrew Mangan, executive director of United States Business Council for Sustainable Development; Alexandra Dunn, executive director of The Environmental Council of the States; Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler; and Kate Bartter, director of the Office of Energy and Environment at Ohio State.)

The event brought together about 75 professionals from business, higher education, government, and non-governmental organizations to explore four key topics:

  • Development of  circular economies at an urban scale
  • Linkages between human and environmental systems, including natural and technological cycles
  • Cyclical supply networks that are both resilient and sustainable.
  • Digital platforms that can expand growth of the circular economy

Speakers from Ohio State included Elena Irwin, professor of agricultural, environmental, and development economics; Bhavik Bakshi, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering; and Joseph Fiksel, a research faculty member in the Integrated Systems Engineering Department. Irwin and Fiksel jointly lead SRE.

OEE Director Kate Bartter moderated a panel session with Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler and Alexandra Dunn, executive director of the Environmental Council of the States (ECO). Butler emphasized the importance of the agency’s technical assistance and pollution prevention programs in supporting the competitiveness of Ohio-based companies while advancing environmental protection.

In April, the Ohio EPA adopted the Materials Marketplace, a free online network developed by US BCSD  to help divert waste materials from landfills so that they can be reused. By connecting businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs, this digital platform enables creative solutions for beneficial recovery of wastes and by-products such as wooden pallets, used brick, and spent foundry sand. Marketplace members can simply post a description of the material they have available – or a material they need – and then coordinate transactions with other members.

Ohio is the first state to adopt a circular economy program of this scope and is working with the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) to pave the way for other states to to launch materials marketplaces modeled on Ohio’s example. 




Rinderle | 7.30.17