In 1962, six sanitation workers in southern California incorporated an effort to share information on solid waste practices, notably safety. They called it the Governmental Refuse Collection and Disposal Association (GRCDA). There was no thought at the time of creating chapters. But word of its existence caught on and its influence spread to where it is today: a North American membership association of 44 chapters engaged in education, training, certification, and advocacy.
The following is a decade-by-decade chronology of its chapters, governance and technology. History from the early years with respect to chapters is spotty and in some cases, missing, with early chapter formation dates in some cases being estimates.
The Southern California group would form in 1962 and become what would be known as GRCDA’s first chapter. Years later, in 1987, it would change its name to the GRCDA Southern California Founding Chapter.
|Photos: MARIO NUNEZ
An incinerator operation in Pasadena, CA, early 1960s.
|The fleet in Glendale, CA, during the late 1950s.
|Photo: BRENDA HANEY
Sanitation workers in Irving, TX, 1955
|Photo: MARIO NUNEZ
The yard in Glendale, CA, late 1950s
In 1964, the GRCDA Northern-Central Chapter formed and was dissolved the next year. The Northern California Gold Rush chapter is believed to have started in 1965; the Central California Sierra chapter formed in 1966. The Washington chapter was chartered in 1969.
Six years later, GRCDA experienced more growth on the Pacific Coast with the chartering of the Oregon Beaver chapter in 1975.
Additionally, British Columbia (Pacific), Canadian Prairie (Northern Lights), Utah (Beehive), New Mexico Roadrunner, Oklahoma (Indian Nations), Arizona, and Florida chapters came into being in this decade.
As GRCDA grew, governance became a more significant issue. To meet those needs, the International Executive Committee (EC) and International Board of Directors (IB) were created.
GRCDA grew from a West Coast association totally staffed by volunteers to an international association with a staff to serve as stewards of GRCDA for the benefit of its membership.
The Executive Committee consisted of the officers, past president, two directors and two corporate directors elected by the corporate members and met three times annually. Bylaws were amended during 1979 to add the Seminar Chairman to the Executive Committee effective in 1980.
The International Board of Directors met midyear and included the officers in addition to eight directors from the public sector and six directors from the private sector.
Key management issues were addressed in 1979. Prompted by the Executive Committee, GRCDA established a schedule of accounts to manage the finances of the organization and began to keep a portion of its funds in interest-bearing accounts.
GRCDA pursued nonprofit status as a 501c3 to reflect its mission of research and education.
An awards program was established to honor exemplary industry operations.
GRCDA began advocacy efforts, making comments on proposed Noise and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act regulations.
Three technical committees were formed at this time.
The Land Disposal Committee addressed both sanitary landfill and landfill-gas management issues and over time was subdivided into a Landfill Management Division and Landfill Gas Management Division.
The Hazardous Waste Committee addressed household hazardous wastes and small-quantity hazardous waste generators and over time morphed into becoming part of the Recycling and Special Wastes Division.
The Resource Recovery Committee addressed both materials recovery and waste-to-energy (WTE) and ultimately subdivided into a Waste-to-Energy Division and Recycling and Special Wastes Division.
The executive director submitted a proposal for an application to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a training, technical assistance, and information dissemination grant.
GRCDA had a number of committees—mostly technical—that had been functioning since the organization’s inception. Many were single-output committees and did not continue over the years. Over time, permanent technical committees became technical divisions.
In 1979, committees performed various tasks, although some of them did not yield many results. Those that did included equipment survey, which determined what types of collection, transfer and disposal equipment was being purchased and used by GRCDA members, an effort to increase sales of exhibit space at the annual meeting.
The Chapter Manual Committee developed a “how to” on organizing, planning and operating a GRCDA chapter. This output was to include a process for establishing a new chapter, model bylaws, and meetings techniques, among other factors. It was developed and used in a variety of ways by chapters.
Many of the organizational problems between GRCDA and its chapters were based on the lack of a set of rules or guidelines developed to define the relationships between GRCDA and its chapters. The emergence of the affiliation agreements during this time period did a great deal to improve the culture between the parent organization and its chapters.
The Management Plan Committee created a document to address GRCDA management and operations. It evolved over the years, and while it served to guide the establishment, growth, and operations of the central office, it was not perceived to have worked well for the interaction between the central office and the chapters.
At the end of 1979, Executive Director Lanny Hickman was in negotiations with the EPA to assist the agency in technical assistance, training, and information dissemination.
Chapters emerging during this decade include Illinois Land of Lincoln, Texas Lone Star, Minnesota (Land of Lakes), New Jersey, Virginia (Old Dominion), Alabama, Georgia, Alaska (Great Lands), Ohio (Buckeye), Michigan (Great Lakes), Colorado (Rocky Mountain) North Carolina, Ontario, Pennsylvania (Keystone), Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and South Carolina.
One of the first meetings of the Iowa-Nebraska chapter was inspired by Cindy Turkle who was serving as president of the Iowa Society of Solid Waste Operations.
The Iowa-Nebraska Chapter grew for seven years until 1988, when it separated into two chapters: Nebraska (later renamed Nebraska Cornhusker) and Iowa (Iowa Society of Solid Waste Operators).
In the 1980s, the Louisiana chapter came onboard, but its status was suspended in 1984 for nonpayment of dues and failure to comply with chapter status requirements.
In 1983, the Mid-Atlantic Chapter—representing Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia—was granted provisional status.
As GRCDA grew, so did its governing body and practices.
Policy development proceeded on an as-needed basis until 1983, when a formal set of policies and procedures for the development of association policies was instituted.
|Photos: MARIO NUNEZ
The Glendale, CA, fleet in the late 1950s
Officer positions were not open to private sector members, so officers who left public service for private entities had to resign. The executive director’s contract was extended from 12 to 18 months. Agreements were made to produce a trade journal; the initial agreement was with Waste Age magazine.
GRCDA authorized the development of a policy manual to help structure its management and organization and codify policy and technical decisions.
The association secretary was charged with the responsibility of maintaining a record of policy decisions. Hickman recommended that chapter presidents be used as the review group for proposed policies, with the Executive Committee concurring.
Planning was under way for the first show east of the Mississippi, with the Marriott in Orlando, FL, chosen as the site for 1984.
A revised five-year plan was approved through 1985, with the key goals being having a full-time executive director, administrative assistant, and secretary; publication of the proceedings of the Annual Seminar and Equipment Show; development of a human resources and technical information and retrieval system; promoting the growth of the association to its 25 chapters; expanding attendance to the Annual Seminar and Equipment Show; and sponsoring 15 GRCDA training presentations per year.
By spring 1981, GRCDA had experienced more growth with the need for increased staff responsibilities. Hickman considered several options, with the most viable one being a move to a suburban location with close access to Washington DC’s mass transit system for easy means to get downtown.
With money saved in rent, the association hired an administrative officer in addition to the part-time secretary/clerk to help with increased responsibilities and moved its offices to Silver Spring, MD, in early 1982.
|Photo: BUFFALO TURBINE
|Photo: BUFFALO TURBINE
Meanwhile, on a part-time basis using gratis office space at Hickman’s home, Kay Hickman took on the responsibilities of printing and mailing the newsletter and handling registration for the international seminar and equipment show.
GRCDA had to find new office space a few years later when the owner of the row of offices sold the property with the existing buildings razed and replaced it with a high-rise office building. The Executive Committee approved a move of the GRCDA International Headquarters to Georgian Towers in Silver Spring, MD.
Increased space was needed to accommodate staff growth with new EPA grants and contracts on the horizon. A part-time support employee was hired. The GRCDA international offices make a conversion to computers and networking.
By the end of 1982, a number of financial management practices were in place, including a general and administrative account, a convention account, and a special account for contracts, grants, expenses, and income.
A first variable account was in Washington DC for investment funds. An international account was based in Sacramento, CA, and managed by the treasurer. The executive director continued to transfer money to the treasurer as the international account was under the control of the Executive Committee, not the executive director. The headquarters’ accounting procedures were now being reported on a project basis.
In spring 1982, the growth of GRCDA appeared to necessitate legal assistance with such issues as the liability potential between the association and its chapters. An association legal counsel was hired: Barry Shanoff, who serves to this day.
Also in 1982, the idea of changing the organization’s name to be more reflective of the association and the field of solid waste management began to surface, but got little support.
In 1983, the International Board of Directors transitioned to its new configuration, with each chapter electing a representative to the International Board with the designation of chapter director. The number of corporate directors remained at six.
GRCDA created a new membership category—Agency for Government Solid Waste Agencies—allowing employees of an agency member to join at a lesser rate. Another category to emerge: Honorary/Lifetime.
GRCDA’s presence began to extend to such annual meetings as the National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties. Also that year, the GRCDA trademark was approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
In 1983, model chapter bylaws were developed to assist new chapter formation and existing chapters to bring their operations more in alignment with the overall GRCDA activities and programs.
Chapters were included as partners in the implementation of the policy to promote certification of landfill managers. Chapters also began the custom of adding a cultural/geographic/historic descriptor to their state/provincial title.
When GRCDA spun off from the original three California chapters, the annual seminar and equipment show went with the national GRCDA, as did the show’s income.
This led to the development of the Western Symposium, a joint partnership of the three California chapters, which led to other regional symposia. Nurtured to some degree by GRCDA’s International Board, the Executive Committee and GRCDA staff, several regional chapter and GRCDA partnerships were formed.
