EREF’s Scholarship Program


Scholarships are awarded by EREF to recognize excellence in master’s and doctoral waste management research and education. Scholarships provide a monthly stipend from the time of the award until the student graduates. While on scholarship, students are required to work on projects related to solid waste issues. During a scholar’s tenure, EREF staff will work with scholars to integrate them into industry events such as conferences and fundraisers and facilitate visits to companies in the industry.

EREF’s scholarship program ensures that the next generation of the waste industry will have the knowledge and expertise needed to be successful.”
-Daniel J. Clark, Evergreen National Indemnity Company

Eligibility Requirements

You may apply for an EREF Scholarship if you meet all the following criteria: 

  • You are or will be this year a full-time master’s or doctoral student in a degree program 
  • You have a clearly demonstrated interest in solid waste management research and/or sustainability. EREF defines solid waste management to pertain to municipal solid waste, construction & demolition waste, industrial waste (e.g. coal ash), WTE ash, etc. Note this definition does not include agricultural wastes or wastewater treatment plant sludge. 
  • Your academic interests relate to EREF’s strategic priorities
  • You have at least one more year of study remaining

Applications are accepted from students across the globe and from non-citizens. All applications receive equal consideration provided they meet the above criteria.
Scholarships recognize graduate students pursuing excellence in solid waste management research and education. Recipients are chosen based on credentials and potential contributions to the solid waste industry and its scientific community.  

Click here to view application details and apply. 

Awards Are Based On…

  • Quality of Applicant  
    • academic performance and/or relevant industry experience
  • Potential for success 
    • commitment to waste management 
    • future potential in academia, industry, or government in a position related to waste management and/or sustainability
  • Quality of the Proposal 
    • relevance of one’s work to the advancement of solid waste management science 
    • strength of project objectives, methodology 
    • project novelty and innovation
  • Relevance to EREF’s Mission and Strategic Priorities

Scholarship Range

Award amounts consider the cost of tuition at the recipient’s institution and any other funds received. Full scholarships may not be awarded to students who will be receiving full-tuition scholarships from other sources (excluding direct university assistance such as tuition remission, or assistantship income) but may still be considered for partial awards.

Doctoral scholarships are awarded up to $15,000 per year, paid monthly, and can be extended for up to 3 years from the initial award date. Master’s scholarships are awarded up to $7,500 per year and can be extended for up to 2 years from the initial award date. Scholarship renewal is dependent upon satisfactory progress as determined by the student’s academic advisor.


Carl J. Apicella Scholarship

Carl Apicella is a strong supporter of EREF and is very active in EREF’s fundraisers.  Carl is President and founder of Continuum Environmental Services Ltd. and was formerly a founder and President of American Environmental Group, Ltd., both specialty environmental services companies focusing on the solid waste and landfill industry.  His 30-year career also includes working as a consultant for Browning Ferris Industries (BFI) operating and managing solid waste landfills.

Detachable Container Association Scholarship

The Detachable Container Association (DCA) was founded in 1954.  The first meeting consisted of a group of six men in the waste hauling industry who began discussing the idea of forming an association to improve techniques in waste collection, in particular, by using detachable containers.  DCA’s primary mission is to promote education and establish ways to improve the waste industry and the productivity of its members.  DCA is noted for advancing modern containerized collection and helping to facilitate numerous innovations and developments in the waste industry.

Many of the members of DCA have served on the EREF Board of Directors and in many capacities within the National Waste & Recycling Association, providing leadership and valuable experience to the waste industry.  The membership of DCA in establishing this scholarship desires to fulfill a portion of its mission by furthering opportunities and research in the waste industry.

Evergreen Surety Bond Scholarship

Founded specifically to serve the needs of the waste industry and contractors who need payment and performance bonds, Evergreen National Indemnity Company (Evergreen) has become an industry leader in surety bonds. Evergreen was one of the first firms to tackle the requirements of Subtitle D and is frequently called upon to give recommendations to regulators and rating agencies on surety issues.

Fiessinger Doctoral Scholarship

Francois Fiessinger dedicated his professional life to furthering international research and technology development efforts in the areas of waste and water management. Francois was one of the founders of EREF in 1994. He served on the Board of Directors from its inception until he passed away in 1997. Francois was a visionary who believed in science and engineering as vehicles for improving the quality of our environment and our lives.

In 1997, based on a contribution from Lyonnaise des Eaux, the Francois Fiessinger Memorial Scholarship Fund was established to recognize excellence in Ph.D. environmental research and education.

Garbageman’s Invitational Scholarship

The Garbageman’s Invitational (GMI) was founded in 2010 by Kerry Holmes (Vice President of Sales, Consolidated Fabricators), Mike Melideo (Owner, Consolidated Fabricators) and Ray Burke (Vice President, Clean Energy). These three men set out to create a unique annual networking event for their customers and prospects in the solid waste and recycling industry throughout the United States and Canada.

