A new paradigm focused on integrated resource management is emerging in response to the current unsustainable pace of resource consumption, waste production, and the increasing financial, social and environmental cost of managing resources. Recognizing this opportunity, the City of Phoenix and the ASU Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiative (WSSI) within the Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) have partnered to establish the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN). RISN brings together university, government, business and non-governmental partners to transform the relationship between resources, the environment and the economy in order to create a resource-focused Circular Economy (CE) platform that makes urban areas healthier, resilient and more efficient. CE can be defined as an industrial economy where there is no waste and therefore is restorative by intention, aims to rely on renewable energy, and hopefully eradicates waste through careful design. In the context of waste and waste stream resources, CE flows are self-sustaining and comprise a closed loop of resources that are reused and recycled so that almost no waste is produced.
RISN positions the business case for sustainability that drives industry-related initiatives that promote economic development. It is this business case that not only drives the agenda for decision makers, but also supports the appropriate definition of the scope of problems and related opportunities. It enables them to recognize the conditions under which decisions must be made, implemented and monitored to significantly transform their cities.
RISN advances integrated resource management through a global network of public and private partners using collaboration, research, innovation and application of technologies to create economic value, driving a sustainable circular economy. The initiative connects with innovators and organizations looking to create, implement and/or enhance sustainability solutions. Developing solutions in collaboration with RISN’s public and private partners provides access to research and expertise from the nation’s leading sustainability education institution, feedstock and facility resources from one of the nation’s largest and most ambitious municipalities, and shared knowledge from like-minded organizations working to create economic value that drives a sustainable circular economy.
The potential impacts of RISN initiatives begin with increased waste aversion, diversion and better use of diverted waste and recycling material. More importantly, RISN is focused on economic development outcomes: creation of new new local businesses, growth of existing ones and jobs.
Click here for a full description of current RISN projects:
• Green Organics Regional System Design (coming soon!) to develop a current status map and system design for landscape waste throughout the Phoenix metropolitan region. It will include a regional map of available feedstock volume and type, along with a system design that identifies the specific sites and technologies where the type and volume of available feedstock can be processed economically and environmentally, based on a flexible market demand determination. Within the month, outreach efforts will commence to engage city Solid Waste Divisions.
• Multi-Family Recycling is a solutions-oriented research and student-led project that will identify opportunities and strategies to implement waste-reduction in multi-family housing complexes.
• Food Scrap and Resource Feasibility study will develop a Phoenix food scraps conversion program, in partnership with the local grocers and the City of Phoenix. This project will assess the economic viability of pre-consumer food waste solutions and to quantify the amount, quality, and location of food-waste feedstock in the Phoenix metropolitan region.
• Waste Assessment Tool project is the development of a Resource Valuation Assessment (RVA) Tool to identify the processing costs associated with internal waste management and educate organizations in best waste management practices.
• Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) Waste Reduction project is a solutions-oriented and student-led project that is implementing waste reduction programs throughout all PVUSD schools through developing optimal recycling and waste policies. The basis of this project is a student-led research effort and teacher workshops conducted by ASU Sustainability Science for Sustainable Schools.
• Living Building Challenge Course and Analysis is being taught at ASU’s School of Sustainability to explore the opportunities to incorporate Living Building concepts into the master plan for the RISN campus as well as the envisioned headquarters building.
• Regional GHG Emissions Measurement project to develop a state-of-the-art comprehensive regional GHG emissions management system that will set the gold standard for how cities address urban climate protection, public engagement and collaborative sustainability-driven economic development.