I am looking forward to meeting many of you and renewing long-standing friendships at WASTECON in Orlando. While I have attended close to a dozen WASTECONs, this will be the first time I will be there proudly wearing a SWANA shirt and representing this great association.
In my first few months at SWANA, I have had the privilege of meeting hundreds of members at chapter events from coast-to-coast. The energy and enthusiasm at these meetings was contagious. At several, the SWANA chapters partnered with other associations that share our mission and goals. I encourage our chapters to look for appropriate partners for their events as a way to expand opportunities, improve attendance, and increase revenue.
SWANA has had some significant successes during the past few months: Membership is at a record high level—about 8,320 members—and 138 individuals joined in June, a 40% increase compared to June 2014. We are off to a strong start attracting new members in July as well.
We are taking steps to expand SWANA’s safety program and provide useful resources to the industry—both public and private sector. More than 100 people participated in our June safety webinar. We are planning a follow up webinar focusing on post-collection safety issues for the fall. The WASTECON Safety Summit has been expanded (details below). We applied to the federal government for grant funding to provide safety training to the industry in 2016. If awarded the grant, I am confident it will propel SWANA into a more prominent leadership role regarding safety in the waste industry.
Consistent with the new Strategic Plan, we are taking important initial steps to strengthen ties with federal agencies in Washington D.C. We have met with high level officials at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Department of Commerce concerning possible partnership opportunities. EPA has tentatively agreed to again hold its Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) event at SWANApalooza in Charleston, SC, in April 2016.
WASTECON promises to be an exciting event, with many opportunities to network, learn, and have fun. In addition to the excellent educational program and technical sessions, we have added two high-profile MegaSession speakers whose presentations should be entirely consistent with our theme of “Inventing the Future of Solid Waste Management.”
First, New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Kathryn Garcia will speak about the challenges and opportunities she faces running the largest municipal sanitation department in North America. As DSNY’s first female Commissioner, she is a groundbreaking figure, and I am eager to hear her discuss New York City’s recently announced OneNYC plan. This ambitious Plan, announced on Earth Day 2015 by Mayor Bill DiBlasio, seeks to reduce disposal of DSNY-collected waste by 90% by 2030.
Second, Nate Morris, CEO of Rubicon Global, will discuss his company’s efforts to provide waste and recycling services that deliver sustainable solutions and cost reductions. Recently described as the Uber for trash collection, Rubicon’s intriguing business model has the potential to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
The popular Safety Summit is expanded to five sessions over three days, plus a truck inspection on the WASTECON show floor. Attendees will learn how to prevent and respond to fires on trucks and at facilities, how a large Florida municipality improved safety at its solid waste department, the latest and greatest tips on complying with OSHA and Department of Transportation rules, and lessons from other industries about how to reduce accidents and injuries. Improving the industry’s safety performance must be a top priority for all of us, regardless of where we work.
Other creative changes to improve the WASTECON experience for exhibitors and attendees include holding the Opening Reception on Monday night on the show floor, adding a 5K fun run, and a variety of tours of nearby waste facilities.
As you prepare for an exciting week in Orlando in late August, I want to ask you each for a personal favor. Think about who in your agency or company is not a SWANA member that should be. Think about who in your chapter is nearing retirement age, and whether his or her replacement is familiar with the terrific benefits of SWANA membership. Welcome new members and educate them about our chapter and national events, training and certification programs, and other networking and educational opportunities.
In particular, I need each of you to identify the ambitious younger employees at your organizations, and suggest to them that they become Young Professional (YP) members of SWANA. As in many associations, a significant percentage of SWANA’s current leadership is looking forward to retirement. We must groom the next generation of leaders in the industry and the association. SWANA’s YP program, which is growing annually, is a terrific opportunity for those 35 or younger to join at a sharply reduced cost and receive targeted educational and networking opportunities that will help them in their careers.
This is an amazing association, filled with wonderful, smart, enthusiastic, and kind individuals. I remain honored to have been selected SWANA’s Executive Director, and I’m excited to meet you at WASTECON or another upcoming SWANA event.