Ground rules were established to limit overlapping states and interference with the annual GRCDA International Seminary and Equipment Show.
|Photo: MARIO NUNEZ
A rearloader, Glendale, CA, 1965
|Photo: MARIO NUNEZ
The Florida Sunshine chapter also hosted the GRCDA’s 1984 annual exposition and first international truck Road-E-O in Orlando.
Lawrence Lecture guidelines for selection of the lecturer were approved, opening the door for the first Lawrence Lecturer in 1985. The Lawrence Lecture trust fund moved into an income-financing financial instrument.
By 1987, GRCDA membership reached 2,700. A dues increase effective fiscal year 1988 was approved by the International Board. Successful pilot testing resulted in full centralization of membership dues collection.
Lori Swain joined GRCDA in 1987 as a program analyst to work on the EPA-funded small-quantity hazardous waste generator program, bringing to the table years of experience in environmental work as well as a master’s degree in environmental science and communications.
Planning was under way to make some major changes in GRCDA’s structure and organization. Major amendments to the bylaws were planned for consideration by the Executive Committee and International Board in 1989. The establishment of technical divisions was under way.
In 1988, GRCDA actively recruited a marketing and sales manager who would have major responsibilities for the equipment show and GRCDA promotion.
Also that year, the GRCDA became a sponsor of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers.
During 1989, GRCDA experienced a 20% increase to 4,016 members. Of the 680 new members; 75 were employed in the government sector and 25% were employed in the private sector.
In 1989, two regional symposia were in place, the Eastern Regional Symposia—a partnership of the Mid-Atlantic, Pennsylvania and Virginia chapters—and the Southeastern Regional Symposium, a partnership of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.
During this decade, GRCDA headquarters put into place staff resources to assist chapters in legislation/regulatory issues with their states and provinces, technical assistance on meetings, assistance to bring speakers to their meetings, and use of the library and other data sources in the association.
A training program was developed for orientation to assist new International Board members as they began their term on the International Board and Executive Committee.
Funds were authorized for the purchase of a word processor, GRCDA’s first step into the computer world.
A $100,000 term life insurance policy on the executive director was put into place with GRCDA as the beneficiary. Additionally, a plan for management of the association in the event of the death of an executive director and search procedures to select a new executive director was under development.
Upon Hickman’s recommendation, the Executive Committee explored the concept of regionalizing the International Board. Another concept developed enabling each chapter to elect a director to the International Board to serve two-year renewable terms; the initial first terms would be staggered and decided by lottery.
Groundwork was laid to begin a process to determine the liabilities of the association from acts by the chapters and by the International Board.
As the association moved seriously into technical symposia, cooperative meeting efforts with the chapters, and support of meetings in grants and contacts, Kay Hickman was designated meetings manager to provide complete meetings management services to GRCDA. Her style was viewed as offering both a warm, personal touch to the process of meetings and no-nonsense dealings with venues used by the association.
The planned awards program was under way, including Professional Achievement Awards for regular and sustaining members, a Chapter Achievement Award, a Past International President’s Award, and a Distinguished Service Award. The awards banquet was added on the Thursday of the International Seminar and Equipment Show.
A number of modifications to the association’s bylaws were approved by the International Board, including a change in the Executive Committee to include president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, past president, one corporate director selected by the International Board corporate directors, an International Seminar Chair, and an International Equipment Show Chair.
The six International Board corporate directors represented the following areas of GRCDA interest: contract solid waste management systems services, manufacturing of solid waste management equipment and systems, sales of solid waste management equipment and systems, resource recovery/landfill gas recovery systems, financing of solid waste management systems, and solid waste management consulting services.
The International Board took steps to obtain nonprofit 501c3 status for GRCDA US chapters, with similar arrangements for the Canadian chapters
To accommodate the growth of regional symposia and the annual seminar and equipment show, the Executive Committee adopted a policy requiring show dates for regional symposia to be approved by the International Board. No regional symposia were to be held within 1,000 miles of the International Show or within five months of the International Show dates and no chapters hosting the International Show could also host a regional program.
A rotation policy was adopted for the International Seminar and Equipment Show—North America was divided into three zones and the show would be rotated through each zone.
The Grant Scholarship program was approved by the International Board, with the Executive Director instructed to develop funding and an operating plan.
After several years of discussion by the International Board and within the chapters, the International Board voted at its annual business meeting to regionalize the association’s governance and management structure into five regions.
Regionalization brought a number of changes in how GRCDA governed and managed its association activities. The midyear meeting of the International Board was no longer held, replaced by each of the five regional councils’ own meetings, where agenda items from GRCDA as well as regional items would be addressed.
Each regional council would choose a regional director to plan, organize, and manage its regional council and meeting. The regional council directors became a member of the GRCDA Executive Committee, thereby giving greater input into GRCDA management.
The regional structure also enabled the establishment of regional symposia if the chapters chose to host them.
|Photo: MARIO NUNEZ
Throughout the 1980s, GRCDA had been developing certification and training programs and also establishing a number of regional-based symposia. Faculty members included GRCDA members and staff. A training and certification event consisted of one staff member to teach and handle the logistics of the course and two GRCDA members certified in the subject being taught.
Early efforts leading to the creation of the Landfill Operators Training and Certification Program began with the introduction of the certification concept.
A GRCDA survey showed that states were supportive of the need for landfill operator training and landfill operator certification, but were not prepared to attempt to establish the necessary infrastructure to do either.
While certification by GRCDA had no legal or regulatory basis, its certification would help achieve some of the goals of a certification program, such as job/work pride, demonstration of professional qualifications, and improved skills.
GRCDA would make it known that the association was a training organization, not a certifying organization. The goal of the program was to create a recognized training effort that would result in operators with demonstrated excellence in operating a sanitary landfill to meet state and federal EPA sanitary landfill guidelines and regulations.
It was assumed that in time, the merits of certification would be recognized by state agencies and certification by state agencies would become the norm. In the interim, GRCDA would certify successful candidates based on established criteria for the training and certification program.
Where a state established a certification program, GRCDA would not issue certificates to candidates in that state, but wanted its training program designated as a qualified training program for certification in that state.
GRCDA established the Manager of Landfill Operations program (MOLO). The association agreed to provide training and certification for the proper operation and management of a municipal solid waste sanitary landfill.
The association also established that sanitary landfills must have a certified manager of landfill operations on site at all times. The landfill manager must have responsibility for compliance with all construction permits conditions, such as being held accountable to build the landfill according to the design and specifications.
The manager also must be responsible for compliance with all environmental controls and monitoring requirements, such as acceptable of operations of all leachate and landfill gas control systems and compliance with air and water quality permit conditions.
The training course would consist of three days of classroom lectures and field exercises.
Faculty members would be certified landfill managers. A written examination and oral interview would complete the training course.
In MOLO’s early days, the certification requirements were unusually stringent, given the current status at that time of the quality of landfills and the educational and experience levels of people working on the sites.
Other certification efforts would follow. The International Board approved Hickman’s recommendations of criteria for voluntary certification of solid waste managers.
During the 1980s, GRCDA would take measures within the organization and in partnership with other entities to advance the cause of technical training. There would be partnerships with the EPA’s Solid Waste Office on developing information on solid waste management practices for dissemination, small-quantity hazardous generator training for local governments, and technical assistance. EPA grants also would fund a project to study small-quantity hazardous waste generation.
GRCDA also would co-sponsor, along with the EPA, the US Department of Energy, and the National Solid Waste Management Association (NSWMA), an International European Waste-to-Energy Conference in 1980 as a means to examine European WTE technologies and their operations.
In 1986, GRCDA was working actively with the EPA on the development of Subtitle D Landfill regulations and on the agency’s efforts to regulate landfill gas emissions from MSW landfills.
GRCDA would also be involved with other agencies in conferences on waste flow control.
Through the decade, GRCDA worked on many projects funded by the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste, including a Subtitle D project to develop and present a variety of training efforts associated with sanitary landfill design and operation. Planned programs included training for state landfill enforcement personnel and presentations relative to the Subtitle D regulations.
The EPA Survey Project was a one-year joint effort with the American Public Works Association and was funded to conduct a survey on the needs of local government to meet new federal and state regulatory requirements.
The EPA Peer Match Project provided funds for GRCDA and the National Recycling Council to provide onsite technical assistance through peer matching. Each organization was to develop a database of member skills and establish a college of advisors to provide peer-matching services.
The EPA Technology Transfer Project provided funds for GRCDA to develop summary reports and case studies of research and project efforts that were considered to be useful in the decision making for municipal solid waste management systems.
The EPA Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Conference Project provided funds for the preparation and presentation of an annual household hazardous waste conference, provision of technical assistance, and an HHW newsletter. GRCDA would manage the conference and the remainder of the project was to be done by a contract with Waste Watch.
The EPA National MSW Information Clearinghouse would automate and expand the GRCDA/SWANA library and establish an electronic bulletin board.
The EPA Outreach Project provided meetings planning and management support to the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste. Support was provided for regulatory public hearings and agency-sponsored conferences. One notable conference was an International Municipal Solid Waste Management Conference.
Additionally, funding was also provided to broaden the interface between US municipal solid waste management managers and their counterparts in Europe and Asia, primarily through the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).
