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Rubicon Institute

Tackling new frontiers of waste

From Rural America to Outer Space

Rubicon is on a mission to end waste. Even in global recessions and pandemics, from rural America to urban America, from the phone in your hand to the satellites in space—new waste is always being produced. The Rubicon Institute is dedicated to advancing innovative policy solutions that support ending waste, with particular focus on four areas: Space Waste, Waste as a National Security Issue, Rural Waste, and Urban Waste.

Outer Space

Space Waste

Space waste is both a practical and symbolic issue. Practically, low-orbit space debris poses a threat to the thousands of active satellites that are critical to our global economy, not to mention the International Space Station, which has had to maneuver around space waste dozens of times since its launch. Symbolically, space waste highlights the failed approach to disposing of or reusing the waste that we currently leave behind in space.


Waste as a National Security Issue

According to the United Nations, approximately 50 million tons of electronic waste are produced each year. Electronic waste, if poorly handled, can contribute to the rise of identity theft and economic crime, not to mention security lapses. Additionally, the U.S. military has found that it has purchased equipment that included recycled electronics—a risk of immense proportions.

Rural America

Rural Waste

Rural America will always be the heart of our nation. Unfortunately, rural America is also a dumping ground for much of our trash. Without economic incentive to clean up the garbage, the problem will not end. The abundance of waste is one of the key struggles in generating economic development in rural America.


Urban Waste

American cities have been the birthplaces of many of America’s greatest innovations. Solving food waste should be next. Farmers and producers thankfully make more than enough food for our planet, but billions of dollars’ worth of food ends up in landfills each year.