EREF’s Data & Policy Program (D&P) was developed as part of the foundation’s efforts to expand its mission to advance knowledge and education for sustainable solid waste management. The primary objective of the D&P is to aggregate and analyze solid waste data. The program also provides experience to undergraduate and graduate students who assist in data gathering and analysis. To date, 16 students have completed internships in the program, 81 percent of whom have gone on to work in the solid waste industry or related careers.
The 2017 Rehrig Pacific Intern of the Year is Raleigh native John Mullan, who is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, double majoring in mathematical decision sciences and environmental studies with a minor in information systems.
Named internships are awarded to students who demonstrate an excellent work ethic and performance, as well as express a strong interest in the industry, says the EREF.
“Rehrig Pacific recognizes the growth and innovation the next generation of young professionals will bring to the waste industry,” says Scott Lukach, vice president of environmental at Rehrig Pacific. “We are pleased to support the research performed through EREF’s Data & Policy Program as well as the interns the program employs. John’s dedication to his field and work made him a prime candidate to receive this award, and we look forward to his contributions to the future of the industry.”
Since beginning his internship, Mullan’s work has focused on EREF’s Sustainable Materials Management Sector Flow project, which analyzes waste generation from key economic sectors, such as retail (e.g., restaurant, grocery, big box stores), hospitality and institutional (e.g., K-12 schools and universities). He has developed a catalog of corporate entities, and from this researched corporate sustainability reports and other waste management information to summarize their practices, the EREF says. This investigation will result in a list of best practices as well as a snapshot of how solid waste is managed in each sector. Mullan has dedicated most of his attention to the School Cafeteria Discards Assessment Project, a part of the Sector Flow project that aims to better understand the type and quantity of waste generated from K-12 school cafeterias.
Mullan says he believes the opportunities and experience gained through his EREF internship, from networking with industry members at foundation events to the honing of technical skills, are second to none.
“It is an honor to be named the 2017 Rehrig Pacific Intern of the Year,” says Mullan. “Conducting research through EREF’s Data & Policy Program has been an invaluable experience, which allows me to apply the methods and concepts learned in the classroom to real-world projects in order to create real, tangible solutions. Being recognized for this award has furthered my interest in the industry and garnered greater appreciation for the innovating research EREF conducts on a daily basis.”
EREF is a 501(c)(3) class charity that funds and directs scientific research and educational initiatives for waste management practices to benefit industry participants and the communities they serve. For more complete information on EREF funded research, its scholarship program and how to donate to the fund, visit www.erefdn.org.