Meet many SCS professionals at SWANA WASTECON 2021, which will be held at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida (Orlando area), November 1-4, 2021.
SWANA’s WASTECON® helps public sector solid waste leaders and their teams plan sustainable futures for their communities. WASTECON has been retooled into an enlightening and engaging executive-level event. The conference has been curated especially for solid waste leaders to immerse themselves in the latest executive topics. Each solid waste leader contributes to this diverse learning and networking experience that makes this a truly unique industry event.
More details to be posted at the conference takes shape, including presentations to be delivered by SCS professionals.
2021 Iowa Recycling and Solid Waste Management Conference
October 4, 2021
The Iowa Recycling and Solid Waste Management Conference planning committee is diligently working on hosting an in-person conference October 4-6, 2021, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex. Naturally, we’ll be attending if at all possible. So get your vaccine and plan to head to Cedar Rapids in October.
Check back; more information to come! We are recycling it here 🙂
Posted by Diane Samuels at 12:00 am
Air & Waste Management Association’s ACE 2021 is Virtual
June 14, 2021
The Air & Waste Management Association’s 114th Annual Conference and Exhibition (ACE) will be held virtually, June 14-17, 2021. The conference theme is “Environmental Resiliency for Tomorrow”.
The conference was originally scheduled to take place in Orlando, however in the interest of safety, conference organizers have created a fully-virtual, interactive format with unparalleled technical content delivered through many livestream sessions, on-demand videos, and recorded presentations, as well as interactive Q&A and networking opportunities for authors, attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors. There are also special events for women, students, and young professionals.
ACE 2021 will unite professionals from major industry, private sector, consulting, government and education for an exciting event that will explore the ever-expanding environmental challenges and provide solutions to becoming and remaining resilient for tomorrow. This is an ideal opportunity for professionals to share their knowledge to advance the industry, and for environmental companies to showcase their products, services, and solutions with professionals motivated to build a more resilient and sustainable world.
The livestream program will feature 23 technical sessions, including:
EPA Priorities 2021‐2022
PFAS Emerging Contaminant Regulatory Trends, Research and Remediation Updates
New Source Review (NSR): Issues and Recent Developments
Regional Haze and Aerosol Optical Properties
Electric Power industry ‐ Clean Air Act Accomplishments
PM2.5 Implementation Issues
AERMOD Modeling System Updates with U.S. EPA
Corporate Sustainability: Plans, Programs, Metrics, and Analytics
Climate Risk, Modelling, and MET data
E‐Enterprise for the Environment
How Does it Work? Recycling
Innovative Uses of Earth observations within NASA HAQAST v2.0
Waste Issues Roundtable
PM, VOC, NOx and Mercury Control Technologies
Technical program highlights:
The live Keynote Plenary Session will feature high level representatives from the Biden administration that will discuss their plans to tackle climate change as well as industry representatives that will share their vision on facing the climate challenges of the future.
51st Annual Critical Review (live) on Cancer and PFOA, by Scott M. Bartell and Verónica M. Vieira, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of California, Irvine.
The Mini-Symposium on Environmental Resiliency
Over 25panels featuring experts who will discuss the latest issues in technology and regulation including:
Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
EPA Priorities 2021-2022
New Source Review
GHG/CO2 Control Technologies & Strategies
Regional Haze and Aerosol Optical Properties
Clean Air Act Accomplishments for the Electric Power Industry
Air Permitting, Legislation, and Policy Developments
How Does It Work? Introductory Sessions for young professionals and students
How Does It Work? Solid Waste and Recycling
How Does It Work? Energy Production
How Does It Work? Environmental, Social, Governance
How Does It Work? Stack Testing
Combined technical and student poster session with audio and video recordings, live Q & A and more
Lisa Coelho, pictured far left and right above, is a California girl, but it was a trip to Ethiopia that inevitably brought her to SCS Engineer’s West Coast hub. When she made that 7,000-mile trek, she had no idea she’d later land where she is now; she’d been traveling a very different path.
She was studying agricultural engineering, thinking she wanted to grow food. But now Coelho is about getting on top of the glut of nutritious edibles that already exist, rather than making more of them. Her title is Sustainability Materials Management Specialist. Her job: developing strategies to keep organics and some other materials out of landfills and make sure what’s of value is used as intended. And she teaches communities how to manage their discards.
What brought her to Ethiopia was a service project to help develop better systems to grow food.
“I asked a council of elders [knowledgeable of old traditions of the area] about their sustainability practices. I wanted to look at their long-standing practices before suggesting another way,” Coelho reflects.