The association entered the technical and political areas of landfill gas management by creating a technical committee focused on it.
In 1984, guidelines for the establishment and operations of the technical committees were developed. Technical committees consisted of Collection, Disposal, Hazardous Wastes, Landfill Gas, and Resource Recovery.
Among the committees’ functions were to develop manuals to assist MSW operators. For example, a manual on contracting for residential solid waste collection was developed by the Collection Committee.
The Disposal Committee completed a plan and criteria for the Landfill Excellence Program. The program, launched in 1986, was followed rapidly with similar programs for collection systems, recycling systems, and landfill gas management systems. The first landfill excellence awards would be presented in 1986 at the Reno International Seminar and Equipment Show. The Disposal Committee also began creating a landfill operators training course.
The Resource Recovery Committee planned a Resource Recovery Excellence Program, presenting its first symposium in 1986.
The Landfill Gas Symposium, the first specialty conference established by GRCDA, continued to grow, with the 1983 conference attracting more than 200 attendees.
By 1987, GRCDA had a number of training programs up and running including MOLO, Manager of Municipal Solid Waste Collection Systems, and Manager of Recycling Systems.
Advocacy efforts were in full swing during this decade. In 1985, GRCDA submitted comments to the Department of Transportation on proposed new truck weight regulations based on chapter input.
Led by Bernie Zahren, advocacy efforts to ensure the continuance of tax credits provided to landfill gas recovery projects were an ongoing activity by the Landfill Gas Management Committee and GRCDA.
GRCDA testified on the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act hearings in Washington, arguing against legislation that would effectively eliminate requirements for utilities to purchase power from alternative energy providers.
Association advocacy efforts pressed forward in this decade on such issues as Subtitle D Landfill Regulations. Clean Air Act regulations on Waste-to-Energy combustors and landfill gas emissions were addressed jointly with such organizations as National Solid Waste Management Association, National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities.
In 1989, the International Board approved the establishment of technical divisions.
The International Board authorized the establishment of a technical director for GRCDA, with Clay Ervine the first to fill the position. Ervine was a former United States Public Health Commission Corps commissioned officer and a former director of environmental protection for Montgomery County, MD.
GRCDA also established a technical library, using Hickman’s personal collection as a starting point. In 1988, the association launched a technical division newsletter and a new public education committee was formed.
In international activities, GRCDA was working with the Swedish Solid Waste Association planning a study trip to Sweden in 1990. Swedish WTE, recycling and landfills would be studied and a technology interchange work session would be held.
In 1990, with increasing membership and a growing number of chapters came an increased chapter/member service requirement from the GRCDA international office. To answer this need, a formal chapter assistance program was developed and operated by GRCDA’s chapter development programs unit.
The program included services to existing chapters, development of new chapters, chapter liaison, chapter files, leadership, legislative tracking, technical assistance, administrative committees, Road-E-O, and the Public Education Committee.
New projects to facilitate chapter services include a leadership program, a revised legislative system, a chapter officers’ newsletter, a chapter slide presentation, a tabletop display, increased chapter visits, and revision of chapter documents.
|Photo: BRENDA HANEY
Collection truck, Austin, TX, mid-1950s
Through its chapter programs, the association committed to assisting groups in non-chapter territories in chapter formation. The process includes formation of committee development, election of officers/directors, formation of program subcommittee, formation of organizing subcommittee, submission of petition for provisional chapter status and vote of the International Board, completion of paperwork, the provisional chapter requests for full chapter status, International Board and membership vote, and formation of a full chapter.
During the 1990s, efforts ensued to restore chapter status to Louisiana. Chapter formation efforts were under way or being completed for Tennessee, Arkansas, West Virginia, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Kansas (Sunflower), Atlantic Canada, Indiana (Hoosier), New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Nevada, Missouri, New Hampshire/Vermont, North Dakota, and Iowa.
A major move in governance in this decade occurred when GRCDA changed its name to the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA).
Hickman continued to promote the idea that GRCDA was nothing like what it had been in the early 1960s when it was formed. Pressure for a name change also came from some officers and the executive director, while a strong minority of long-term members wanted to keep it as is.
Hickman pointed out that the term refuse was out of step with the current terminology—solid waste. He further pointed out that the organization transcended collection and disposal to encompass waste-to-energy, recycling, landfill-gas management, manager/executive training, and advocacy.
The International Board agreed and charged the Executive Committee to come up with a proposed new name with recommendations solicited from the membership. There were two conditions: the name had to encompass the term solid waste and have a geographical designation.
The two final choices: Association of Solid Waste Professionals (ASWP) and the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA). The vote for SWANA was unanimous. The acronym was more acceptable than ASWP; it included the association’s international nature, and it defined the mission: solid waste.
A five-year phase-in period was instituted. Over that time, new membership certificates, membership pins, flags, and banners would be purchased by SWANA.
The trend toward broadening the participation in governance continued as the bylaws were amended to include a representative of the technical divisions on the International Board and Executive Committee.
The regional councils met during the annual International Board annual meeting in Vancouver, BC.
By 1990, the four International Board committees—planning, financial, policy, and membership—were fully operational. These committees met in Vancouver and made recommendations to the International Board. The approach streamlined the International Board’s business.
Meanwhile, certain statements in the SWANA mission statement were modified. The word government was removed from the mission “to develop an increased professionalism in the field of solid waste management.”
The word reduction was added to the mission “to develop environmentally sound, economically competitive, and effective integrated solid waste management systems including reduction, recycling, collection, and disposal of solid waste.”
Other mission statements included “to foster development of environmentally safe and technologically sound solid waste management practices and facilities” and “to foster a cooperative atmosphere among solid waste management professionals through public education, dissemination of information, continuing education, professional development and research programs to best serve the public interest.”
In 1990, the association instituted an annual technical awards program, Excellence in Solid Waste Management. The technical divisions developed criteria for excellence both in technology and management and made the presentations at the annual seminar and equipment show.
Policies approved by the International Board included source reduction, integrated solid waste management planning, biomedical waste management, and managing ash (MSW combustor ash).
The Planning Committee ruled out the concept of reorganizing SWANA into US and Canadian associations.
The Executive Director Transition Committee began to make plans in advance of Executive Director Lanny Hickman’s 1996 retirement. An organizational change due to the rapid growth in membership, programs, policy, and advocacy split off some executive director responsibilities, creating a chief executive officer (CEO) and a chief operating officer (COO). A chief financial officer (CFO) position would be established as well.
The COO would be responsible for the association’s day-to-day direction and devote more time to outreach activities.
The focus of the executive director/CEO would be shifted more to advocacy, outside networking and building stronger ties with organizations with similar interests of SWANA policy issues and to train the key staff in their roles and responsibilities.
By 1991, SWANA operations were organized and budgeted into management and operations—the Office of Executive Director and Administrative Services, Meetings Management, Technical Programs, Chapter Programs, Marketing and Sales, Executive Committee, International Board, International Solid Waste Association, Road-E-Os, Landfill Gas Symposium, Waste-to-Energy Symposium, Recycling Symposium, Manager of Landfill Operations Training Events, Virginia Waste Management Conference, Regional Symposia (Eastern, Southeastern, Midwestern, and Southwestern), Publications and Memorabilia, Scholarship Fund, Future Conventions, San Jose (upcoming international seminar and equipment show), and Tampa (upcoming international seminar and equipment show).
In 1992, the International Board approved a number of policies, including full cost accounting for municipal solid waste management, importation/exportation of municipal solid waste, controlling the municipal solid waste stream, the key to successful integrated solid waste management, and municipal solid waste training, research, and development.
At the end of 1992, SWANA membership stood at 5,328. A slowdown in the economy affected the association like other North American operating businesses. During that year, financial considerations factored into the association, pushing back plans a year to open a staff office in Canada.
As an alternative, the association opened a drop box bank account in a Canadian bank in Ottawa.
The association took steps to consider changing the membership categories to four: regular (working in the public sector), sustaining (working in the private sector), agency (a not-for-profit organization) and corporate (a for-profit organization).
SWANA added the position of controller, whose responsibility it is to maintain the association’s financial records and financial management. SWANA headquarters was reorganized into two main operating groups: Technical Assistance, Information and Training Group, and Membership and Chapter Services Group.
With the adoption of the new five-year plan and new management structure, the goals of the five-year plan budgeting and operations were organized by goals:
- Advocacy—the major focus would be on waste flow control.
- MSWM state-of-art reports—planned reports included MRF, drop boxes designs, leachate management, landfill gas management, ash management, white goods management, waste tire management and battery management.
- Membership management—membership records management, membership growth, support of chapters, formation of new chapters (targets of opportunity included the Caribbean, Missouri and Kentucky), support of the Road-E-O, and future sites analysis and studies.
During 1993 and 1994, the association governance and management underwent an intense examination and evaluation. The mission statement, goals, and objectives were significantly altered by the Executive Committee in a new long-term strategic plan, shaping SWANA’s future direction.
The goals included:
- Identify the association’s customers. Historically, SWANA was based on public sector solid waste management professionals and organizations with the private sector addressed as a secondary level of membership to a certain extent. Two key issues discussed but not acted on included limiting the officers to public sector and a different dues structure for public and private employees. Surveys were developed to help identify customers.
