Partnership with state DEC brings SUNY-ESF students research to reality
With Earth Day not far behind us, students at SUNY-ESF recently had the opportunity to discuss their environmental projects with top officials from the State Department of Environmental Conservation. The DEC has been a long-time partner with ESF, but its most recent collaboration along with Syracuse University created the Center for Sustainable Materials Management in 2020.
The a one-of-a-kind center is devoted to practices in waste reduction, composting, and more. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos says it was inspiring to hear students’ ideas to address the state’s solid waste and recycling challenges.
“Large amounts of recyclables that used to go to China are now being rejected by China that we have to find a way to make materials more recyclable at the front end. That means using technologies to bring in new types of natural plastics and use all kinds of ways of recycling those things. Our students are finding the answers to these problems we all know are out there. Yet it takes a little bit of time, a little bit of research, and support from an aggressive faculty to solve them.”
Seggos says he envies the opportunities ESF students have to bring their research to reality in the field.
“I told them, I wish that I had a similar opportunity when I was in college 20 years ago, right? To have them in the position of to be able to pitch to a state official, ‘here’s the idea I’ve been working on that you helped to fund, and now you, the Commissioner, can take that idea and bring it further along and actually go solve a problem in the outside world.’ That to me is magic, and that’s exactly what this institution has been doing. We’re so proud to be solving it.”
He commended the ESF students for not just studying solutions theoretically, but for going out and creating solutions themselves. Seggos believes that with the help of the Center for Sustainable Materials Management and his department, students will have enough support on their research to inspire change.