Rob Watson, who founded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard, began developing a new standard that aims to push the solid waste industry toward sustainability.
The Solid Waste Environmental Excellence Protocol (SWEEP) is a market transformation standard that will identify and reward public and private sector leaders in sustainable materials management, similar to what LEED did for buildings.
SWEEP will evaluate the comprehensive environmental, economic and social performance of municipal solid waste programs (Municipal Standard) as well as a complementary standard geared toward the private sector companies implementing and supporting these programs (Industry Standard).
SWEEP has recently opened its Municipal Standard for public comment. The standard consists of six performance categories:
- Municipal Sustainable Management Policies
- Municipal Waste Generation & Prevention
- Solid Waste Collection
- Post Collection Recovery
- Post Collection Disposal
These categories are designed to comprehensively address sustainable waste management from intention (policy) through to implementation and verification (data collection). Projects that successfully complete the prerequisites and the required number of points for each level become certified.
SWEEP is currently accepting public comments on its Public Comment Draft of the Municipal Standard through February. On February 12, SWEEP will hold a national public information meeting in Washington, D.C., at the George Washington University from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET.
Comments received through the website and the public information meeting will be reviewed by SWEEP committees and adopted for inclusion in the ballot draft of the SWEEP Municipal Standard, if persuasive. In parallel, SWEEP is soliciting participants in the National Consensus Committee (NCC) that will be voting on the contents of the standard and whether to approve releasing it for the pilot phase.
At least 30 days after the public information meeting, SWEEP will hold a National Consensus meeting that will kick off a 30-day voting period when NCC members will comment and vote on the Municipal Standard. A parallel process for the SWEEP Industry Standard will be launched by March.
Once approved by the NCC, the national consensus SWEEP 1.0 Pilot Standard will be tested in up to 30 municipalities and waste management companies for 12 to 18 months and modifications will be made to the standard based on this experience.
SWEEP is seeking statements of interest for the pilot program from municipalities (small, medium and large) and waste management companies, ranging from haulers and individual materials recovery facilities operators to vertically integrated companies.