SWANA NEWS: Dumpster Diving with Intel’s Waste & Recycling Manager

Meet Taimur Burki and Learn About His Work at Intel

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Take that step up in your career and register for the SWANA Training Center.Over the past two decades, Intel’s business and its recycling rate have both grown tremendously; in 2018, the American technology manufacturer generated $70.8 billion in revenue, and recycled 90 percent of its non-hazardous waste, sending just four percent of its hazardous waste to landfill. Taimur Burki, an Intel sustainability leader and global waste program manager, drove that change both as an individual and from an enterprise level.

Taimur Burki will be speaking at WASTECON® in Phoenix, Ariz., on Thursday, October 24, to talk about his successes, failures, and unique insight into what it takes to transform an organization’s culture to achieve a lasting and sustainable waste management program. We caught up with Taimur to discuss his work at Intel, lessons learned, and dumpster diving!

SWANA: Intel has a goal of zero hazardous waste to landfill by 2020. What progress has Intel made on this journey?

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Taimur Burki (TB): In 2018, we sent just four percent of our hazardous waste to landfill—and since 2010, we’ve kept that number below five percent. But as the rate has fluctuated slightly from year to year, it’s a good reminder that it’s an ongoing journey. We can’t just hit our goal one year and cross it off of our list. We’ll continue to look for ways to repurpose our waste and recycle more in partnership with our customers, suppliers, and the community.

What are some of your “lessons learned” from Intel’s experience with sustainability?

TB: That it’s important to have both a top-down and bottom-up approach to driving change in this space. It’s easy to decide, for example, we’ll just remove disposables from our cafés, but without the support of employees, it’s not going to be successful—as I personally learned in 2013. You’ve also got to get your hands dirty; you really can’t effectively manage a sustainability program from your desk. You need to be diving in dumpsters and walking your site to understand what’s really going on.

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What do you foresee as the company’s greatest sustainability challenges going forward?

TB: As Intel’s technology gets more complex, one of our greatest sustainability challenges will be managing our environmental footprint and at the same time growing the ways we use our technology to help others drive reductions in their own environmental footprints.

How successful has Intel been in incorporating sustainability into its strategic and everyday business decisions?

TB: From my perspective, we’ve been quite successful in building a culture that encourages employees to incorporate sustainability into their work. We’ve also been lucky in that we’ve had executive support—in this respect, it’s important to demonstrate the business value of this work.

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What insights do you hope WASTECON® attendees will take away from your keynote?

TB: Everyone should dive into a dumpster every now and then! All kidding aside, as waste professionals, we think a lot about garbage. My challenge would be for WASTECON® attendees to think about how you can help your customers rethink what “waste” actually means. As we’ve done at Intel, changing our mindset to think about waste in a more holistic way has been one of the most important drivers of our ability to reduce the amount of waste we are sending to landfill.

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Taimur Burki is an accomplished environmental and sustainability leader recognized for the significant outcomes he has driven across Intel’s global operations in waste management, green buildings, and water conservation. Taimur has influenced Intel to LEED certify more than 17 million square feet of building space, achieve a 90+ percent recycling rate at more than 50 Intel locations, divert more than 95 percent of Intel’s hazardous waste from landfill, and conserve 60 billion gallons of water globally over the past two decades of his career. He holds a master’s degree in Environmental Impact Assessment from the University of Wales at Aberystwyth, and a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in Biology. Taimur leverages his exceptional knowledge and expertise to drive change across the broader technology industry and beyond.

Make sure you catch Taimur Burki’s presentation, as well as many other industry leaders, at WASTECON®! Visit WASTECON.org for more information and to register.

Connecting Through MySWANA

Breaking down SWANA’s online hub and its benefits for members

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One of the most valuable benefits of membership in SWANA is the ability to participate in MySWANA. As a private social network and online community, MySWANA is exclusively for SWANA members. Through MySWANA, members can connect with their fellow peers, ask questions, and so much more.

While SWANA has a presence and is active with online social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram, MySWANA is the hub of the SWANA interactive online community. Whether it is connecting with fellow Technical Division members, accessing a document from the vast SWANA eLibrary, reading the latest blog posting, or being a mentor or mentee through MentorMatch, MySWANA is the place for online member engagement.

SWANA members have indicated that MySWANA provides a great value to their membership. Ernie Ruiz, Landfill-MRF Superintendent with the city of Glendale, Arizona, said, “I can honestly say that MySWANA has been one of the most expedient ways to gather solid waste information from across North America. It’s a great resource to have at your fingertips when you need a quick turnaround on information sometimes not readily available. I love MySWANA!”

