Ian Goodine and Ethan Walko Named to 2022 Class of Boston’s “25 Under 25” Awardees
Alumni Ian Goodine and Ethan Walko, who both earned their B.S. (2021) and M.S. (2022) degrees from the UMass Amherst Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, have been included in BostInno’s “25 Under 25” class for 2022. The prestigious list of 25 young company founders, nonprofit leaders, stand-out startup employees, students, and other prodigies is released each year by BostInno, a top source for Boston’s innovation, startup, growth, and technology news. While still at UMass Amherst, Goodine and Walko founded rStream with a pioneering vision to automate waste collection and create a far-sighted system of sustainable recycling. See http://www.rstreamrecycling.com.
As the BostInno website explains, Goodine and Walko “co-founded rStream while completing their master’s degrees at UMass Amherst. They are currently researching and fundraising for the production of an AI-driven system that can sort trash, recyclables, and alternative biomaterials onsite at stadiums and universities. The startup is a member of Greentown Labs in Somerville, Massachusetts, and is backed by National Science Foundation funding.”
rStream is a groundbreaking approach to facilitate the proper collection of recyclables to curb the vast amount of plastic dumped into landfills each year. With accurate collection, discarded waste can be reused to manufacture innumerable items and technologies in an eco-friendly way.
According to Goodine and Walko, “Every year $11.4 billion worth of recoverable material is sent to landfill. rStream’s solution addresses the first step of material recovery, the decisions made when you first throw something away. By accurately diverting recyclables and compostables from trash, we allow waste companies to capitalize on the scrap value of materials and supply the circular economy [of reutilizing them].”
As Goodine and Walko explain, “Look around, plastic is everywhere. It lives forever, so it's perfect to build with and awful to trash. rStream is looking to create a world of hands-free waste collection with more recyclables being captured than ever before. This will significantly increase the chances for materials to reach a sustainable end of life and help the historically low recycling rates.”
One example of how inefficiently Americans handle their plastic discards is that, in 2017 alone, 35-million tons of plastic solid waste were generated in the U.S. with only about 8 percent recycled and 80 percent landfilled.
The rStream system includes pre-processing and sorting stages to enable automated collection. Goodine and Walko observe that rStream is designed to utilize intelligent sensing to signal a sorting mechanism without human intervention. Recyclables can then be processed at a recycling plant more appropriately. “This unlocks the commodity value of recyclables in a cost- and resource-efficient way,” they say.
Goodine and Walko conclude that “rStream is taking aim at the biggest process loss in recycling, and overcoming its current limitations through automation has the potential to bring economic viability and data-driven operations into an industry providing essential sustainable services.”
During the latest UMass Amherst Homecoming 2022 celebrations on October 28, Goodine and Walko were back on campus to take part in the first Institute for Applied Life Sciences Innovators Showcase, which was called “Developing Solutions for Real World Challenges.” The award-winning entrepreneurs were here to represent rStream as one of 11 innovative startups that have recently emerged from campus research. Learn more about the showcase here. (December 2022)