- Develop consensus of roles and responsibilities between the Executive Committee, the International Board, chapters and staff pertaining to decision-making, planning, implementation, and evaluation. This adopted objective reflects the growth and change of the association from a totally member-driven organization to one with a staff empowered to keep the organization running and strong. An organizational flow chart was developed.
- Develop a marketing plan to address the needs of the majority of identified customers, addressing the changing customer base as SWANA expanded its programs in training, certification and advocacy. The marketing plan focused on collection, transfer, landfilling, Waste-To-Energy, and recycling, MRFs, and composting.
- Develop a strategic management plan to address SWANA’s mission.
- Develop a program plan for fiscal year 1996.
- Effectively develop a process to communicate the mission, goals, and objectives to the membership based on a general consensus that SWANA had a broader role than its historic local government culture: to assist all solid waste management professionals and recognize the fundamental responsibilities of local governments to provide for municipal solid waste management needs. This eventually led to a policy position that local governments had the responsibility to ensure environmentally and economically sound solid waste management services, but that local government need not necessarily deliver those services.
- Provide a sufficient and more stable revenue base for SWANA.
- Foster trust between the chapters and the International Board, the Executive Committee and staff.
- Establish goals consistent with the mission statement.
- Have the chapters and association function as unified organization.
- Create unanimity among the chapters and the association on the SWANA mission.
- Determine if SWANA should continue to be an advocacy association.
- Address the structure of the membership classes.
- Develop a new transition plan for the executive director. The International Board wanted the transition plan updated and adopted by the time Hickman’s departure was to occur in 1996.
- Provide staff to support the mission of the organization. A number of caveats were adopted to better define the objective, including staff, chief of staff, executive director, endorsement of the implementation of SWANA’s staffing plan through the review and approval of the budget and planning process, and development of a staffing plan to support the strategic management plan.
- Develop strategies to increase SWANA’s influence in setting national and international policy.
- Develop a program to enhance and increase volunteer participation.
- Communicate and educate the integrated solid waste management policy makers of the practical realities of integrated solid waste management.
- Develop strategies to increase SWANA’s influence in setting state and local policy. The International Board redirected the emphasis to chapters rather than SWANA and referred the objective to the policy committee for implementation.
- Develop programs that will assist practitioners to develop skills to keep up with the evolution of integrated solid waste management.
- Train and facilitate the certification of solid waste professionals.
- Develop universally accepted definitions for the solid waste industry.
- Foster the establishment of standards of practice in the solid waste profession.
- Support research and development and innovation in the solid waste profession.
- Establish favorable SWANA name and product recognition.
- Establish an effective public relations program.
- Expand and enhance the networking between SWANA and other associations.
- Develop policies and programs that are sensitive to geographic differences.
- Educate the public regarding environmentally and economically sound solid waste management practices.
- Develop a staff/education program including field assignments.
The objectives were assigned to the four International Board committees.
The Finance Committee recommended establishment of an investment policy, turned down a staff recommendation to require the chapters to pay the costs of their chapter corporation registered agent, and turned down a staff recommendation to terminate the annual Road-E-O, among other measures.
The objectives were grouped under the four strategic management plan goals, with a fifth goal created: further research, development, and demonstration.
At the 1995 business meeting, SWANA took another major step toward becoming an association of professionals. After more than 30 years of limiting the officers to employees of public agencies, a paper ballot to allow retired members, life members and sustaining members to serve as officers in the association amended the bylaws.
A number of policies were approved in 1995. SWANA’s Advocacy Policy was approved based on the two principles—the guiding principle, which is “local government is responsible for municipal solid waste management, but not necessarily the ownership and/or operation of municipal solid waste management systems” and an advocacy policy that “SWANA’s advocacy shall represent the professional interests of its members.”
As for annual meetings, historically the host chapter received a portion of the net of the annual show. As the meeting grew in size and complexity, the tasks and workload for a host chapter grew.
Tasks with clear definition and outputs for a host chapter were developed and crafted into an association policy. A dollar value was assigned to each task. A host chapter could then—based on their membership size and ability to carry out a task—pick those they wanted to do and annual show management would do the balance.
A new executive director/CEO selection process was under way. A search team composed of members of the Executive Committee had been established. A selection process plan with criteria had been developed and a scoring process was to be used, based on interviews, to rank the candidates. Advertisements were being placed in trade magazines and journals and the association newsletter included advertisements.
The Executive Committee was authorized to hire on or before July 1, 1966, an executive director/chief executive officer who would take the position effective October 1, 1996.
In the recruitment for the new executive director/CEO, more than 100 candidates responded to the request for interested persons. Of those, 50 met the steps in applying for the job. Each of the 50 was scored by each member of the transition committee, generating a list of nine candidates.
Eight were interviewed over a period of two day in Baltimore. By mid-May 1996, there was a final list of three and negotiations were under way with two of the candidates.
Executive Director and CEO John Skinner took his position with SWANA in August 1996.
At midyear 1996, SWANA had 6,100 members. The association needed broader coverage until such a time that SWANA had reached a critical mass in its membership and programs. Eventually, MSW Management became the house journal for SWANA.
SWANA was the National Member for the US and Canada in the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).
Training documents and programs were boosted in the 1990s.
The Manager of Integrated Municipal Solid Waste Management Systems training manual was published in 1990, launching the program. The manual was based on a master’s degree thesis by Frank Lancaster, written as part of his MBS program at Colorado State University. Dean A. Longo, Harvey Gershman, and Barry Shanoff also contributed to it.
In 1992, it was renamed the Planning and Managing Integrated Municipal Solid Waste Management Systems.
Members of the recycling division led the development of the training and certification program for managers of MSW recycling systems. Staff from Gershman, Brickner and Bratton (GBB) were key in the development of the training and certification program. The manual underwent major revisions in 1995.
The course, Paying for Your MSW Management System: Revenue Generation and Cost Accounting, previewed in 1992 after a major effort by many GRCDA members to develop it and present it.
The idea for a training course on Financing Integrated Municipal Solid Waste Management Systems was based on a presentation given by Harvey Gershman, president of Gershman, Brickner and Bratton (GBB) at SWANA’s Annual Recycling Symposium.
Subsequent discussions with Truett DeGeare of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste confirmed SWANA’s views that formal training in the area of costs, economics and full cost accounting had great merit.
Financial support from the EPA allowed SWANA to conduct a series of case studies on enterprise funding, essential to developing the training manual, which was done by GBB staff members.
In 1991 and 1992, the Committee on Resource Recovery and the Environment was established by SWANA, the Conference of Mayors and NSWMA to provide technical information on resource recovery.
Funded by corporate and governmental contributions, its purpose was to be a counterbalance to the strong environmentalist organizations’ attacks on resource recovery, primarily waste-to-energy.
Its technical director was Walt Schaub, Ph.D., of Cornell University, who had many years of experience in the field of incineration and served on the US EPA Science Advisory Board.
In 1991, the Waste-to-Energy Division held its sixth annual Waste-to-Energy symposium. That specialty conference, under the leadership of SWANA, merged with the Air and Waste Management Association, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Integrated Waste Services Association annual waste-to-energy conferences to form the North American Waste-to Energy Conference, held in 1993.
Additionally, SWANA had entered into a contract with the Department of Energy (DOE) for a program called Management Information and Technology Evaluation, established to review and analyze project outputs from the DOE’s waste program.
SWANA also transitioned from government funding to independent funding for a suite of services that included a toll-free hotline and fax line for technical assistance, access to an electronic bulletin board with information on current solid waste management issues, a computer network message center allowing users to interact with other solid waste professionals, and access to the SWANA library online and document ordering services.
Waste flow control (WFC) became a major issue in 1993. The pending US Supreme Court hearing of Carbone vs. Clarkstown drew the battle lines between the public and private sectors.
Efforts by SWANA helped forge a coalition with the National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties; fundraising paid the costs of legislative counsel to help in the Congress.
A WFC legislative strategy was developed to attempt to move WFC legislation through Congress. It was considered essential regardless of the outcome of the Carbone case.
SWANA filed an independent amicus brief on behalf of the members of SWANA with a selected number of solid waste authorities—all SWANA members—and special purpose districts as co-participants.
The EPA was charged by Congress to prepare a report on the significance of WFC. The EPA held hearings in a number of locations in the US at which select SWANA officers testified on behalf of SWANA.
The Executive Committee, recognizing the impact that waste flow control would have on its membership, added a guiding principle to the association’s mission statement: “SWANA believes that local government has the primary responsibility for planning and managing its integrated municipal solid waste management systems. Local government must determine the most environmentally safe and economically sound methods for providing solid waste services, whether they are delivered by the public sector, the private sector or under a public/private partnership.”
In the meantime, SWANA continued to partner with federal agencies on a number of projects.
SWANA, in partnership with the EPA, was involved in contracts and grants to deliver solid waste management services to the public and private sectors. Projects included the Solid Waste Assistance Program (SWAP) and Peer Match—technical assistance and peer matching efforts; the MSW Technical Assistance and Information project that included support of EPA MSW conferences, a household hazardous waste conference, special studies on selected municipal solid waste practices and assistance to EPA Region IX (San Francisco) in its efforts to address landfill regulations.
The US DOE partnered with SWANA in a number of contracts with its solid waste program to evaluate solid waste management technologies. The evaluations included MRFs and dropoff centers, analysis and examination of plastics in MSW streams, analysis and examination of Hg/PVC in MSW streams, and emissions from MSW processing facilities.
