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Environmental Professionals Network

School of Environment and Natural Resources


Plastics, we got your number! New circular economy approaches unveiling potential to make a difference

Nov 14, 2023, 7:15am - 9:30am

Photo button from a collection of different images from the EPN Sept Breakfast

Program Overview

What on Earth can we do in central Ohio with our plastics?! Macro-level analyses of carbon emissions from plastic recycling show there are problems and opportunities in making and using these materials. This program, co-hosted with Ohio State’s Facilities Operations and Development, Sustainability & Strategic Services, and the Sustainability Institute, will examine plastic from “Zero Waste” and “Circular Economy” perspectives through the lenses of product design, materials, outreach, and policy.

Regional waste management experts will review which plastic products in the central Ohio region can be utilized effectively in re-use or recycled forms or eliminated from the supply chain, while contrasting these to the materials that are fundamental to human health and quality of life, such as in health care settings, and cannot be removed or repurposed. From a zero-waste perspective, we can eliminate unnecessary plastics while also developing strategies for non-eliminable plastics that serve critical roles in our community, social and economic settings at their sources through waste diversion. While the scale of material diversion is less for plastics compared to other materials, the scale and impact of misappropriately managed plastics is significant. A little bit of plastic managed ineffectively goes a long way in detrimental impact. On the flip side, well designed systems create new market opportunities, economic expansion, and efficiency gains while closing the loop on waste streams.

Join the EPN and plastic management experts from the City of Columbus, Rumpke Waste & Recycling, Advanced Drainage Systems, SWACO, and The Ohio State University to explore the context, emerging strategies, and market opportunities for the circular economy of central Ohio’s plastic streams.


7:15 a.m. Doors open at Ohio State 4-H Center; Coffee served for in-person attendees.

7:40 a.m. Breakfast buffet served for in-person attendees.

8:00 a.m. Livestreaming service begins for virtual attendees.

8:10 a.m. Tim Haab, PhD, interim director, Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources and Josh Knights, director of partnerships, Sustainability Institute at Ohio State provide welcome remarks.

8:20 a.m. Expert presentations on plastics and the challenges and opportunities associated with the transition towards regional circular economies. This session will be facilitated by Knights.

Aryeh Alex, sustainability manager, Division of Refuse Collection, City of Columbus, and executive director, Keep Columbus Beautiful

Andrew Booker, programs manager, Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio

Mary Leciejewski, zero waste manager, Facilities Operations and Development, Sustainability & Strategic Services, The Ohio State University

Rebecca Reichenbach, recycling marketing manager, Rumpke Waste & Recycling

Brian King, executive vice president of marketing, product management and sustainability, Advanced Drainage Systems

Christian Blanco, PhD, assistant professor of operations and business analytics, The Ohio State University

9:15 a.m. Live audience Q & A session for both in-person and virtual audiences

9:30 a.m. Dr. Haab concludes EPN Breakfast program component. Break and networking session for in-person guests. Livestreaming service concludes for virtual attendees.


Josh KnightsJosh Knights, director of partnerships, Sustainability Institute at The Ohio State University

Josh develops partnerships between Ohio State and major stakeholders, including businesses, government agencies, and local communities, to help solve global sustainability challenges.  He works with colleagues across the university to leverage Ohio State’s core strengths in research, teaching, and using campus as a living laboratory in the fields of sustainable energy, circular economy, ecosystem health, smart and resilient communities, and sustainable resources.  Josh believes in the power of collaboration to solve complex challenges facing society. Prior to joining Ohio State in 2018, Josh held leadership positions at The Nature Conservancy, including Executive Director of the Ohio program and Director of Corporate Partnerships. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in international relations from The Johns Hopkins University.

Aryeh AlexAryeh Alex, sustainability manager, Division of Refuse Collection, City of Columbus, and executive director, Keep Columbus Beautiful

Aryeh Alex has spent his life working towards and advocating for a more just and equitable society. He currently leads the Keep Columbus Beautiful program with the City of Columbus where he works towards achieving the Climate Action Plan goals of waste reduction, recycling, and sustainability efforts. Aryeh previously held senior positions with advocacy campaigns, nonprofit organizations, and has served in elected office as a township trustee. At the Ohio Environmental Council, he organized a powerful, grassroots movement that focused on ensuring clean air, water, and accessible public lands for all Ohioans. His passion for protecting our natural resources led to his involvement of the Friends of Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, where he served as President for three terms and vice-president for one term. Aryeh worked in this role to expand park access to underserved communities, created opportunities for individuals to experience nature for the first time, expanded park access to all, through passing a countywide levy that funded operations of the park district for a decade

