YEARS AGO, LANDFILLS WERE A BIG PR problem for the solid waste industry. With only a minimal amount of federal oversight of the facilities in place, the public was justifiably concerned about the very real threats to groundwater and air that far too many sites posed. Then, in 1976, the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act was passed, and, over the years, regulations were put in place that transformed landfills from, in the words of a new white paper by the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), “little more than holes in the ground to highly engineered, state-of-the-art containment systems requiring large capital expenditures.”

NSWMA's white paper, titled “Modern Landfills: A Far Cry from the Past,” contains a detailed look at the history of landfills and the vast environmental improvements such facilities have made in recent decades. Alice Jacobsohn, director of public affairs and industry research at NSWMA, says the paper was prepared for the benefit of both those in the industry and the public.

When you think about it, landfills arguably are responsible for most of the negative images that the solid waste industry has today. People like the recycling services offered by both public and private haulers, and they appreciate the fact that someone appears regularly to take away their trash. However, because of landfills' less-than-stellar past, a lingering distrust of the facilities remains.

The new paper by NSWMA provides landfill owners and operators with a handy way to educate both their neighbors and local officials about the numerous environmental safeguards that sites now have in place. A copy of the paper is available at NSWMA's Web site ( or by calling (800) 424-2869 or e-mailing

  • Just as the industry and landfills change, so does Waste Age. In recent months, we have welcomed two new staff members. Jennifer Grzeskowiak is our new managing editor. She came to Waste Age after a distinguished tenure as associate editor of American City & County, our sister publication. Before joining Prism Business Media, she worked in Morgan Keegan's equity research department, helping to produce stock reports. She manages our monthly production process and produces our Tip Off news section.

Steven Averett is our new associate editor. His primary responsibility is overseeing the Trends section. He joins Waste Age after three years of writing for Industrial Engineer magazine, where he won an award from the Magazine Association of the Southeast for best feature.

I encourage you to stop by our magazine's booth during WasteExpo and introduce yourself to our new staff members. We look forward to seeing you.