How long have you been in the industry? 40 years—three years with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, 34 years with PSE&G and three years with DRBA.
How did you get involved? What was your first job? As a Civil Engineering student in the 1970s at the University of Delaware, my freshman engineering project was on solid waste landfills/design. Up until that point I referred to these facilities as dumps where we took our trash every Saturday—directly to the working face of the landfill. I developed a better appreciation of engineered design facilities versus open dumps. Shortly after, I transferred to Merrimack College and changed my major to Environmental Sciences, and RCRA was authorized and solid/hazardous waste had a whole new meaning.
My first environmental job after college was as an Environmental Specialist at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection – Bureau of Hazardous Waste Enforcement. As a RCRA state inspector I was one of six statewide to enforce implementation of the RCRA solid and hazardous waste regulations for USEPA and NJDEP.
Who/What was your biggest influence? After several years of being the Environmental Policy Manager – Waste for PSE&G, I had an opportunity to manage the Corporate Materials Resource Recovery Group, which was part of a new Materials Management Process that ultimately morphed into Supply Chain Management. That job afforded me, for the first time, a chance to work within a process where the solid and hazardous waste generated within the company could be linked and tied to upstream design criteria and purchasing practices. The alignment enabled my group to influence what was being purchased, product substitutions and investment recovery opportunities with non-performing assets versus scrapping or landfilling. Ultimately, the process enabled the company to reduce waste and achieve a recycling rate of greater than 90 percent for more than 10 years. The sustained performance lead to awards with the USEPA Wastewise Program and achieving Hall of Fame status for the company.
What has been your most unique/interesting experience over the years? One of my most interesting experiences occurred in 1990 when I was part of a Corporate Team that was responsible for developing and achieving the first Corporate Environmental Goals for PSE&G. I was the waste sponsor with the responsibility to develop hazardous waste reduction and solid waste recycling goals for the corporation. These goals were the precursor to company environmental scorecards set years later. The interesting part of this experience was that the company had no waste accounting system or awareness of just how much waste was generated. Bottom line was, we needed to know where we were to figure out how to develop a realistic goal and achieve it. Working with employees and our trade group, EPRI, a waste accounting system was developed to measure and track waste. We also realized that waste management was not our core business, so a supplier relationship program was developed having waste management suppliers work collaboratively with us to track, measure and achieve our corporate goals.
What do you see as the biggest challenges to the industry today? I think one of the biggest challenges today is public education and that waste management is not a downstream or curbside issue but needs to be tied to product manufacturing and consumers’ buying behaviors. There is a need for more advancement in producer responsibility and ties to waste disposal/recycling cost with product cost.
What do you like most about being in the industry/your job? The most rewarding thing about the environmental industry and my job is that you leave work each day with a feeling that in some small way you are improving the environment and hopefully leaving it better than the way you found it. The other enjoyment about the solid waste and recycling industry is the constant interface with people whether they be employees, regulators or members of the public. I enjoy problem solving and helping people understand the value and importance of environmental protection, resource management and not viewing waste as having no value, but something that is a misplaced resource.
Hobbies: Spending time on the beach and with my grandchildren.
Last vacation: Charleston, SC
Words to live by: Don’t worry about the homerun…you win ball games with singles. | WA