Sustainable Materials Management

National Expert: Michelle Leonard

Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) represents a change in how our society thinks about using natural resources and environmental protection. SMM is an approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycle to ensure we have resources to meet our needs today and in the future.

zero waste plans
Pathways to Sustainable Materials Management

SCS Engineers is an innovative force in developing new waste diversion programs. We designed one of the first e-waste collection events in California and studied the feasibility of a diaper recycling facility – the first in the United States. We are still leading the charge to sustainable materials management through innovative policies, programs, and infrastructure that increase diversion, reduce contamination, recycle more materials, and manage costs.

SCS offers comprehensive services to assist in achieving your SMM goals and reducing your carbon footprint. We offer technical expertise and the financial, regulatory, and educational skills to develop cost-effective and sustainable programs.

Our Sustainable Materials Management practice includes:

  • Solid waste and materials management /Zero Waste plans
  • Waste characterization and generation studies
  • Waste reduction, reuse, and recycling program design and implementation
  • Public outreach and education programs
  • Financial analysis and rate studies, collection and efficiency assessments, and organizational assessments
  • Organics diversion, including collection, composting, and anaerobic digestion facility design, permitting, and engineering
  • Waste conversion and WTE facility design, permitting, engineering, and compliance
  • Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and transfer station design, permitting, engineering, and compliance

Many municipalities in the United States have prepared, adopted, and are implementing Sustainable Materials Management Plans. These plans establish various waste goals, ranging from 70% diversion up to 100% diversion, with timeframes of 10 to 20 years. Depending on your needs SCS will design programs to help you meet TRUE Zero Waste certification system compliance, which compliments LEED and other green rating systems.

The keys to an effective SMM/Zero Waste plan are incorporating both upstream and downstream policies and programs. Upstream policies include extended producer responsibility policies for hard-to-handle materials and packaging, or community-based social marketing efforts and media campaigns. Downstream programs include material bans, mandatory food scraps or recyclables collection, and programs that target specific sectors, such as single-family, commercial businesses, hotels, and restaurants.

SCS’s planning process includes the following steps:

  • Establishing goals and guiding principles
  • Engaging stakeholders and policymakers
  • Conducting a needs assessment
  • Establishing evaluation criteria and process
  • Evaluating options and developing scenarios
  • Assigning resources, estimating costs, and developing financial models
  • Creating implementation, outreach, and monitoring plans

New technologies and innovative facilities offer economically sustainable and environmentally responsible solutions to manage and process both household and commercial wastes. One solution for export restrictions and contamination is facilities that recover a sustainable supply of competitively priced raw materials and in-demand commodities with high specificity for re-sale markets. These facilities employ additional processes for generating clean cellulose, engineered fuels, and biogas from traditionally non-recyclable materials.

SCS Engineers will:

  • Evaluate facilities for their ability to process materials to the highest and best use
  • Review permitting requirements and restrictions
  • Evaluate the environmental impacts of a proposed facility
  • Design facility best management practices
  • Monitor operations and maintenance

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