Rumpke’s history dates back to the1930s when founder William F. Rumpke ran a junkyard and coal delivery business in Cincinnati. His customers often bartered sheep, chickens and 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 (who is currently 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.
Recycling metal became popular during World War II. William established one of southwestern Ohio’s first recycling operations in 1941. The trucks dumped the waste into a pit and it was loaded onto a conveyor belt. Workers sorted tin and aluminum, which was baled and sold for about $40 per ton, or rags and items that could be reused. The remaining material was food scraps for the animals.
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. The Township was only 10 miles north of Cincinnati but was rural at the time. This site would later become the Rumpke Corporate Headquarters and Rumpke Sanitary Landfill.
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 that changed the course of the family business. The new law required food waste to be cooked before it was fed to livestock. Since locals were used to weekly Rumpke collection, Rumpke sold the animals and concentrated on collection and disposal of trash.
William J. Rumpke (current President Emeritus) and 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, Ohio, while in their teens, quickly growing it to 2,500 customers. In 1965, they created Rumpke Container Services.
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.
By the 1980s, William J. Rumpke (current President and CEO) and Thomas Rumpke had purchased Rumpke Inc. from their fathers and were 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, Ind., and Georgetown, Ohio. By 1984, Rumpke had also begun operations in Greenville, Ohio, and Columbus, Ind. Rumpke opened a Dayton, Ohio, 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, this operation has grown to include more than 200 gas wells that recover enough natural gas energy for up to 25,000 homes in the Cincinnati area.
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, Ohio. Today, Rumpke offers its portable restroom services throughout Greater Cincinnati as well as Dayton and Columbus, Ohio, 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, Ohio.
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, Ohio, Louisville and Ashland, Ky. and Indianapolis. The facilities met a critical demand for communities seeking to divert material from landfills.
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, Ohio, in 1993. Rumpke also began operating two municipal landfills in Hardin County, Ky., and Bartholomew County, Ind.
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, Ind.
While Rumpke scaled back its operations in Missouri and Illinois, during the 2000s the company saw tremendous growth in Ohio, with some of the largest acquisitions in the company’s history occurring in 2008.
Today, with Bill Rumpke Jr. as president and CEO, the company continues to grow and look for new and innovative ways for dealing with the region's waste stream. As the fourth generation of Rumpkes joins the family business, the company continues to flourish.
Honors & Awards
Rumpke has been recognized for a variety of honors and awards throughout its history. Click here to view a list.