McGarvey develops minimum-cost strategy model for solid waste collection

Ronald McGarvey

As of 2014, the University of Missouri paid the City of Columbia approximately $410,000 annually to collect solid waste from campus locations. MU was concerned that it was potentially paying more than necessary, in part due to its large number of waste collection points.

Seeing an opportunity for cross-campus collaboration, Dr. Ronald McGarvey, an assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering and of public affairs in the MU College of Engineering and Truman School of Public Affairs, partnered with MU Campus Facilities for new research to identify a minimum-cost strategy for the University’s waste collection.

As the basis for analysis, McGarvey, along with former graduate student Maryam Nikouei Mehr, asked questions including (1) where should the waste collection points be located?; (2) what types and sizes of receptacles should be used at each waste collection point?; and (3) for each receptacle, what should be its frequency of service? The researchers then developed a mathematical programming model to minimize the costs that a purchaser pays to a waste management provider, subject to a level of service that is sufficient to collect all of the purchaser’s waste and accounting for uncertainty in the daily amount of waste generation.

The study, “Planning solid waste collection with robust optimization: Location-allocation, receptacle type, and service frequency,” was published in Advances in Operations Research (2017).