SWANA also partnered with the US Department of Agriculture, assisting in rural solid waste management needs.
Also, SWANA partnered with the Indian Health Service in a program to provide technical assistance to tribal reservations on the implementation of sanitary landfills and collection systems.
During the 1990s, SWANA launched centralized MSW Training Institutes. Regional symposia—a partnership of SWANA and the chapters—had reached a level of success that responsibility for them was handed off to the chapters.
SWANA was in the middle of the debate on the content of the proposed new source performance standards and emission guidelines (NSPS & EG) for landfill gas control. The levels of control proposed by SWANA were the ones that eventually were used by the EPA when the agency promulgated the regulation.
SWANA also was part of the WTE owners/operators negotiating the NSPS and EG for municipal waste combustors. This group battled environmental activists such as the National Resource Defense Council over emission levels and quantities.
“It is fair to say the outcome pleased no one fully,” Hickman says.
SWANA represented its landfill owners/operators in negotiations with EPA on the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle D Landfill regulations, specifically the financial tests for financial assurance.
SWANA also was involved in a number of other EPA regulatory efforts, including the small landfill exemption (Subtitle D rule), Toxics Release Inventory Program, Hazardous Waste Identification Rule, and New Source Review for Landfill Gas.
Applied research activities such as collection optimization studies, were funded by a number of sources (EPA Office of Solid Waste, Department of Energy Waste Program, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, American Plastics Council, National Soft Drink Association, and Proctor and Gamble) and also by SWANA.
Reports from this work, made available through the SWANA library, included the Municipal Innovative Technology Evaluation Series, Automated Plastic Sorting, Drop-Off Recycling Programs, High Oxygen Combustion of Sludge Program, On-Board Weighing for Collection, Integrated Municipal Solid Waste Management Study, Management Techniques for Successful Integrated Municipal Solid Waste Management Systems, Practices for Urban Wood Waste, Full Cost Accounting and Enterprise Accounting, Case Studies on Composting of Municipal Solid Wastes, and Construction and Demolition Debris Recycling.
Other applied research under way included development of a manual of practice for operations of landfill-gas recovery systems and assessment of landfill-gas generation models for the Department of Energy.
In 1996, the year Skinner took the helm, Kentucky, Nevada, and Arkansas were approved as provisional chapters. The International Board and Executive Committee evaluation process was being considered. Technical policies were being consolidated. The technical division chapter liaisons were being put in place for first time.
Changes to bylaws were occurring. In one change, no more than one International Board officer can be from life, retired or sustaining member classes provided, however, that an officer who is a regular member and becomes a retired or life member is still eligible to hold office.
The International Board gave general empowerment to the executive director/CEO and general counsel to produce the formulation of a SWANA position on legislative issues that impact the industry on the whole and to revisit the advocacy structure.
A bylaws amendment was put on the ballot: If an existing officer changes his or her job and goes from a regular to a sustaining member, and as a result of that, violates the rule of one sustaining member sitting in the chairs, that individual should be allowed to finish his or her terms and complete the process of moving through the officer chairs.
Soon after Skinner took over, SWANA established the Grant H. Flint International Scholarship Awards Program.
The program is initiated by the chapters through their chapter scholarship committee. Eligible candidates must be natural or adopted children or grandchildren of a member (sponsor) in good standing as of May 1 of the calendar year. SWANA student members in good standing are also eligible for Category II.
Candidates residing in a chapter area must be selected and recommended by the chapter for an International Award.
Current award categories include Category I: graduating high school seniors or graduate equivalent certified candidates who have been accepted for enrollment in a junior college, a four-year college, or a university (any program).
Category II is for currently enrolled full-time college or university students who are entering their junior or senior undergraduate year and pursuing a degree in environmental science, engineering, or other suitable major related to the field of solid waste management.
Other scholarship awards sponsored by several SWANA private sector members and established to recognize key people from their firms/companies also have been established.
Another major program established in 1996 to benefit young people was the SWANA Lanny and Kay Hickman Internship Program. The funds were established in 1998 to honor Lanny, the retired executive director of SWANA and Kay, the retired meetings director, for their many years of service to the association and the field of solid waste management.
The program provides an opportunity for selected college and university students to integrate classroom skills with a supervised work experience including but not limited to investigative and analytical research, writing brief documents, and the development of technical reports.
The annual internship is offered to students who are currently studying in fields associated with solid waste management or another field of study related to a specific work program.
Candidates must have at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 GPA system or international equivalent, must be entering or be in their junior, senior, or graduate level, and must be willing to commit a full semester or term to the internship program.
Candidates are recruited from the United States, Canada, and Europe utilizing ties among SWANA’s chapters, technical divisions, ISWA, the solid waste media community, and colleges and universities.
Students majoring in academic programs related to the specific work program for a given internship period are given first priority for internship consideration for projects suggested by the technical divisions, SWANA staff, SWANA members, members’ organizations or others with an identifiable need. A statement of work is established for each internship.
The Senior Executive Seminar was held for the first time in 1997 and has continued as a successful event. Historically, seminar attendance has been by invitation only and has included approximately 80 executive directors, CEOs, vice presidents, and other high-level decision makers from public and private sectors.
The conference provides a venue and opportunities for attendees to share experiences with other senior executives in a casual atmosphere, get a candid look at some of the best-run solid waste systems in the world, and attend one of the most sought-after, invitation-only seminars in the industry.
In 1996, SWANA was a major contributor to US Congressional action to extend the Section 29 LFG tax credits for another year. SWANA was actively involved in a number of other advocacy related interests, including HW Identification Rule, Clean Water Act 404 Regulations, and Clean Air Act Title V Landfill Emissions Control.
In the realm of training, two onsite training packages (training done by managers for their work forces) were developed in 1996: Training Collection Operating Personnel, and Landfill Health & Safety.
To address travel costs of certified managers and operators and provide more options for continuing education to meet certification requirements, four home-study training packages were developed in 1996: landfill gas management, groundwater monitoring, leachate treatment and management, and C&D recycling.
Training institutes were initiated to offer a variety of SWANA training programs at one site.
Three new symposia were initiated in 1996: landfill, collection, and planning and management.
MOLO continued to be the flagship certification program for SWANA, with the association now certifying collection systems managers, recycling systems managers, and managers of integrated solid waste management systems as well.
In the meantime, SWANA’s Internet home page had received 90,000 hits in 1996, although the power of the Internet had yet to be tapped into by SWANA.
Efforts in 1997 included the development of two onsite training packages; home study packages (making four available); a new certification category, technical associate, for day-to-day managers of solid waste facilities or program; an excellence awards expansion including the Christmas Tree Recycling Excellence Awards Program; the Tech Division Information Service program completed its second year with more than 1,200 participants, and a new structure for Tech Divisions and Committees.
In the Applied Research arena, the Integrated Municipal Solid Waste Management Cost study results were being implemented by SWANA through a program to assist local governments to make true comparative costs within an integrated system.
The collection optimization study work was in final form, with a number of workshops planned in 1997. Some of the optimization techniques to be included were route optimization and full cost accounting.
In 1997, the association began on a test basis the process of implementing training by chapters under a partnering agreement with SWANA, with early results deemed positive.
Distance learning training packages were being provided by the association. The development of a policy position of advocacy related to legislation was authorized.
In 1998, the International Board directed that general counsel and executive director/CEO solicit from all chapters an updated review and certification of chapter bylaws. The New Hampshire/Vermont Chapter becomes Northern New England Chapter. Louisiana was approved as a regular chapter.
The New Millennium
Some 10 years would pass before another new chapter was begun. In 2008, the Caribbean/Puerto Rico chapter was formed, due in large part to the efforts of past president Tom Parker’s support of local volunteers and SWANA members in Puerto Rico.
The Formation Committee’s work promoted the formation of a local chapter that would provide training and certification opportunities, networking with solid waste professionals within the island and connections to other professionals throughout North America.
In 2000, the first officer transition meeting was held in Silver Spring. It was a year of many policy developments, updates, and revisions. The tire, construction, and demolition and composting courses were under development. Brainstorming began on the e-business strategy.
At the International Board’s annual meeting, Alberto Garza Santos of Promotora Ambiental S.A. de C.V. of Mexico spoke about solid waste management in Mexico and interest in forming a chapter.
The training manual for the Managing MSW Collection Systems underwent major updating and refinements in 2000.
In developing the transfer station training manual, the emergence of a training course for transfer station managers came from a grassroots movement of a number of Florida GRCDA members.
SWANA technical staff in Silver Spring provided logistical support in the production of the working draft.
Other programs of note include the Executive Committee's Strategic Planning/E-Business Straegy plan, which resulted from a brainstorming session in June 2000, and the establishment of the SWANA Applied Research Foundation in 2001. More information on these programs appears in the Moving Forward section of this issue.
In 2002, the staff requested the development of a media strategy to increase SWANA’s name recognition and visibility. The designation “sustaining” member changed to “corporate” member.
A full array of landfill, collection, management, recycling, and household hazardous wastes training and certification was offered in 2003. The state of Washington adopted the SWANA MOLO course as a requirement for certification of managers of landfills. A program of training courses would be offered in Washington over a period of time to provide training and certification opportunities for all candidate landfill managers in the state.
In 2003, the small haulers/small consultant membership category was changed to small business. A small distributor category was added for staff of fewer than 10 people.
