MANAGEMENT: MSW Manager Certification Is On The Rise

An increasing number of states are implementing solid waste manager training and certification programs to ensure that facilities are run by qualified individuals, according to the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Md.

To date, little data exists on the states' current and future plans for certification requirements for municipal solid waste (MSW) professionals. To determine the status of these programs, SWANA surveyed all 50 states.

Based on responses from 47 states, the types of certification programs vary greatly, with 57 percent of the respondents indicating that they had some type of program addressing MSW management professionals (see map). For example, state programs have been designed for facility managers, operators and inspectors. In addition, 40 percent said that they plan to initiate a new certification program or expand an existing one.

The lion's share of the programs are directed at managers responsible for the day-to-day operations of MSW facilities. Of the 27 states with standards, the following percentages require certification in the following disciplines: * Landfill managers and/or landfill inspectors (85 percent);

* Solid waste incinerator managers (33 percent);

* Transfer station managers (26 percent);

* Compost facility managers (22 percent);

* Processing facility managers (22 percent); and

* Recycling managers (7 percent).

Many of the states have multiple requirements.

True to its reputation of staying off the beaten path, California takes a different approach to certification. Rather than certifying individual MSW management professionals, the state's local enforcement agencies (LEA) are certified to permit and enforce MSW management programs. LEA certification is based on the staff's technical expertise, the adequacy of staff and budget resources and staff training. Once these criteria are evaluated, LEAs are given varying degrees of responsibility to administer the MSW management program. Although many states grant local government units (LGU) the power to administer these programs, it's rare to certify LGUs.

State methods vary for determining whether an individual is competent to operate a MSW management facility. For example, of the states that require landfill manager/inspector certification, 87 percent require a training course and 83 percent require an examination prior to certification. In addition, 65 percent evaluate prior work experience as a qualification for certification. Nearly three-quarters require continuing education credits as a condition of re-certification.

As this study indicates, training and certification of MSW management professionals is on the rise. For its part, SWANA currently offers 10 MSW manager training courses, with four of those offering certification opportunities.

For more information or a copy of the survey, contact: Chris Voell, SWANA, P.O. Box 7219, Silver Spring, Md. 20910. (301) 585-2898.