For those that are new to MySWANA, the Open Forum is a great place to start your journey. It is on this site that you will find a wide variety of subjects being discussed and the area where you can connect with your fellow SWANA members. Don Alexander, Civil Engineer Associate II with the Marion County Public Works in Salem, Oregon, says that “MySWANA [has] been a valuable resource for information and research on a variety of solid waste topics and I will continue to use as one of my go to sources of information.”

It is through MySWANA that members can interact with Technical Divisions (TD) through the individual communities. Each TD community provides an area for discussion posts, library, blogs, and membership rosters where you can connect with fellow TD members. With over 1,100 members, the Landfill Management is the most popular and most active TD group on MySWANA.

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SWANA established MentorMatch two years ago. Through the MentorMatch tab on MySWANA, members can participate in the program as either a mentor or mentee. For an experienced professional, being a mentor is a great way to guide the next generational of solid waste and recycling professionals. For a Young Professional or student, being a mentee connects you with an industry veteran that can provide invaluable guidance. For more information and to get involved in MentorMatch, visit community.swana.org/mentoring.

One of the more active members on MySWANA, Bhushan Goyal, a M.Eng student at the University of British Columbia and a summer intern with the City of Vancouver, said, “As an engineer, from the very beginning SWANA has been very helpful in my professional work. I have had the opportunity to connect with many professionals hosting a myriad of different insights and ideas. I am very happy to be a part of the MySWANA community.”

If you are a member of SWANA and you haven’t visited MySWANA, you are encouraged to do so. If you are not a member of SWANA, you can join SWANA at swana.org/Membership/JoinSWANA and become an active participant on MySWANA.

SWANA Training Center Goes to Phoenix, Arizona

Training co-located at WASTECON® 2019

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Start on a new path at the SWANA Training Center! Co-located at WASTECON® in Phoenix, Ariz., October 21–24, the SWANA Training Center offers learning, creativity, and collaboration. Learn from the leading source of solid waste training. Choose from many challenging courses to learn, share, and explore with other solid waste professionals. Take advantage of two- or three-day training courses, or the CEU FasTrack option for recertification to get the most out of your solid waste and recycling professional development.

Taking a SWANA training course at WASTECON® gives you a unique training experience. You will have access to the best training faculty, who are not only knowledgeable about the course, but have also worked in the field. Network with a classroom of peers and trade ideas, solutions, and experiences. You will also have access to networking and social events that will be a part of WASTECON®.

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CEU FasTrack is the fastest and easiest way to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to renew your SWANA certifications. Earn up to 30 CEUs—all at one time in one place.

WASTECON® is the solid waste industry event to help public sector solid waste leaders and their teams plan sustainable futures for their communities. Mandatory attendance at two daily meetings and pre-selected education sessions is required to receive CEUs. Time is provided for participants to design their own experience.

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As a participant in this facilitated program for SWANA-certified individuals, you will:

  • Learn from thought leaders on relevant industry topics
  • Engage in discussions about common issues and challenges
  • Attend conference education sessions and keynote addresses
  • Network with industry professionals from across North America
  • Discover solutions to “what keeps you up at night” in the exhibit hall.

Registration includes the Renewal Fee for one certification PLUS all Keynote and technical break-out sessions, Opening Reception, Wednesday Networking Event (must RSVP in advance), WASTECON® Tradeshow, and conference proceedings.

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Two-Day Courses—20 CEUs

  • Managing MSW Collection Systems
  • Three-Day Courses—30 CEUs
    • Managing Composting Programs
    • Manager of Landfill Operations (MOLO)
    • Managing Integrated Solid Waste Management Systems
    • Zero Waste Principles and Practices (in partnership with CRRA)

    Take your certification exam onsite to get the most out of your week. The SWANA Exam Center allows you to take the exam while the material is still fresh in your mind.

    Certification Exams

    • Composting Programs
    • Construction and Demolition Materials Management
    • HHW & CESQG Collection Facility Operations
    • MOLO
    • Leachate Recirculation and Bioreactor Landfill Management
    • Managing MSW Collection Systems
    • Recycling Systems
    • Transfer Station Management
    • Zero Waste Principles and Practices


    • Organics Collection Certificate
    • Landfill Operations Certificate

    The SWANA Training Center gives you a one-stop solution for all your training needs. Let us help you step up in your position and move ahead in your career. For more information and to register for the SWANA Training Center, visit WASTECON.org.

