Michael Keleman, InSinkErator’s manager of environmental engineering and marketing, is one of two co-facilitators for the Greater Racine Zero Waste Initiative, a local effort to stave off the landfill’s closure, with all the costs and difficulties that will bring. Keleman said the Zero Waste Initiative started about two years ago with Racine City Administrator Jim Palenick looking over the proverbial horizon at the landfill’s limited remaining usability. So, Palenick headed up the start of what became the Zero Waste Initiative, Keleman said.
And about a year ago, Palenick recognized that the effort needed to include Caledonia, Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant, Keleman said. Now there is participation from those communities, and Zero Waste meets about monthly. “It’s kind of a collaboration between Visioning Greater Racine and Greening Greater Racine,” said Zero Waste’s other co-facilitator: David Rhoads, a retired college religion/New Testament teacher.
Keleman, who came from the wastewater industry before he joined InSinkErator, explained his participation in Zero Waste: “If you think about it, after recycling, food waste is the largest portion of the garbage: 20-30%. So, disposers have a very key role in helping reduce what we send to the landfills.”
But the Zero Waste Initiative is reaching far beyond trying to help promote garbage disposer use. The group has a list of nine areas in which it is trying to work, from reducing the use of Styrofoam containers at restaurants to cutting food waste and increasing recycling in school cafeterias.
One effort underway, Rhoads said, is a survey of area grocery stores regarding single-use plastic bags. The purpose is to see what stores currently do, and what they might be willing to do in the future to reduce the use of plastic bags.