The State of SWANA
John H. Skinner, Ph.D., Executive Director and CEO
As we embark on the New Year, I am pleased to report that the state of SWANA is strong and 2013 represented another very successful year for SWANA and its members. Our training, education and certification programs continued to expand. Our Chapters and Technical Divisions continued to provide high quality, innovative conferences and symposia, including WASTECON® in Long Beach, California. Our legislative and regulatory advocacy program continued to set forth SWANA’s position on major solid waste legislation and regulation. The Training Investment Fund and Applied Research Foundation continued to deliver new courses and technical reports. Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 was financially successful as well; our net assets increased and we made key investments in important growth areas.
Membership Reached an All-Time High
We ended FY 2013 with 8,200 members, which represented an all-time, end-of-year high. Our new member growth rate was 19 percent with more than 1,500 new people joining SWANA during the year. Our existing membership retention rate was 83 percent. Sixty percent of our members were employed by the public sector and 38 percent were employed by the private sector. The Nevada Great Basin Chapter achieved the largest percent increase in membership (39 percent) and the Texas Lone Star Chapter had the largest overall increase bringing their membership to 466.
Steady membership is a good sign of the health of our association and is directly attributable to the outstanding programs put forth by our chapters, Technical Divisions, training faculty, International Board of Directors, officers and staff. Our media outreach efforts through our official journal, MSW Management Magazine, and other publications continued to make the benefits of SWANA membership widely known throughout the solid waste field.
Successful Chapter and Division Programs
Membership in SWANA’s seven Technical Divisions was more than 2,950, and the Technical Divisions participated in a wide array of professional development activities in their specialties. This included holding four successful specialty symposia, providing training course faculty, and developing the technical program for WASTECON®.
SWANA Chapters provided a number of outstanding programs for their members. Many Chapters held technical conferences, training events, regional symposia, and truck and equipment Road-E-Os, which were posted on the chapter calendar of events on the SWANA website. The International Road-E-O was held in Denton, Texas in October with more than 200 participants and guests.
The Southern California Founding Chapter hosted WASTECON® in Long Beach, which provided many new sessions including the Safety Summit, Global Developments, Conversion Technologies and Innovations in Recycling. SWANA would like to thank our exhibitors, sponsors, speakers and training course faculty that contributed to this year’s event. Due to their hard work and dedication, WASTECON® continues to be the premier show put on by and for solid waste professionals. WASTECON® 2014 will take place in Dallas, Texas on August 25-28.
Growth in Our Training, and Education Programs
In FY 2013, 4,300 people attended SWANA’s national training and education events, which represent a ten percent growth over the prior year. These figures do not include the thousands of people who attended Chapter training and education programs throughout North America.
Registration for our online webinars went up 17 percent from the previous year, totaling 1,100 registrations. Given that multiple viewers often participate from each Webinar registration, we estimate that more than 3,000 individuals took advantage of these online webinars in FY 2013. Eight Chapters (Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri Nebraska, New York and Washington) and one private company (Golder Associates) participated in the webinar pre-payment program and provided their SWANA members with complimentary registrations for webinars throughout the year.
More than 640 individuals attended Chapter Partnering and Training@Work events during the year, up 50 percent from the previous year. The certification program continued in full force and, at the end of the fiscal year, 3,200 held active SWANA certifications in eight disciplines, up seven percent from the prior year.
Important Outputs from the Applied Research Foundation and Advocacy Program
In 2013, the Applied Research Foundation completed its 13th full year and produced a number of valuable products for its 38 subscribers. Important reports were issued on Recycling of Source Separated Organics, Organic Collection from Multi Family Residences and the Economic and Job Creation Benefits of Waste-to-Energy Systems. Since its inception, the Applied Research Foundation has produced 35 research publications addressing high priority research needs and has published many articles in technical journals reaching tens of thousands of readers world-wide.
This was a very active year for the legislative and regulatory advocacy program with SWANA tracking, commenting and reporting on many regulations and legislative proposals. SWANA supported the EPA Renewable Fuel Standard that included fuels produced from landfill gas. SWANA also supported the extension of the Landfill Gas and Waste-to-Energy Tax Credit that was enacted into law. SWANA began work with EPA on the revisions to the MSW Landfill New Source Performance Standards and on the exemption of biogenic carbon dioxide from solid waste management operations from the greenhouse gas regulations.
On the litigation front, SWANA was party to the Amicus Brief filed in support of the Horry County, South Carolina flow control ordinance upheld by the Federal Court. In addition, SWANA supported the Doña Ana County, New Mexico Solid Waste Authority flow control ordinance, which was enacted into law.
The Financial Bottom Line
In December, the SWANA Finance Committee unanimously approved the annual audit of SWANA’s financial statements for FY 2013 carried out by independent auditors, Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C. For the 13th year in a row, SWANA received a clean audit and unqualified opinion that the financial statements presented fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of SWANA in conformity with the U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. The auditors also issued a management letter that stated that there were no significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in SWANA’s internal control program.
The audit found that the total association assets at the end of the fiscal year were $3.77 million, liabilities were $1.55 million and total net assets were $2.22 million. I believe that SWANA’s healthy balance sheet, with a 2.4 to1 ratio of assets to liabilities, is a result of our prudent management of our finances resources during very uncertain external economic conditions and we intend to continue this practice. At the end of the fiscal year, the emergency reserve fund established by the SWANA International Board of Directors (IB) had a balance of $1.21 million.
Thank you to all the SWANA members and hardworking SWANA Staff that helped make 2013 a very successful year. Building on that success, I am looking forward to an amazing 2014. Happy New Year!