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    SWANA Issues Canadian Recycling Myths vs. Facts Sheet

    Association urges the media to provide accurate information about the state of recycling in Canada.

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    In response to misleading and confusing information reported about the state of recycling in Canada, SWANA has developed a flyer that provides current and accurate data on this important topic.

    The challenges facing Canadian recycling increased when China imposed restrictions on the import of recovered plastics and paper in 2018. These restrictions have highlighted areas for improvement but have not changed the importance of recycling in Canada. Unfortunately, misinformed stories about the futility of recycling have been published, leading to unnecessary confusion. SWANA’s “Recycling: Myths vs. Facts” flyer addresses some of the common misconceptions, including that recycling is “failing” or “collapsing” and that it isn’t worth the effort anymore.

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    According to David Biderman, SWANA CEO and Executive Director, “there are abundant reasons to be optimistic about the future of recycling in Canada. Additional domestic processing capacity is coming online over the next few years in North America that will help correct the current imbalance between supply and demand for recovered paper and plastic. Also, many communities are focused on reducing contamination and recycling facilities are upgrading their equipment and slowing down their lines to produce higher quality material.”

    The flyer addresses one of the most persistent myths surrounding recycling, which is that no one knows how to address the challenges that the industry is currently facing. SWANA wants to make it clear that although it’s not simple, solutions are being implemented. Public education and enforcement of local rules motivate people to recycle right. Recycling facilities are embracing new technologies such as robotics to keep up with changing market requirements and material streams. New facilities are opening and existing ones are expanding, providing more demand for recyclables. Organizations are considering redesign, reuse, and repair to address hard-to-recycle items.

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    “Although the recycling industry is currently having some difficulties marketing some of their materials, the industry isn’t broken,” says Art Mercer, SWANA’s International Secretary. “Materials are recycled into new products and this has many benefits, such as energy and resource conservation. Just because it is temporarily difficult to market some of the items, this is no reason to stop recycling and throw these items away, often filling up landfills. Also, we need to remember that we all have a responsibility to reduce the items we buy and throw away. Recycling is not the only solution.”

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    SWANA previously developed a similar flyer focused on recycling in the United States, which is available as part of a downloadable Recycling Media Kit. This flyer made it clear to the public what is happening in the industry and gave reporters a fact sheet to check their stories. SWANA wants to spread awareness of what is happening in the recycling industry in a way that everyone can understand. Because of this, SWANA encourages media representatives to reach out with any questions they have.

    Please contact SWANA’s subject matter experts on all things recycling:

    David Biderman, Executive Director and CEO:
    Email: dbiderman@swana.org
    Phone: 240-494-2254

    Jesse Maxwell, Manager of Advocacy and Safety:
    Email: jmaxwell@swana.org
    Phone: 240-494-2237

    For more information on SWANA, visit swana.org.

    For more information and to download the SWANA Recycling Media Kit, visit swana.org/Resources/RecyclingResources.

    Thank You, Frank Caponi!

    SWANA recognizes Frank Caponi for his term as SWANA President

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    Frank Caponi is a professional environmental engineer with more than 25 years of experience in the solid waste management field. He is the supervising engineer of the Solid Waste Management Air Quality Engineering Section for Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts (LACSD). He is responsible for all LACSD solid waste management air quality programs. Facilities under his responsibility include three active landfills (one of which is the largest landfill in the United States), three inactive landfills, and a municipal waste combustor. The landfills contain state-of-the-art landfill gas management equipment (a combustion turbine, flaring facilities, boilers, and a clean fuel facility). Frank heads a staff of civil, mechanical, and chemical engineers responsible for permitting of all solid waste management projects, design review, emission source testing, dispersion modeling, health risk assessment preparation, and determining compliance of solid waste facilities with federal, state, and local air quality regulations.

    He serves as a primary liaison with federal, state, and local air quality agencies, and sits on several agency committees. He also acts as an expert witness in all variance and appeal cases with the South Coast Air Quality Management District, as well as providing expert testimony at air quality hearings.

    Frank is active in professional societies and filled the President position on the SWANA International Board from August 2018—June 2019. He has published several papers and has prepared and presented talks on a wide range of air quality and solid waste management topics.

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    “I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people that I hadn’t met before at SWANA and I think that was probably the best part of the whole deal,” says Frank. “There’s a lot of people out there doing a lot of good things.”

    SWANA released a video interview with Frank and his time serving as President. In the video, Frank talks about how he got involved in SWANA and solid waste and found himself in a leadership position, and his advice to those starting out in their career.

    Watch the whole interview at https://bit.ly/2ZoK39x.

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