They told her they don’t throw out the stock of kale; they eat it. They save and regrow the potato eyes. And they compost almost all their scraps to amend their soil.
“It was eye-opening to see what they were doing – going back to basics to grow food and respect land,” she recalls.
Then came a second epiphany.
“I’d flown thousands of miles to help feed people, and some of them said, ‘thank you, but aren’t there people where you live who need help?’ It was like, ding! That’s right!”
She knew that in the U.S., unlike Ethiopia, the quandary is not a lack of food; rather that roughly 40% of it gets tossed. She switched to Environmental Science, wanting to develop approaches to prevent food waste, but fast saw an opportunity to work on trash problems beyond food. That’s when she thought the waste management industry was for her. The industry was becoming part of the sustainability landscape, and their work in this space would grow, she believed.
These days Coelho spends a lot of time in the field, teaching best practices to businesses and apartment dwellers, whether how to comply with local laws around organic waste diversion or what to put in which bin.
“I tell them I’m here to talk about that place called ‘away’ where they toss something and don’t think about it anymore. That’s where I’m from –away.”
Coelho helps them break old habits and form better ones. She meets them where they are, which entails asking a lot of questions. For the Mom-and-Pop burger shop, it could be: “What containers do you need? What do you want to look out for? Maybe keeping kitchen workers’ gloves out of organics bins?”
For families living in apartments around the corner, it’s questions like “Who takes out the waste at your house, and what steps does this involve?”
It’s a dirty, tough job that has value.
One job she’s proudest of is week-long trash sorts, where she digs into mega volumes of garbage to learn what’s in the stream, then uses what she discovers to help municipalities improve their recycling and diversion programs.
She’s at the materials recovery facility before the sun’s up, unloading garbage containers and shovels from her truck, ready to join her team in the grueling task of hand-sorting 2,000 pounds of waste into several dozen categories designated by CalRecycle. Then comes the job of weighing it to calculate the proportions of each material in the total stream.
Coelho is on her walkie-talkie with the scale house asking when the next load is coming while keeping a close eye on her surroundings.
“There’s heavy equipment and hazardous materials in the waste like sharps, gas cylinders, and different chemicals. I have to be present for my team.”
Breaks are short, and she takes them standing up, wanting to miss nothing.
“You’re lifting 50 to 150 pounds of trash at a time and sweating because you’re in a Tyvek suit and steel-toed boots, and your mask makes your safety glasses fog up.
I come home smelling like trash, and my dog loves it. He loves to sniff my yucky shoes,” she laughs.
Interestingly, Coelho compares waste sorts to another personal lure: backpacking.
“The rest of the world fades. You’re not caught up in calls and emails. You’re just focused on getting to the ‘top,’ and when you get there, it’s great. A shower feels awesome, and food never tastes better!”
She got her start in Sunnyvale, California, launching a community food scraps program, then started another program like it nearby when SCS came calling, inviting her to interview for a similar position.
At the time, she had a five- to 10-year plan to be part of a large company that did solid waste consulting.
“I thought, it’s happening now? It’s here? I can help so many cities all at the same time!
My interview with Tracie Bills – my boss – who runs Sustainable Materials Management in Northern California was exciting. I’d heard her speak at conferences and knew her to be a powerhouse as a woman in the waste industry. I’m going to interview with her?”
Besides Coelho’s fieldwork, there’s her desk job writing detailed reports analyzing what’s in the waste stream; she uses them to help identify effective processing changes and design outreach and education campaigns.
Making supplier to distributor connections.
Supporting food recovery operations is her favorite job. She helps connect businesses with the surplus, edible food with the organizations that feed people in need. And she pilots her clients’ food recovery projects.
It’s not easy. There are logistical and operational barriers to breakthrough for food businesses and food recovery agencies running on razor-thin budgets.
“Food recovery has a special meaning to me because I see our fractured food system. We have all the puzzle pieces, but we don’t put them together correctly. We have edible food going to waste, and we have too many neighbors that do not know where their next meal will come from. It breaks my heart,” she says.
The notion of waste management pros being a force in moving the needle excites her.
And there’s an impetus for her California clients to take the challenge; it helps them comply with a steep state mandate: recovering 20% of edible food that is now disposed of by 2025.
“I envision our role as learning as much as possible about the existing food recovery system; supporting recovery agencies with funding, logistical innovations, and solutions to infrastructure gaps. And I see us encouraging collaboration with other industries. It’s piecing together the puzzle,” Coelho says.