After the turn of the century, SWANA focused many of its efforts on legislative advocacy.
In 2003, SWANA supported federal tax credits for the utilization of landfill gas in the final comprehensive energy bill.
In 2004, SWANA supported Section 45 tax credits for landfill gas to electricity production.
In 2005, SWANA promoted landfill gas as part of renewable resources in America’s Jobs Creation Act, H.R. 4520; SWANA supported ISWA’s petition for reconsideration of the Clean Air Interstate Rule and its petition for reconsideration of the Clean Air Mercury Rule; SWANA supported the Recycling Investment Saves Energy Act that was included in the Senate energy bill tax title and continued its support through 2006.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, many SWANA members expressed a desire to share the experience and lessons learned by those who have previously had to deal with the management of disaster debris with the state and local government managers now charged with removal and cleanup of the solid wastes caused by the hurricane. Subsequently, a report was developed for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, summarizing the responses received from SWANA members as well as other referenced documents regarding the management of disaster debris. The document was compiled by the staff of SWANA’s Applied Research Foundation.
In 2007, at its midyear meeting, the International Board approved a flow control statement: “SWANA recognizes flow control as an effective and legitimate instrument of integrated municipal solid waste management. To the extent it is allowed by law and after public discussion, including the consideration of economic, environmental and social impacts, and input from residents, businesses, and other interested parties, flow control can be implemented without unduly interfering with the free movement of municipal solid waste and recyclables across jurisdictional boundaries.”
Also, the SWANA Resolution on Rail-Based Transfer Stations was finalized:
“Uniformity and consistency in the regulation of rail transportation can deter burdens on commerce and promote efficient rail operations. To that end, Congress created the Surface Transportation Board (STB) in 1995 as the successor to the Interstate Commerce Commission. With exclusive jurisdiction over railroad operations, the STB has the power to exempt virtually any kind of activity deemed to be ‘transportation by rail carrier’ from state and local regulation.
“Through various decisions and orders, the STB has ruled that certain waste transloading activities on or near railroad rights-of-way constitute ‘transportation by rail carrier’ and thus are exempt from state laws governing solid waste management.
“While SWANA favors smooth operation of this country’s rail system—indeed, a considerable volume of municipal solid waste is safely and efficiently carried to disposal sites by rail—SWANA supports the traditional state and local responsibilities for solid waste management facilities can and should be carried out, and SWANA opposes any exception based on the proximity of the waste handling site to railroad lines.
“The STB preemption as applied to trackside solid waste facilities removes critical controls that are essential to mitigating environmental degradation and public health and safety hazards. State and local regulations are not designed to impede the transportation of waste, but rather ensure that these operations are conducted in a manner that will protect the environment and public health and safety in all communities where they are located.
“For these reasons, SWANA supports measures to end the STB’s authority to exempt railroad-related solid waste facilities.”
In 2007, SWANA created a Body of Knowledge (BOK) to identify the critical skills and knowledge required for managers operating in specific disciplines. The first BOK developed was Manager of Landfill Operations (MOLO). There is now a BOK for the other eight disciplines, including bioreactor and leachate recirculation landfill, MSW collection systems, composting programs, construction and demolition materials, household hazardous waste/conditionally exempt small quantity generators collection facility operations, MSW system management, recycling systems, and transfer station systems.
The last BOK (on hazardous household waste) was finished in 2010. In 2011, SWANA began a review and update for BOK associated with scheduled course updates once every five years. Updates have been completed for MOLO, HHW, C&D, and transfer station.
With the development of BOKs, certification exams for all courses were also updated. The process began in 2007 with MOLO and concluded in 2010 with the update of the recycling exam.
SWANA encouraged the Senate to include recycling in its America’s Climate Security Act of 2007, which identified several projects and programs—including agriculture, forestry, and land use—that qualified to provide eligible allowances to covered industries to offset a percentage of their GHG emissions.
SWANA also responded to a request from House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell on the design of a national greenhouse gas control program. SWANA supported the inclusion of waste-to-energy in a national Renewable Portfolio Standard, lobbied with the Renewable Energy Business Alliance for extension of the Production Tax Credit, and worked with the EPA to approve the Pesticide Container Recycling Rule.
In 2008, SWANA worked with the EPA to develop a greenhouse gas reporting system for solid waste operations.
|Photo: MARIO NUNEZ
In 2009, regular chapter status was granted to the Caribbean-Puerto Rico Chapter.
Also in 2009, SWANA supported credit parity for solid waste renewables, proposes specific changes to the American Clean Energy and Security Act, submitted comments on the implementation of the Clean Railroads Act of 2008 and proposed changes to EPA’s Landfill Emissions Factors. SWANA also recommended changes to EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.
In 2010, SWANA supported the Stationary Source Regulations Delay Act, which would delay any new EPA permitting or performance standards rulemaking with respect to carbon dioxide or methane emissions from stationary sources. SWANA and NSWMA supported the EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program.
Also in 2010, SWANA is given the opportunity to comment on the Climate Action Reserve draft Organics Composting Protocol. The association also offered comment on the EPA’s Call for Information: Information on Greenhouse Gas Emissions associated with Bioenergy and other Biogenic Emissions.
In fiscal year 2011, because the Flint scholarship fund had dropped below the recommended $40,000 fund level as specified in the policy, there was approval to add $2.50 to annual membership dues beginning with fiscal year 2011 for the purpose of sustainably funding scholarships in the future.
Modifications to the policy meant $20,000 in scholarship awards were approved for fiscal year 2010 and beyond to be paid from the scholarship reserve fund.
During the first decade of the 21st century, SWANA drastically changed its method of communicating information to members by incorporating the new eLibrary and eSessions into the fold.
In 2010, all exams were edited to include metric measurements, a Canadian-specific metric version was completed for MOLO, and a Spanish version of the MOLO exam for US and metric was completed.
In 2010, SWANA staff signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Keep America Beautiful to become a national partner for America Recycles Day.
In response to the Haiti earthquake, the Executive committee discussed a donation of help through the industry’s expertise, although it was believed that the logistics would make this difficult. Skinner was asked to explore different options.
In the meantime, SWANA was approached by a representative of the US Army, Capt. Andy Coulter of the 82nd Airborne Division, who was working in Haiti, concerning assistance in helping improve municipal solid waste collection services in the aftermath of the earthquake.
Up until the withdrawal of US troops, Capt. Coulter was working to provide assistance with solid waste management and vector control issues in Haiti. He contacted SWANA in an unofficial capacity in his request for assistance.
Wastes were piling up, posing serious sanitation and public health problems. There was an interest in having a small group of SWANA members with expertise in solid waste collection make a site visit to consult with Port Au Prince public works officials. However, travel expenses would not be paid.
Jeremy O’Brien, SWANA’s director of applied research, coordinated this effort for SWANA and sent out an inquiry to determine members’ interest in assisting in the effort at their own expense.
Executive Director/CEO Skinner approached the Clinton Foundation to see if there was interest in a joint effort, but since it was not viewed as climate-related, the foundation declined.
SWANA then received an official letter from Jean Harry Toussaint, the director of the solid waste department at the regional authority mandated to manage the solid waste system Service Metropolitain de Collecte des Residus Solides (SMCRS) in Port Au Prince.
SMCRS is the state-appointed agency to collect and dispose of solid waste in the greater Port-au-Prince area, including eight cities and a population of 2.5 million.
The SMCRS invited SWANA for a “prospecting visit” in Haiti in order to discuss possibilities of assisting Haitians by helping develop efficient waste collection routes and automation support.
SWANA issued an invitation to members of SWANA’s collection technical division to voluntarily participate in the SWANA Haiti Response Team. Based on the responses received, SWANA formed a SWANA Haiti Response Team of five SWANA solid waste collection system managers and a SWANA staff person.
Toussaint indicated he would appreciate a visit from the SWANA team within a few weeks, reporting that “the streets are narrow and the people throw trash all around enticing vectors for all kind of diseases.”
The goal of the SWANA team was to assist the SMCRS through a three to five-day site visit to assess critical solid waste collection issues in the Port-Au-Prince service area and the development of recommendations for collection routing and automation support to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of solid waste collection services in the service area.
Skinner sent e-mails to the Executive Committee outlining the requests, a background memo provided by O’Brien with an overview of the situation, information on insurance to cover the team, and a draft assistance volunteer waiver and release.
Further discussions focused on the team’s health and safety, SWANA’s potential liability, and how expenses would be covered. O’Brien gave the Executive Committee an overview of the action plan of action before the specific issues were discussed.
He reported the situation in Haiti had deteriorated further following the pullout of US armed forces and that it was difficult to correctly determine the magnitude of the damage there. The situation had been poorly managed because there were many competing interests involved in the recovery efforts.
He also mentioned Claudia Moeller, a SWANA member currently living and working in Haiti, who felt that SWANA could provide long-term needed support through its training programs and technical expertise.
It was noted that the SMCRS request focused on MSW collection and not disaster debris removal and management.
The Committee then discussed its three major concerns.
The health, safety, and security of the team was seen as a serious issue, especially since the pullout of US armed forces. The Executive Committee’s consensus was that sending a SWANA team to Haiti was not a good idea and other avenues should be discussed. It was suggested that Moeller take photos onsite that would help in understanding the situation, and possibly conduct a meeting stateside or remotely.
