- Arizona State University (ASU) and the city of Phoenix have partnered to create the Resource, Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN) Incubator, as reported in the Phoenix Business Journal. They're seeking startups that want to minimize, prevent or reuse waste — whether that's through a product, service or software — to apply for the incubator.
- Selected participants will have access to waste from Phoenix's Solid Waste Department, dedicated "expert mentors," and will be introduced to industry stakeholders. The RISN was originally launched to pull value, jobs and economic opportunity out of Arizona's waste stream.
- Local startups will be given preference, but the application is also open to those out-of-state. There is no cost to a company if accepted and office space will be provided in Scottsdale, AZ. July 24 is the deadline to apply.
Encouraging a startup culture in waste and recycling allows new, tech-advanced ideas to be born into an industry that is arguably stuck in its traditional ways. While the industry has seen many startup ideas surrounding food waste mitigation, only a few have focused on other waste management or product reuse solutions, making this industry an open target for startups looking to quickly grow with minimal competition.
Working with the RISN Incubator does not mark the first time that Phoenix has embraced the circular economy. Phoenix has awarded a contract to turn palm fronds into usable fertilizers, launched a resident-focused recycling rewards program and partnered with Cisco and other tech companies to find ways to divert the city's waste.
In addition to the environmental benefits of fitting into the circular economy, companies have potential to increase earnings if they reduce waste. Phoenix isn't the first governmental body to partner with emerging private sector startups in pursuit of lowering waste — and it almost certainly won't be the last. As an increasing number of private- and public-sector firms continue to place a heightened emphasis on sustainability, zero-waste and joining the circular economy, it important for the waste industry get on board or risk losing profits and public trust alike.