Trash Revolution

Trash-preneur George Gitschel ’81 wants your garbage.

Trash Revolution
Image by Justin Sloan via Flickr

We’re swimming in garbage, but George Gitschel ’81 has drawn up detailed plans for a lifesaver. The average American produces about 4.9 pounds of waste each day—trash, recyclables, and compostable materials—and at least half ends up in landfills. Gitschel’s plan would put much more of that waste to reuse, without having to depend on residents doing a professional-level job of trash cleaning and sorting themselves.

To people in Placer County, Calif., this might sound familiar. Gitschel was part of the company that brought the One Big Bin approach to that community, which sorts recycling from trash within a single container.

His expanded vision for a recycling center through his company, EcoHub, includes cleaning, sorting, recycling, and composting on site with the waste from those projects generating electricity and potable water. Truly nonrecyclable items are converted to carbon bricks that can be used in blast furnaces or the chemical industry, for example.

“It’s putting everything to its highest use,” says Gitschel, who sees the project as his higher purpose. “When God planted that idea in my head, I didn’t realized it would take 25 years to get to this point.”

He has funding and engineering done, but has yet to find a place willing to jump at a new way of doing things at the expense of powerful industries with known technologies. “I just need garbage,” Gitschel says, “just give me 6 tons of it a year.” 

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