The sponsors of the Garbageman’s Invitational felt strongly that there should be an element of “giving back” to the industry. “As the leader in solid waste research and education, EREF was an easy choice as the charity to benefit from the event,” said Kerry Holmes. “EREF, with its presence throughout North America, is well aligned with the Garbageman’s Invitational’s goal to attract more industry leaders throughout the United States and Canada.”

100% of any donations made to EREF through the Garbageman’s Invitational will fund graduate students pursuing excellence in solid waste management research and education.

Reinhart Master’s Scholarship

Debbie Reinhart, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE is a Pegasus Professor Emeritus at the University of Central Florida. From 2011-2013 she served as the Environmental Engineering Program Manager at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. She received her graduate degrees in Environmental Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to joining UCF, she served as a consulting engineer for companies in Atlanta and was chief of the research & development division of the Bureau of Pollution Control in that city. She is currently a member of EREF’s Board of Directors and Research Council.

Debbie has contributed to the advancement of environmental engineering and science professions through her service to professional organizations, higher education, and mentorship. She has been particularly effective at mentoring under-represented engineering scholars. Debbie is most known for her work with bioreactor landfills which produced operational, monitoring, and design information, as well as the first text on the topic. The Reinhart Master’s Scholarship is aimed at funding female environmental engineering students.
“This scholarship was created by me and my husband Richard to encourage women to pursue engineering careers in the waste industry. I remember how much similar awards meant to me as an under-represented engineering student when I was in college.”

                                                  -Debra Reinhart

Robert J. Riethmiller/PTR Baler and Compactor Scholarship

Robert J. Riethmiller, Chairman of PTR Baler and Compactor, served on the EREF Board as the Chairman of the Scholarship Committee. Riethmiller’s grandfather, also Bob Riethmiller, began working for PTR in 1911, and purchased it in 1929; since then, it has been a family-run business. PTR is a fourth-generation, family-owned company that manufactures, installs, and services balers and compactors in all 50 states and sells internationally. Now retired, Riethmiller worked in the waste industry for over 50 years. Michael Savage, the President and CEO of PTR Baler and Compactor, states that “PTR’s longstanding support of EREF comes from the belief that it is critical to invest in scholars who will make a difference in the environment and their communities.”

Robert P. Stearns/SCS Engineers Master’s Scholarship

Robert P. Stearns, Chairman and CoFounder of SCS Engineers, joined the EREF Board of Directors in 1999 and served as Chairman from 2004–2005. At SCS, he directed or served in a review capacity on many of the firm’s solid waste management-related projects. Under his leadership, SCS grew to more than 500 employees located in 9 regional offices throughout the United States.

Following his retirement in 2006, Bob continued as SCS Chairman of the Board focusing on strategic planning and acquisitions. In 2007 EREF awarded the first Robert P. Stearns/SCS Engineers Master’s Scholarship, which was established to expand EREF’s successful doctoral-level scholarship program.

Tom J. Fatjo Jr. Scholarship

Tom Joseph Fatjo, Jr. was a true visionary. He was the ultimate optimist and believed there was nothing that could not be accomplished. His charismatic personality and positive attitude became a foundation for his ability to attract, develop and lead his business partners. His honesty and integrity were hallmarks of who he was. Early in his career, he came across a challenge to improve waste collection in his neighborhood. Tom embraced this challenge which led to the creation of Browning-Ferris Industries. After exploring other fields, Tom returned to his roots in the waste business in 1990 and over the next 10 years founded Republic Waste, TransAmerican Waste and Waste Corporation of America. Tom is a true “pioneer and founder of the modern-day solid waste industry.” An EREF scholarship honoring Tom Fatjo has been established.

Waste Industries Scholarship Honoring Lonnie C. Poole Jr.

Lonnie C. Poole, Jr., one of EREF’s founders and currently a Director Emeritus, is the founder of Raleigh-based Waste Industries USA, Inc. Lonnie, who grew up on a farm in North Carolina, was the first in his family to attend college. After graduating with a B.S. in Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University, he served as a pilot in the U.S. Army for three years and then returned home to earn his MBA at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He then found success in the business world, excelling as both a sales manager and an engineer. In 1970 Lonnie founded Waste Industries, a non-hazardous solid waste services company, which now serves more than 1.25 million customers across five states.

EREF Scholarship

As part of its mission, EREF furthers education in the solid waste management industry.  In the past, multiple outstanding candidates have applied for the named scholarships in the same year, prompting EREF to periodically utilize foundation funds to award additional scholarships.  EREF now regularly awards Master’s and Ph.D. scholarships to notable candidates, expanding the scholarship program in an effort to foster the promising futures of deserving and exceptional students.

Questions? Please send an e-mail to or call 919.861.6876, Ext. 111