She likes that she uses both mind and muscle to try and figure out creative solutions to hard-to-fix situations between all her roles.
And she likes connecting the pieces, ultimately coming full circle while working toward long-term change.
“You sort and study what people put in the waste stream. Then tailor community outreach and diversion programs based on what you learn. You sort again and see how what you did in the field is working. Then it’s back to finding ways for greater improvement.”
Curious, creative, and determined.
She got what she calls the best gift from her mother: determination.
“She told me you can do whatever you want. And I learned it’s okay to question the norm. To be the only girl at the party telling everyone out for a good time that red beer pong cups are not recyclable.”
Coelho attributes her inquisitive side and craving to solve problems to genetics.
“My grandfather wrote a lot of crazy, out-of-the-box stories, and in each one, he asked himself philosophical questions. He was always self-analyzing and wanting to figure out more … I think this is important to do as an individual, but also as an industry.”
She has never had a boring day at SCS Engineers.
“We are busy, and there’s constant change as we work toward improving systems and practices.I like that I am in a place where I’m always learning. I can try new ways to get to a goal. I can always reach further.”
Leon County and the City of Tallahassee Partnership Working Toward Recycling Goals
March 24, 2021
Achieving Florida’s 75% Recycling Goal presents unique challenges and opportunities for policymakers and professional staff. Across the country, local governments who had become accustomed to receiving operational cost offsets from their recyclable materials are now paying higher fees to continue their recycling programs. Renewable News covers how Leon County and the city of Tallahassee are managing both through their partnership.
They are uncovering opportunities to improve upon current operations, including but not limited to potential changes to facilities, infrastructure, programs, and partnerships. New opportunities are helping both develop long-term policy strategies and recommendations to continue a financially viable recycling program and meet goals.
How Kirkwood, Missouri is Reducing Recycling Contamination
March 16, 2021
We all enjoy a success story, especially when it comes to reducing contamination in recyclable materials. Congratulations to the city and citizens for their Clean/Green campaign with its many benefits. Bill Bensing, Director of Public Services in Kirkwood, takes us through his journey in this timely APWA Reporter article.
As it does nationwide, Florida’s aspirational 75% recycling goal presents unique challenges and opportunities. Specifically, Florida municipal policymakers and professional staff are wrestling with contamination and changing global commodity markets that affect the financial viability of their recycling programs…
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources – WDNR is performing a waste sort to determine what’s in the trash going into Wisconsin’s landfills. During the waste audit, the team will collect at least 200 samples of waste from 12 waste disposal sites across the state for eight weeks. It’s a dirty …
Cities have begun to “right-size” their recycling systems by evaluating the usage of community recycling containers and reducing/redistributing containers to maximize the quantity of recyclables each site receives. Communities are evaluating curbside recycling programs to increase efficiency, and decreasing contamination is a priority…
Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
How One County’s Solid Waste Department Continues to Serve the Public Without Disruptions
February 8, 2021
Kari Hodgson, Director of Collier County Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Division, describes the principles and altered practices she implemented to protect staff and the public as these essential services continue. Collier County, Florida, continues its waste management services with zero closures, service disruptions, and zero work-related exposure cases.
We really enjoyed reading Kari’s article. She covers solutions for the industry and operational challenges, recycling, employee safety, cross-training, and benchmarking service impacts.
Thanks, Kari and the Collier County employees who together make this kind of positive news happen!
Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
SCS Engineers Expands Landfill Services in Georgia
February 2, 2021
SCS Engineers now provides the Augusta Environmental Services Department with engineering, environmental and testing, and Construction Management & Quality Assurance Services at the Deans Bridge Road Landfill, in Blythe, Georgia. The facility operates under the State of Georgia Environmental Protection Division as a Subtitle D Landfill, accepting up to 1,500 tons per day of waste. Active and closed sections of the landfill comprise approximately 1,177 acres of property. Some additional acreage contains ancillary facilities such as office and maintenance buildings, customer drop off area, sediment ponds, roads, and leachate holding facilities. The Augusta Department of Environmental Services is responsible for the landfill facilities, solid waste management planning for Augusta, and all residential solid waste collections. Additionally, the Department is responsible for the Augusta Brownfield program and other environmental compliance issues.
Landfills are carefully engineered facilities closely regulated and monitored to ensure they have the protections necessary to prevent contamination of groundwater, air, and adjoining land. Best landfill management practices include collecting and treating leachate – the water that passes through a landfill. The methane gas naturally produced from decomposing landfill waste is collected and converted into various forms of energy – including compressed natural gas. This alternative fuel powers Augusta Solid Waste trucks or is a substitute for pipeline natural gas.