The Executive Committee also agreed there was no confidence in the Haitian government, and that a visit there would be premature.
Expenses such as travel, time investments, and other miscellaneous costs were another concern. It was suggested that the money would be taken from the operating fund, which would lower unrestricted reserves.
Skinner indicated there was an available net of $20,000 and $30,000 of other expenditures held in abeyance. It was also noted that obtaining corporate sponsors may be an option.
The Executive Committee agreed that a definition of the mission should be developed with specific details on what to do and how to do it. The committee authorized Skinner to move ahead with assistance by a Haitian response team meeting stateside to determine needs and plan of action, with cost not to exceed $5,000.
At its 2010 midyear meeting, the International Board moved to support the recommendations of the team position paper, developed by the Response Team, on Municipal Solid Waste Collection Needs in the Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
SWANA would coordinate its efforts with Toussaint of SMCRS. The International Board also supported SMCRS in using the document to seek financing from funding agencies and other organizations that may be able to meet equipment-related and other needs identified in the paper. SWANA would periodically examine the need for new or additional technical assistance training to assist SMCRS.
At a June 2010 meeting at the offices of the Solid Waste/General Services Department of the City of Clearwater, FL, ways to assist the SMCRS and the Haitian people by helping develop efficient waste collection routes and strategies as well as automation support for the SMCRS services were discussed.
Germain Paulemon, the general director of the SMCRS, was grateful, thanking SWANA “for the interest it showed in helping the people of Haiti plagued with various calamities especially the devastating earthquake.”
He offered special gratitude to O’Brien for his relentless work in making the meeting possible.
In 2011/2012, SWANA established a new process for exams. A psychometrician is expected to review all exams and deliver a report on their validity and reliability. A professional item writer is expected to work with SWANA’s faculty to create a new bank of questions for each exam so that they are fair, valid, reliable and defensible. The rollout date for the new exams for MOLO, C&D, Collections and Transfer Station is WASTECON 2012.
Chapter partnering is another program with ongoing improvements. The program’s intent is to offer training opportunities at the regional/local level, build visibility for SWANA and chapters, increase membership, certify more solid waste professionals, and generate revenue for the chapter. SWANA and the chapters participate in a revenue sharing partnership.
Contract training is an offshoot of the chapter partnering. It was rebranded in 2011 as SWANA Training@Work.
The program’s intent is to expand training beyond SWANA training centers at major conferences and symposia, build visibility for SWANA and chapters, increase membership, certify more solid waste professionals, and generate revenue.
SWANA Training@Work has two options: in-house training and onsite training.
In-house courses are sold as packages through SWANAstore. Managers or supervisors can teach these user-friendly courses in one session or as modules over several days, weeks, or months. Courses offered include collection operations basics, landfill gas basics, landfill operations basics (available in Spanish), and waste screening at MSW management facilities (available in Spanish).
Onsite courses include the nine certification courses and the four courses offered through the in-house program. The difference is SWANA will arrange for a SWANA faculty member to teach at a location. The courses are available on a contracted basis with incentives for new membership.
Premium packages include a certification course, certification exam, a one-year SWANA membership, and a one-year tech division membership. Standard packages include the certification course and exam only.
SWANA piloted the program in 2011 with success and is developing a comprehensive marketing campaign to promote the SWANA Training@Work program targeting the private sector.
Several courses went through updates in 2009 and 2010, including home study courses update (SWANA Training @Home), landfill operations basics (also in Spanish), waste screening at MSW management facilities (including a Spanish version), collection operations basics, construction and demolition debris management, landfill operations basics, landfill gas basics and on-site course update (SWANA Training@Work)
Over the years, SWANA has had partnerships and joint certifications with several industry associations. The US Composting Council is a joint sponsor of the composting programs exam.
SWANA began offering certification courses via webinar in 2011 with MOLO, Recycling and Composting.
The North American Hazardous Materials Association is a joint sponsor of the HHW/CESQG collection facility course and exam. The Construction Materials Recycling Association is a joint sponsor of the managing construction and demolition materials course and exam.
The Landfill Gas Division
Throughout time, the GRCDA/SWANA Landfill Gas Management Division has been viewed as “an association within an association,” says Hickman.
“The old saying, ‘no good deed goes unpunished,’ applied unbeknownst to the pioneers in the development of the sanitary landfill,” he says. “Improved siting, planned placement and unloading and compaction practices that emerged as the sanitary landfill developed resulted in improved utilization of air space, safety, and the emergence of engineering principles in the design of disposal facilities.
“The most common denominator, however, in the change from dumps to sanitary landfills was the application of daily cover. Daily cover resulted in many good things including appearance, vector control, minimization of infiltration of run-on from rainfall, and fire control to mention the most notable positive attributes.”
However, those good deeds were punished, Hickman contends.
They were “punished” in the early emergence of sanitary landfills with the generation of an unexpected byproduct of the degradation of the solid waste in sanitary landfills: landfill gas.
“The early literature in the 1950s and 1960s addressing the design and construction of what eventually became sanitary landfills rarely mentions the emergence of a gas from the landfills. When noted, it was more in the context of a peculiarity rather than either a technical problem or an opportunity,” Hickman says.
In the beginning of the movement supporting the phenomenon of the generation of methane in sanitary landfills was a group of men and women who acted almost as an independent association and brought about the establishment of the GRCDA/SWANA Landfill Gas Management Division and its annual Landfill Gas Symposium.
It’s viewed as a unique organization within SWANA and the only-one-of-its-kind international symposium dedicated just to the management of landfill gas (LFG).
Introduction of the sanitary landfill as a preferred method of the disposal of solid waste was believed to be the most rapid in California. Large privately owned disposal sites and the emergence of the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles as a major player in the disposal of municipal solid waste led to the growth of deep canyon filled sanitary landfills.
By the early 1970s, odors, occasional surface fires and migration from covered landfills began to raise questions about what problems these somewhat unexpected side effects of the design of sanitary landfills reflected.
Early studies focused on quantification and qualification of the nature of the gas, and, early on, the presence of high percentages of methane signaled potential problems.
“We have to appreciate that there was little or no history of techniques for sampling and analyzing landfill gas,” says Hickman. “However, the petroleum industry—especially the natural gas portion of the petroleum industry—offered analytical methodologies that were adaptable to landfill gas analysis.
“Migration patterns were also studied and the causation of migration was explored. These early studies did much to lay the foundation for eventual development of some common terms and comparable sampling and analytical methodologies.”
The passage of the Solid Waste Disposal Act in 1965 and the commitment of the new USPHS Solid Waste Program to eradicating open dumping and utilization of the sanitary landfill brought about research efforts that began to augment all of the efforts of the early pioneers in landfill gas management.
Highlights of that period were numerous:
- Efforts were made to predict LFG generation rates.
- An explosion at a National Guard Armory in Winston-Salem, NC, heightened the interest in establishing LFG control programs. The significance of migration of LFG to surrounding neighbors brought about concerns of liabilities for landfill owners.
- The Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County made a major investment to address LFG migration at the Palos Verdes sanitary landfill. The eventually led to the first high-Btu LFG recovery system.
- To make the point that LFG was an energy source, Joe Edberg captured LFG from a landfill, generated electricity generated by an LFG-fired internal combustion engine driving a small-kilowatt electric generator to light a Christmas on top of the landfill.
- The first private enterprise, created just to penetrate the LFG to energy market, NRG NuFuel Co., a high-Btu-based enterprise was established.
- A number of consulting engineering firms began to enter the field.
- Two federal agencies entered the picture in the late 1960s. The US Public Health Service Bureau of Solid Waste Management was funding research related to the issues of gas generation rates, technology assessments and spreading the word about the potential of LFG problems at sanitary landfills and the potential benefit of LFG-to-energy.
- The DOE Municipal Waste Program in the early 1970s focused solely on the energy benefits of LFG and technology and systems research to enhance the recovery and utilization of LFG as an energy source.
- The DOE’s Solid Waste Program was committed to building a scientific and engineering base for landfill gas management. Led by Don Walters, the program provided funds to the bring LFG management pioneers together to exchange information and talk about the various systems and technologies being created.
Some were reluctant to disclose the “secret technologies and numbers” to those they considered competitors, which proved to be a major hurdle for the DOE as federal monies could not be used to give one enterprise an advantage over another.
To address this challenge, the DOE awarded a contract to the Johns Hopkins Applied Research Laboratories to plan and organize conferences and referee the fair and open interchange of information. The conferences were the genesis of the SWANA International Landfill Gas Symposia.
The first DOE-sponsored and funded invitation-only conference was in March 1978 at the Johns Hopkins Applied Research Lab in Laurel, MD.
Fred Rice, a SWANA member involved in LFG management from the beginning and a major player in the establishment of the Landfill Gas Management Division within SWANA, says the evolution of the Symposium and Landfill Gas Management in the US began in 1978, when interest in LFG management had reached a point where support from the DOE Waste-to-Energy program had resulted in the program funding a gathering of the leaders in the LFG management growing industry.
Johns Hopkins Applied Research Laboratories were provided funding to bring the leaders together in a “show and tell” on control technologies, analytical procedures, and markets, among other topics.
That first meeting, in Laurel, MD, was the origin of the current SWANA Landfill Gas Symposium.
In 1978, a number of consulting firms had entered into the development of LFG projects, notably Lockman Associates, SCS Engineers, and EMCON Associates.
