PROFILE: Safris Stresses Education

Formerly an environmental specialist, Sharon Safris has been promoted to waste management coordinator for Metro Waste Authority (MWA), Des Moines, Iowa. Her re-sponsibilities include overseeing waste reduction programs in the areas of construction and demolition (C&D) debris management, commercial composting, residential recycling, business recycling and special projects.

WW: What are the key elements of a successful waste reduction program?

SS: The most important element is education. We try to ensure that all of those participating in our waste reduction programs understand what is in-volved. Also, a clearly de-fined objective is necessary. This in- cludes being aware of the key waste streams and their final destination.

WW: Briefly describe some of MWA's programs.

SS: Approximately 18 months a-go, we started a C&D program to teach contractors, builders and ar-chitects how to incorporate waste reduction into their building plans. We've helped C&D projects to identify efficient ways of collecting recyclable materials and how to get them to the end markets. Typically, we're recycling materials such as wood, metal and cardboard.

On the residential end, our key program is called Curb It. This one-year-old, weekly program services 110,000 households, We provide 18-gallon bins to the residents and have approximately 75 percent monthly participation.

Our residential scrap tire program, a special project, allows residents to bring 10 scrap tires to be processed for free. The tires can be any size, on or off the rim, so it's convenient for the participants. We sponsor this program every year in conjunction with the community cleanup program.

Also, MWA is planning to implement a mixed waste composting research and development project. We will oversee MWA's efforts to develop an infrastructure for mixed waste collection. So far, those efforts have included informally surveying businesses that are generating this waste.

WW: How much solid waste is being recovered and what is the goal?

SS: Currently, our landfill takes in about 400,000 tons per year. The state has mandated a 50 percent waste reduction by the year 2000 and, right now, we have achieved approximately 35 percent reduction.

WW: How is MWA involved in developing recyclables markets?

SS: Actually, our closest contact is the Recycling Economic Devel-opment Advocate (REDA). With a 17-month grant, our REDA representative promotes the use of secondary materials in new product manufacturing throughout Iowa. She works with many different businesses to identify what types of materials they can use. In addition, she gets information out na-tionwide to attract new companies to this area that also can use secondary materials.

WW: How will MWA's recycling programs develop in the future?

SS: Through the year 2000, we will be focusing on the commercial/industrial sector because that's where 70 percent of our waste is generated. Currently, we provide several free, confidential services to businesses through our Waste Options program, including waste assessments, waste sorts and exchanges, technical/recycling recommendations and advice on regulatory compliance issues. Our team targets specific industries to begin waste reduction and recycling programs through on-site visits, phone calls, newsletters, advertising and mailings.