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Muni Roundtable: Municipal Recycling Issues

Episode 42: A municipal roundtable discussion from WasteExpo 2019.

In the latest episode of our NothingWasted! Podcast, you will hear a dynamic session from WasteExpo 2019: “Muni Roundtable: Municipal Recycling Issues.”

The discussion features: Mark Bowers, solid waste programs division manager for the city of Sunnyvale, Calif., Department of Public Works; Michael McCoy, executive director of the Iowa Metro Waste Authority; and Waneta Trabert, director of the Sustainable Materials Management Division for the city of Newton, Mass., Department of Public Works.

Here’s a sneak peek into the speakers’ insights and challenges they are facing:

Michael McCoy: My encouragement is to be more market oriented. Don’t just take somebody’s word for what’s happening with your stuff. Go visit the plant that consumes it, if it’s on the continent anyway. At least seeing how your stuff is processed and the issues from the end users’ eyes is helpful.

Waneta Trabert: In my community, there’s a lot of room for improvement to divert more materials out of the waste stream, particularly organics. In Massachusetts right now, it is a difficult challenge. There’s difficulty in getting the funding and the political will for the funding. We did a very small pilot last year with some grant funding but haven’t received any grant funding to scale that up. So, this is one of our main focuses right now. 

Mark Bowers: I think our job is to meet the consensus demands of the community in which we work. You’ve got to have a community consensus on what is the acceptable and desirable level of effort you’re going to put into keeping stuff out of the landfill. People sometimes say to me, “Wouldn’t it be cheaper to put everything in one truck and haul it to the dump?” Yes, it would be, but the citizens would march on City Hall with pitchforks and torches because that’s not what they want to see happen.            


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