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The Story Of Rumpke Waste And Recycling The Rumpke Family At A Groundbreaking Ceremony

Our Story

Rumpke Waste & Recycling is a family owned and operated business. Headquartered in Colerain Township near Cincinnati, Rumpke’s team of nearly 4,000 employees provide safe and reliable waste and recycling solutions for millions of customers throughout Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia.

Rumpke was founded in 1932 by William F. Rumpke, who ran a junkyard and coal delivery business in Cincinnati. His customers often bartered sheep, chickens, old cars and trucks as payment for his services.  One day, he was paid with six young pigs.

William fixed up some old trucks from the junkyard and enlisted relatives to search for garbage to feed the pigs. William J. Rumpke (current President Emeritus and chairman of the board for Rumpke Waste & Recycling) was only five years old when he began helping his father collect trash from homes and businesses. 

Early Recycling

Recycling metal became popular during World War II. William established one of southwestern Ohio’s first recycling operations in 1941. Rumpke trucks dumped waste into a pit, and it was loaded onto a conveyor belt. Workers sorted rags, tin and aluminum.


By 1945, the growing Rumpke business needed a new home. William moved his hog farm, recycling and junk yard business to an 80-acre property in Colerain Township, where the company also started its first landfill at the site. The Township was only 10 miles north of Cincinnati but was rural at the time.

Growth On the Horizon

In 1947, William brought his youngest brother, Bernard, on board as partner. Together, they worked to grow the trash collection business by finding new customers and markets.

From Farm to Landfill

The Rumpke family business flourished in the 1950s. Many evenings were spent at municipal council meetings securing trash contracts for communities in the Cincinnati area. In 1955, a new law was passed introducing new farming requirements and changing the course of the Rumpke family business. Since locals depended on the Rumpke Family for weekly trash collection, Rumpke refocused its business away from farming and toward trash collection and disposal.

New Leadership

William J. Rumpke Sr. (current President Emeritus) and the late Thomas Rumpke (son of Bernard Rumpke) were best friends and forged a business partnership to grow their family business. They started their own route in Delhi Township, OH, while in their teens, quickly growing it to 2,500 customers. In 1965, they created Rumpke Container Services. At the time, designing waste service options for commercial customers was new, and Rumpke was among the first to introduce the concept of larger, commercial waste containers for business locations.

Focus on Environment

The Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970. Soon after, Rumpke Sanitary Landfill emerged, as well as an expanded engineering and environmental affairs team to focus on complete compliance and Rumpke’s continued environmental innovations. Rumpke was among a select group of firms invited to collaborate with the Ohio EPA to develop best practices for landfill construction and management.

Growth Spurt

By the 1980s, William J. Rumpke (current President Emeritus) and the late Thomas Rumpke had purchased Rumpke Inc. from their fathers and embarked on an acquisition spree, buying out more than 200 companies. These purchases included landfills that Rumpke continues to operate today in Butler and Mt. Sterling, KY, Medora, IN, and Georgetown, OH. By 1984, Rumpke had also begun operations in Greenville, OH, and Columbus, IN. Rumpke opened a Dayton, OH, office in 1987.

New Discoveries and Technologies

In 1986, Rumpke Sanitary Landfill became one of the first landfills to recover methane gas and use it as natural gas energy. Over the years, the operation grew to include more than 200 gas wells that recovered natural gas energy for more than 27,000 homes in Colerain Township.

New Services

As Rumpke’s fleet grew, so did the need for reliable maintenance. In 1987, Rumpke Hydraulics was created with two employees. Also that year, Rumpke purchased a portable toilet business in Georgetown, OH. Today, Rumpke offers its portable restroom rental services throughout Greater Cincinnati as well as Dayton and Louisville, KY.

Solid Waste Districts and Recycling

Ohio House Bill 592 was signed into law in 1988, establishing solid waste management districts funded in part by landfill disposal or “tipping” fees. Although Rumpke had a long history of recovering materials for recycling, Rumpke Recycling was officially developed in 1989 with the purchase of a large recycling operation in Circleville, OH.

Rumpke Recycling

The 1990s were a hectic but exciting time for Rumpke Recycling. The company opened its second recycling facility in Cincinnati in 1991. Over the next few years, Rumpke opened dual-stream (paper and containers) material recovery facilities in Columbus and Dayton, OH, and Louisville, KY. The facilities met a critical demand for communities seeking to divert material from landfills.

