The final day of the Solid Waste Association of North America’s (SWANA) annual WASTECON conference was filled with more education sessions with a focus on safety, recycling, anaerobic digestion, EPR, organics and global waste trends. In addition to the education sessions, attendees had access to an exam center and MOLO Bootcamp participants had a chance to take a certification exam.
Here are some final takeaways from WASTECON 2016:
1. In the “Building a Positive Safety Culture: Discussion and an Example of Success” safety summit session, Don Stark of National Interstate Insurance and Steve Maurer of the South Central Solid Waste Authority, New Mexico, led a discussion on what is meant by safety culture, how organizations can ensure that safety is a priority and a variety of adaptable safety program activities. Here are a few notes from the session:
- Safety culture is defined as the values, beliefs, perceptions and normal behaviors that are shaped by management and employees.
- Safety culture is way more than well-written policies and procedures, holding regular safety meetings, sending out safety messages on QUALCOMM, putting up safety posters in the drivers’ room and telling employees to “have a safe day” or “be careful out there.”
- A strong safety culture has the single greatest impact on reducing losses, lower injury and vehicle accident rates, less employee turnover, lower absenteeism, higher productivity and lower insurance costs.
- The ultimate goal of improving safety culture is to move your safety culture from reactive to dependent, independent and finally interdependent.
- Employees do not take responsibility for safety.
- Safety is viewed as a matter of luck.
- Accidents will happen, and they usually do.
- The safety manager has sole responsibility.
- Compliance is the goal.
- Safety is a matter of following a bunch of rules that management created.
- Management thinks accidents will decline if everybody follows the rules.
- There is a fear of discipline.
- Incidents increase.
- Employees take responsibility for themselves.
- Safety is personal, and employees can present accidents with their own actions.
- Individual recognition.
- Incidents decrease further.
- Teams of employees feel ownership of safety.
- Employees take responsibility for themselves and others.
- Low safety standards and risk taking is not tolerated.
- True safety improvement can only be achieved as a group.
- Having no incidents is possible.
- Active communication.
10 Steps to building a safety culture
- Upper management commitment and involvement.
- Hire the right people.
- Effective orientation/recurrent training/knowledge testing.
- Employee participation.
- Two way communication between employees and management.
- Hazard identification and remediation.
- Recognize safe behavior.
- Don’t ignore the near misses. Use them as teaching tools to raise awareness for the employees.
- Build trust. Open communication with your employees.
- Frontline supervision.
2. During the “North American EPR Update: Exploring the U.S. and Canada” session, Kate Kitchener of the Product Stewardship Institute and the City of New York Department of Sanitation spoke on the current status of the product stewardship movement in the U.S. and Canada and how EPR fits into the concept of a circular economy. Here are some key quotes from the session:
“Since 2000, the number of EPR laws has been growing very rapidly,” says Kitchener.
“In the U.S. there are currently three mattress EPR laws, 11 battery EPR laws and nine paint EPR laws,” comments Kitchener.
“There is still a strong need for sustainable funding for pharmaceuticals,” says Kitchener.
“Since Jan. 1 2015, New York City has collected more than 5 million lbs. of e-waste,” comments Kitchener.
“About 29 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from the products that we use,” states Kitchener.
3. Inez Hua and Michael Mashtare of Purdue University spoke about some of the options that the next generation of waste management professionals can have at Purdue University. With the Environmental and Ecological Engineering career track, students focus their research around two major themes: modern environmental engineering and sustainable industrial systems. Students can also take waste-specific classes, such as Soil and Hazardous Waste Management and Recovering Value from Solid Waste.
For a project this year, students evaluated plastic water bottles in Flint, Mich. Students identified up to 10 bottled water donations (who, how much and compiled) and found out what waste was generated by the donations. From there, they sent their report and finding to the recycling and composting coordinator in Lansing, Mich.
4. Conference attendees and exhibitors embraced their inner child by competing in the WASTECON 500 Tricycle Race on Thursday before the show officially ended.