Fred Rice of Getty Synthetic Fuels and John Pacey of EMCON Associates urged the LFG group to consider approaching GRCDA on a possible partnership. Hickman agreed, making four proposals:
- GRCDA would establish a Landfill Gas Management Committee to provide services to the LFG group and to represent LFG interests in Washington, DC.
- All of the services for which an independent LFG association was thought to be needed would be provided by GRCDA.
- No special fees or costs would be assessed the LFG group other than the standard GRCDA membership rates.
- GRCDA would work with the current Johns Hopkins Laboratories and other DOE contractors to assist them in the planning of the annual conference.
After discussions including Rice, Paley, and a representative from the California State Department of Health, the LFG group organized the initial GRCDA LFG Management Committee.
Following the formation of the GRCDA LFG Management Committee, efforts began by the committee to get organized, establish a database of LFG interests and to have a more formal process for the formation of the annual symposium.
A number of subcommittees were formed and the development of a number of manuals of best practice began. GRCDA began formal discussions with DOE regarding its plans for the future support of the symposium and the interrelationship between their programs and GRCDA interests. Similar discussions were also held with the EPA’s Solid Waste Office.
At an LFG Management Committee annual business meeting, Hickman informed the committee that the DOE had initially planned to fund the symposium for just a few years as a stimulus for establishing a focus on LFG Management and that 1982 would be the last year of its financial support. He laid out a number of options for the committee to consider and made several proposals:
- The committee must recognize that, for the symposium to succeed, it should be self-supporting.
- The committee had to take full responsibility for the technical quality of the programs offered at the symposium.
- The symposium would continue to be developed and offered as a specialty technical conference and not a trade show.
- When possible, symposium sites should be near LFG projects.
- GRCDA would take all financial risks. Any funds after expenses would go into the GRCDA general account. GRCDA would pledge to ensure funding for the LFG Management Committee and would provide staff support for committee activities.
- Working with the committee, promotion and management of the symposium would be under the auspices of GRCDA.
The Committee agreed. Discussions then focused on the 1983 symposium, and it was decided that to improve the financial chances that the sixth symposium should be held in California, probably in the LA basin. Industry Hills was proposed as the preferred site, and GRCDA staff were assigned the task of securing a symposium venue.
In 1983, the symposium was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Industry Hills, CA, near an 18-hole golf course built on a closed landfill. The LFG Management Committee issued its first practices and procedures manual.
In 1988, the 11th symposium was held in Houston, TX. The symposium was dominated with discussions about the planned EPA regulations of LFG emissions. A special regulatory subcommittee was established to track, interact with the EPA, and provide input and comments as the EPA regulation development process proceeded.
The subcommittee expanded to bring in the National League of Cities and National Association of Counties and was labeled the Solid Waste Action Committee (SWAC), bringing political clout of local governments into the picture and giving SWANA improved access to Congress.
In 1989, the 12th symposium was held in California. Tax credits for LFG projects were extended by the US Congress for one year. Working to keep the tax credits became an ongoing effort by SWANA and the Landfill Gas Management Division. Special funding was established to help finance the effort.
In 1990, the 13th symposium was held in Lincolnshire, IL. A number of meetings to provide input and comments of drafts of the LFG New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) were held with EPA in the Research Triangle in North Carolina and Washington DC throughout 1989 and 1990. In 1990, SWANA formally submitted six sets of comments on EPA’s New Source Performance Standards.
From 1990 to 1995, SWANA and its partners in SWAC held a number of meetings with a number of key points emerging:
- The agency was using flawed landfill screening criteria and data on which to base its proposed regulations.
- The proposed Method 2E was too complex and rigid.
- It had failed to use good engineering practice.
- It had used invalid data for the basis of the Lo and k factors.
- In the opinion of SWANA’s/SWAC’s world-recognized LFG management experts, the proposed rule was technically flawed.
- The economic analysis to determine economic impact of the proposed rule was unrealistic and low.
- The “cookie cutter” approach for selecting landfills for regulation was invalid.
- The agency was including too many landfills to achieve reasonable reduction of emissions from landfills.
Toward the end of 1995, it was obvious that the regulated community (SWANA and SWAC stakeholders) and the EPA air pollution group charged with writing the rule were at an impasse.
“It was obvious that the EPA group was going to move forward with a flawed rule that would probably not achieve the intent of the rule and would throw a regulatory net over way too many landfills,” says Hickman.
“The position of SWANA created a firestorm of pressure on EPA to reconsider the scope of the rule and to get EPA upper air pollution involved in the conflict between SWANA/SWAC and the EPA rule development group. This pressure led to an agreement between the agency’s air pollution decision makers and the regulated shareholders.”
The night before the meeting, the SWANA/SWAC group met at the SWANA offices in Silver Spring to plot a strategy for the next day’s meeting. The group consisted of representatives from the National League of Cities, National Association of Counties and SWANA representatives Greg Vogt, of SCS Engineers, Fred Rice, and Lanny Hickman.
The group decided to put a proposal on the table at the meeting the next day rooted in a fish-or-cut-bait position. The group proposed that the cutoff size of landfills to be regulated should be 2.5 million tons of planned/actual tonnage of capacity. The result of the proposal would capture 90% of the gas emissions and only have to regulate 10% of the landfills.
The stakeholders also suggested a modification of the Lo and k factors. At the meeting the next day, the proposal was presented. “Their key guy said, ‘That seems reasonable to me. Is there any reason we cannot accept their proposal?’ Obviously, his staff agreed to his request. We were totally dumfounded and many of us wondered why we had not asked for such a meeting earlier,” Hickman said.
Over the next several months, SWANA representatives—led by Greg Vogt and SWANA staff—worked with the EPA to complete the rule. The resolution between the EPA and the SWANA Landfill Gas Management Division clearly established the division as a key player in future landfill-gas management efforts in the EPA, Hickman says.
In 1991, the 14th symposium was held in San Diego, CA. As was usual, when the meeting was held in California, attendance was high. The technical program was highlighted with a variety of technical and management policy issues related to the EPA developing LFG NSPS.
In addition, efforts led by Bernie Zehran of Zehran Energy to gain Congress’ continuation of the tax credit for landfill-gas-to-energy project continued.
In 1992, the 15th LFG Symposium was held in Arlington, VA, just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. It was the first time the symposium was held in the environs of the US Capitol. It enabled EPA representatives to be included in the program. Additionally, SWANA and its LFG members were able to schedule a number of Capitol Hill visits with the staff and members of House and Senate committees who affected the LFG management industry, including tax credits, alternative energy, and regulation, among others.
Over the time period of 1992 and 1993, SWANA issued the SWANA LFG Field Practices Manual, the first SWANA LFG Training Course, and a SWANA Total Quality Management Video on the Conversion of LFG to CNG.
In 1994, the 17th symposium was held in Long Beach, CA. Monitoring, meetings, and testimony at hearings continued on both of the key technical-policy fronts of the LFG Management Division: tax credits and LFG NSPS. In 1994, SWANA issued Specifications for the Construction of LFG Recovery Systems.
In 1995, the 18th symposium was held in New Orleans, LA. The development of the LFG NSPS was drawing near the end of the process.
“Issues remained between the EPA and SWANA and it was apparent that technical differences might ever be resolved,” says Hickman. “SWANA and the LFG Management Division escalates their efforts beyond just being a bunch of ‘techies.’”
A meeting between SWANA stakeholders and EPA air regulation management was held and agreement was reached for a resolution of the technical and policy issues.
Over the past several years, SWANA had increased international presence, primarily working with ISWA. Through the encouragement of SWANA, ISWA expanded its Landfill Working Group to include LFG specialists. SWANA named Greg Vogt of SCS Engineers as its LFG representatives. Fred Rice issued the first of his Gas Roots history of LFG management in the United States.
In 1996, the 19th Symposium was held in North Carolina’s Research Triangle. Since its inception, when the LFG group and Lanny Hickman struck a deal to house the LFG group in GRCDA/SWANA and launched the symposium as a property of SWANA, the symposium had always been a technical program without a trade show.
“However, pressure from within the LFG Management Division’s membership to add a limited-size technical trade show was argued for and against by the membership and SWANA management,” says Hickman. “An agreement on the limits and nature of a trade show with a clear commitment to not interfere with the technical program was struck, and the first trade show to become an extended part of the symposium took place in 1996.”
The biggest news in 1996 was the issuance of the LFG NSPS for Landfill Gas Management Systems.
In 1997, the 20th symposium was held in Monterey, CA. By 1997, SWANA’s Landfill Gas Management Division and the EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) had matured into a cooperative effort. The symposium was maturing and sought noted speakers to kick off the meetings. In 1997, Professor Bob Ham from the University of Wisconsin—who had been working in the field since his Ph.D. candidate days—was the opening speaker.
The SWANA LFGMD completed and issued their Operations and Maintenance Manual for LFG Waste-to-Energy Systems.
Partnering with LMOP, the division also released a video about LFG, its energy value and controlling methane in LFG.
Over time, the symposium grew into an international technical specialty conference and “the meeting to attend” if one wanted to keep up with the evolution of the landfill gas management industry. It continues to grow and expand as a pre-eminent technical program focused on an important part of solid waste management. MSW
Source: Information for this chronology is drawn from “A Summary of SWANA History,” written by SWANA staff members.