Luke HenningAndrew Booker, programs manager, Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio

Andrew Booker is the programs manager of the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO), helping to create strong and resilient communities by making neighborhoods safer, more sustainable places to live, work and raise a family. Andrew previously served as supervisor of solid waste at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Division of Solid and Infectious Waste Management. SWACO serves Franklin County and neighboring areas with solutions for solid waste with the mission of reducing reliance on landfills. Acting upon that mission, SWACO provides consumers recycling opportunities around Franklin County at recycling drop-off locations.

Lisa GoldsandRebecca Reichenbach, recycling marketing manager, Rumpke Waste & Recycling

As recycling marketing manager, Becky Reichenbach markets all commodities from Rumpke Waste and Recycling's 14 recyling plants throughout Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia. She graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor of science in Environmental Science. Becky has been in the waste and recycling industry throughout her career including previous roles with Midwest Region Business Development, International Paper, and Waste Management.  

Tasha Lewis

Mary Leciejewski, zero waste manager, Facilities Operations and Development, Sustainability & Strategic Services, The Ohio State University

Mary Leciejewski supports Ohio State’s zero waste goal to divert 90% of waste away from landfill. Mary is a 2023 recipient of the Ohio State Energy Partners Award of $50,000 for administration and planning’s food scrap compost expansion. This project will provide funding for up to 5,000 free compost mini-bins and educational materials targeting off-campus students. Mary previously services as senior sustainability coordinator for Ohio State’s Office of Energy Services and Sustainability. She holds a M.S. in environmental studies from Ohio University.

Constance UlasewiczBrian King, executive vice president of marketing, product management and sustainability, Advanced Drainage Systems

Brian King joined ADS in September 2020 and serves as Executive Vice President, Product Management and Marketing. Mr. King came to the Company with over 25 years of product management and marketing experience in both consumer and commercial businesses. From 2013 to September 2020, Mr. King worked at Owens Corning, a Toledo, Ohio-based company that develops and produces insulation, roofing and fiberglass composites and related materials, serving as Vice President, Strategic Marketing from 2016 to 2020 and Director of Strategic Marketing from 2015 to 2016. Prior to Mr. King’s role at Owens Corning, he held leadership positions at The Stanley Works, Elmer’s Products Inc., and Avery Dennison Corporation. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from McMaster University. He has received certifications in Marketing Management and Executive Education from York University and the University of North Carolina respectively.

Constance UlasewiczChristian Blanco, PhD, assistant professor of operations and business analytics, Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University

Christian Blanco is an assistant professor of operations management at the Fisher College of Business. He joined the Operations and Business Analytics department (formerly Management Sciences) after receiving his Ph.D. from the UCLA Anderson School of Management in 2017. His research domain is sustainable operations management. His research has been published in Manufacturing and Service Operations Management, Production and Operations Management, Risk Analysis, Energy Policy, Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, and Business Horizons. Blanco uses data and text analytics to examine business and environmental problems. He is among the first scholars in his field to apply text analytics in sustainable OM. He has also implemented text analysis in other domains of OM, such as pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Additional Information

This event’s menu features sausage patties, scrambled eggs, potato hash, and fresh fruit salad, Coffee, hot tea, fruit juices and water will be served. There will be plates, cups, woodware, and napkins.  

We strive to host events that are inclusive and accessible to everyone. If you have a disability and require accommodations to fully participate in this activity, please reach out to Callia Téllez ( Requests made five business days in advance will generally allow us to provide seamless access. However, we will make every effort to meet requests made after this time frame. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs. For the virtual audience, a closed captioning option via EPN’s YouTube live stream will be available, as well as other accommodations as requested on the registration.

Masks are optional for all event attendees at this event, in accordance with Ohio State’s Safe and Healthy Protocols as of this date. In-person attendees will be expected to follow Ohio State protocols regarding the prevention of COVID-19 transmission. More health and safety information available on this Personal Safety Practices page

This program will be livestreamed on the  EPN YouTube page. Additional information on livestream connections are available to those who register as a virtual participant for this event. 

EPN Breakfast Series

The Environmental Professionals Network hosts a monthly breakfast series with compelling speakers on important innovative topics at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on Ohio State’s campus - open to all!