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Stephanos Koullias

University of Massachusetts, MS
EREF Scholar 2014

Path-Dependent Nature of Waste Management and Environmental Justice Impacts

Project Description (while EREF Scholar):
Stephanos’s research will address inadequacies of a system that has historically enabled and perpetuated waste, by addressing urban residents core beliefs in order to affect their daily practices, and creating compatible systems to assist and affirm their responsible choices. To this end, he feels that there should be both individualist as well as structural approaches to managing waste. The premise of his master thesis assumes that uncontaminated material handling is both attainable and desirable, that there is lots of room for improvement in source-separation to reduce recyclables and compostables from being landfilled, and that large urban metropolises have the capacity and responsibility to optimize best practices. The implications of his research will brief public administrators, operations managers, planners, policy analysts and academics on the implications of disaggregation of centralized operations in favor of management at the community level, in order to better determine where the strengths and weaknesses of this approach lie, and how to best address opportunities and threats to the piloting, implementation, and incorporation of these organizational structures.

Stephanos Koullias was born in Brooklyn in 1979 and raised in Staten Island and, later, in Greece. As a child, he contemplated the relative affluence experienced in the west, especially contrasted with media portrayals of suffering in unindustrialiazed parts of the globe. He has been preoccupied by issues of social, economic, and environmental inequities ever since. Though having born witness to several acquaintances and family members whose health was compromised by close proximity to the largest landfill (and human made structure) in history, and while initially being involved with food and agriculture, he made a connection between the and chose to focus on the intersection of food and waste. His most notable contributions in this arena include the establishment of an organics diversion program in NYC, which served as a precursor to city-wide farmer’s market composting programs and foundation to municipal efforts to pilot similar programs. This endeavor was devised with the intention of increasing municipal diversion rates while simultaneously augmenting the city’s burgeoning urban agriculture sector. He is a graduate student of City and Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and an proud EREF Scholar.

Currently, he is conducting research on the role of the people in solid waste management  and residential waste in New York City.