Landfill Technology

In 1991, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced landfill regulations to govern the siting, design and construction of municipal solid waste landfills. These regulations would require Rumpke’s landfills to implement an engineered liner system and groundwater monitoring. While many private companies sold off their businesses, Rumpke forged ahead even opening the Beech Hollow Landfill in Wellston, OH, in 1993. Rumpke also began operating two municipal landfills in Hardin County, KY, and Bartholomew County, IN.

Expanding Markets

While Rumpke continued to densify its Ohio operations, gaining municipal contracts and securing new commercial accounts in the Columbus area, in 1994, Rumpke won a recycling contract for Louisville, KY, and began operations there, moving from Clarksville, IN.

Industry Awards

A new decade brought several awards and continued evolution. The Environmental Industry Association inducted company founders William F. Rumpke and Bernard J. Rumpke into the waste industry Hall of Fame in 2000. 

This decade marked the beginning of annual National Waste & Recycling Association acknowledgement for Rumpke drivers. In the years that followed, countless Rumpke drivers were named Driver of the Year for safe driving and exceptional customer service. 

Nationwide Presence

By 2003, company revenues topped $269 million. In an attempt to get large chain businesses, Rumpke introduced a new company, The William-Thomas Group. A business focused on bidding and consolidating services for commercial customers with locations throughout the country. 

Becoming Ohio’s Recycling Leader

In the early 2000s, Rumpke was updating its recycling technology once again, introducing equipment that allowed residents and businesses to mix all their recycling together in one container. It was the dawn of single stream recycling. 

With single stream recycling, Rumpke was able to start picking up recycling with traditional rear load trucks. Although the switch made for more efficient hauling, glass bottles and jars were crushed and broken in the trucks and at the recycling centers. Undeterred, Rumpke developed its own one of a kind glass processing facility in Dayton, OH providing a steady flow of raw materials for the insulation and container industries. 

Innovation & Growth

Throughout the decade, millions of dollars were invested to add new equipment, acquire new business and build more infrastructure. Expansion permits were obtained for landfill growth at Rumpke’s Medora, Indiana, Brown County, OH, Mt. Sterling, Kentucky landfills, along with Rumpke Sanitary Landfill in Colerain Township. 

Rumpke partnered with Eastern Kentucky Power Cooperative in 2005, to convert landfill gas at its Butler, KY landfill into electricity for area homeowners. About 2,000 homes receive their power from the landfill. 

In 2009, Rumpke completed its largest acquisition to date, which included northern Ohio facilities such as the Noble Road Landfill in Mansfield, OH, the Mansfield transfer and recycling facility and the Newburgh Heights operations in Cleveland, OH. 

Meanwhile in Cincinnati, Rumpke invested about $7 million to construct a vehicle maintenance center, employee training room and customer service call center. 

In 2011, Rumpke also invested about $12 million to renovate its Columbus, Ohio recycling facility. The upgrade included Rumpke’s first Machinex processing system, providing a necessary framework for future Rumpke Recycling renovations. 

The evening of April 10, 2012, tragedy struck, as Rumpke Recycling Cincinnati, the company’s largest material recovery facility, caught fire. The facility was a total loss. Using other recycling facilities, Rumpke maintained service without interruption. 

During the 18-months that followed, Cincinnati recycling facility fire, Rumpke researched the best, most efficient and advanced technology in the world at the time and incorporated it into a new $32 million recycling facility. The facility reopened November 2013 and could process up to 65 tons of material every hour. 

As 2014 got underway, company leadership evolved. William Rumpke Jr. was promoted from Chief Operating Officer to President & Chief Executive Officer. Bill Sr. became President Emeritus. 

The year 2017, brought enormous growth. Rumpke invested nearly $2 million to build Rumpke’s Columbus, OH administrative offices. New equipment garages were built at Dayton, OH hauling, Pike Sanitation Landfill in Waverly, OH and at the Butler, Kentucky Landfill. Rumpke constructed a 4.8 mega-watt power plant at its Brown County, Ohio Landfill. The plant converted landfill gas into energy for thousands of residents in Georgetown and Yellow Springs, OH, as well as Williamstown, KY. 

In 2017, Rumpke broke ground on its $24 million, new corporate headquarters in Colerain Township, OH. The 74,000 square foot facility became home for approximately 200 Rumpke team members by late 2018.

In early 2022, Rumpke announced major plans for a new recycling resource center in Columbus, OH, scheduled to open in 2024. 

Today, the Better Business Bureau recognizes Rumpke with an A+ rating. Rumpke was also named a U.S. Best Managed Company for three consecutive years by Deloitte Private and The Wall Street Journal. 

Ready to Get Started?

Whatever your waste and recycling needs, Rumpke can help! Contact us today to start enjoying friendly, reliable service from an industry leader.