With almost 29 years of experience in environmental research, development and management, Emily Dyson remains focused on alternative waste reduction strategies, waste management and strong, compliant environmental programs.
As the director of science, research and development for Chestnut Ridge, N.Y.-based BioHiTech Global and project manager for Entsorga West Virginia LLC, Dyson began working on the Entsorga West Virginia project seven years ago doing environmental and land use permitting.
Entsorga West Virginia LLC is a partnership among BioHiTech Global, Gold Medal Environmental and Entsorga. Its new state-of-the-art facility, located in Martinsburg, W.Va., is the first resource recovery facility in the U.S. that utilizes Entsorga Italia’s proprietary high-efficiency biological treatment (HEBioT) mechanical biological treatment (MBT) system.
“I’ve been privileged to provide environmental services in almost every sector of industry as well as government,” says Dyson. “I am most proud of the work that I am doing with BioHiTech and specifically with the Entsorga project. I truly believe that the HEBioT technology that we own the proprietary rights to in the Northeast is going to change waste management and turn waste into a valuable commodity. I am excited to see where we go with it. We are far from done in exploring technologies associated with landfill diversion.”
“By utilizing the HEBioT MBT system, Entsorga West Virginia will recover biomass, plastics and other carbon-based materials from the mixed municipal solid waste (MSW) stream and convert them into a safe alternative fuel source,” explains Dyson. “When collecting these sources of MSW, Entsorga West Virginia will remove other valuable recyclable commodities such as metals and glass from the HEBioT receiving stream and put them into the local municipality recycling stream.”
Waste360 recently sat down with Dyson to discuss her career in the waste and recycling industry and the future of technology within the field.
Waste360: How did you begin your career in the waste and recycling industry?
Emily Dyson: I’ve been in the environmental field for 29 years in various capacities. The early part of my career was focused on writing environmental impact statements and environmental assessments for the Department of Energy. Many of the projects dealt with the handling of radioactive and hazardous waste. These assessments covered everything from regulatory reviews, to environmental impacts, to social environmental justice and socioeconomic impacts of waste management.
My focus on waste management and alternate fuels started about 10 years ago, when I was providing environmental compliance and management services to the cement industry and providing environmental impact evaluation and permitting support to the commercial and industrial incinerator sector.
About seven years ago, I began working on the Entsorga West Virginia project doing the environmental and land use permitting. That is where I met Frank E. Celli, CEO of BioHiTech Global. Over time, and with the offer, it made sense to begin working for BioHiTech Global directly as the company had the vision that I connected with and a passion for results that felt I could assist with.
In the last four years, I’ve been working with BioHiTech evaluating the various technologies that we focus on that result in the diversion of waste from landfills.
Waste360: Describe your role as BioHiTech Global’s director of science, research and development and the project manager for Entsorga.
Emily Dyson: I am responsible for evaluating the microbiology and the environmental impacts to the wastewater industry from the effluent generated from the biodigesters. I am the primary contact for BioHiTech between customers and the wastewater industry, and I provide education to potential customers on the “science” of the digesters.
For Entsorga, I have been the project manager overseeing the permitting and construction of the facility. Now that we are up and running, I provide oversight of the commissioning activities and assistance in the daily operation due to my knowledge of the process.
Waste360: What do you consider your biggest achievement within the industry?
Emily Dyson: The completion of the construction and startup of the Entsorga West Virginia (EWV) project. I feel very confident that the EWV project is a game changer in the management of waste in the U.S. I’ve provided tours to hundreds of people—local citizens, municipalities, regulators, politicians and business entities interested in both bringing waste materials and potential offtake partners—and all have commented that this project is very exciting and has great potential to turn municipal solid waste into a valuable commodity as a fuel.
Waste360: What keeps you motivated in your work now and moving forward?
Emily Dyson: I strongly believe that we are here to be stewards of the planet we have been given. Every step I have made in my career has been about what I can do to further myself and others to be better stewards. I focus on education and implementation of solutions. Some days I feel really successful and other days I feel the struggle; it can be overwhelming when you read the climate change data that is coming out. I believe as individuals we can only do our part, and I feel like I am doing a very big part every day that we move forward with our landfill diversion technologies.
Waste360: In your opinion, what is the best technology or technological strategy for achieving zero waste?
Emily Dyson: There isn’t one technology that will achieve zero waste. I believe the BioHiTech Global strategy of offering organic waste diversion through the use of the EcoSafe and Revolution Series aerobic digesters, the operation of our materials recycling facility and the development of the HEBioT facilities makes us one of, if not the only, company in the U.S. that can offer a near zero waste solution. Each type of waste must be handled in a way that is economically and environmentally feasible, and the BioHiTech strategy does both.
Waste360: What is the future of technology as a whole within the industry?
Emily Dyson: Right now, we are seeing great advancement in data collection and management so that we can work smarter. We are also seeing advancement in automation technologies to reduce worker injuries and make waste management efficient and faster. I think those are critical, but I also see where companies like BioHiTech Global are looking at the science behind waste management and how we can use our knowledge to implement technologies that may already be implemented in other parts of the world and how they can be adapted to meet the U.S. needs.
Technologies like HEBioT and looking at beneficial uses of organics in the wastewater industry for the management of organic wastes are critical to furthering the waste management industry. Through education, I believe we can move these technologies into the forefront in the U.S.
Waste360: What advice do you have for someone who is looking for a career in the waste and recycling industry?
Emily Dyson: An understanding of the entire process, from waste generation, to traditional disposal methods, to evaluation of alternative fuels and alternative disposal methods. That's necessary to understand where we have been and what can be leveraged for improvement. Also, an individual today needs to think bigger than what has been done. The technologies that are going to work are the ones that are different and may require some real effort with regulatory agencies to educate and help people to see the benefits.
Waste360: What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?
Emily Dyson: My husband and I are recent empty nesters, so remembering how to have fun without kids has been really exciting. I love kayaking, walking and being in the outdoors as much as possible.