The Department consolidated all landfill services assigning them to SCS Engineers, a professional environmental consulting firm with over 50 years of experience in performing landfill site acceptability studies, landfill design services, landfill environmental compliance activities. The firm was already engaged in the Landfill’s Gas Collection and Control System (GCCS) expansion. The consolidation of services provides a more cost-effective approach for permitting, design, operations, monitoring, and maintenance. The comprehensive SCS team is a uniquely qualified and experienced full-service consulting and engineering team with demonstrated relevant field experience in Georgia. Leading the team is Sowmya Bulusu, a Georgia Professional Engineer, with over 12 years of landfill engineering performed in accordance with the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Georgia Solid waste management Act, and other applicable federal, state, and local rules and regulations. As the Project Director, Carlo Lebron is a registered Georgia Professional Engineer for 15 years bringing over 21 years of experience on over one hundred solid waste projects.
“The SCS team brought the five-year permit review submittal package in early, giving Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division plenty of time to deem it administratively complete,” stated Sowmya Bulusu. “Working with our field technicians, we quickly identified and brought at-risk gas wells into compliance, used our drones to provide an aerial survey of the entire landfill, saving Department funds.”
The solid waste and recycling industry is being reshaped by powerful forces – fiscal uncertainty, a critical need for infrastructure investment, local governments pushed to engage in creative city-to-city and public/private partnerships, and the need to leverage technology to connect to our communities and customers. “When we embrace disruptions, we can lean in and make decisions that help accelerate needed solutions and sunset legacy practices that can stand in the way of progress,” said SWANA Deputy Executive Director Meri Beth Wojtaszek. “This has some leaders replacing the phrase ‘before and after’ to ‘before and faster.’”
Visit WASTECON.org for program updates and registration information as it becomes available.
Tuesday, January 26, 2021, at 4:00 PM – 4:45 PM (EST) Keynote: Outside the Box: Reinventing Your Organization in Response to COVID-19 features a diverse panel that will share some innovative ways their organizations have responded and reinvented themselves to remain relevant during the pandemic. Three speakers provide perspective including, Carlton Williams – City of Philadelphia; James Walsh – SCS Engineers; John Brusa, Jr. – Barton & Loguidice.
Thursday, January 28, at 3:00 PM – 3:45 PM (EST) Keynote:Paying for Waste Services During the Downturn features a panel that will present options for financing solid waste operations during the economic downturn and ways to plan for the future. EconomistVita Quinn – SCS Engineers; John Chalmers – Baltimore City Department of Public Works; Kim Braun – Culver City, CA
Anytime! On-Demand Resources – at your convenience, these short, non-commercial sessions are available in the SCS Learning Center. Click the title to begin playing.
A solid waste expert, an economist, and a city council member discuss municipal funding resources and strategies. Each brings their perspective and experience to inform and answer questions from a live audience including, the big picture approach, expense-based solutions, revenue diversification and optimization strategies, financial modeling of solid waste services.
This discussion, moderated by Bob Gardner, provides useful strategies when developing a business case analysis for SMM, recycling, or composting programs. The process also helps identify opportunities to increase efficiency, reduce operating costs, design a Capital Plan, and secure support for rate increases. Michelle Leonard assesses the pandemic’s effect on recycling programs, state regulatory policy, and funding challenges. Vita Quinn presents a financial modeling scenario employing financial modeling and solid waste facility software to help decision-makers visualize the impact of various alternatives on the planning process. The model is useful for budgeting and testing alternative scenarios for future waste policies, strategies, and funding.
Cassandra Drotman discusses the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard and market opportunities. She covers how the program works, what counts in California, and how other states are using California as a market in addition to their regional markets. She’s not just talking about green fuel; Cassandra examines the increasing range of low-carbon and renewable alternatives that are helping to drive transportation sector fuel pools to cleaner, reliable, and economically viable options.
Each U.S. region faces unique weather and climate events. Solid waste facilities and landfills are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather since they are exposed 24/7 to the environment. Extreme weather can disrupt safe and cost-effective operations, increase maintenance needs, and may compromise landfill stability. Increase your facility’s longevity and ability to survive extreme weather. The recording includes Q&A from solid waste professionals and features Robert Gardner and Bob Isenberg, who bring decades of expertise to the table, including landfill design and solid waste master planning. They provide strategies and resources based on successful solutions that help support your facility as you prepare for and likely will experience severe weather disruptions.
More so than ever before, the solid waste industry faces complex and challenging odor issues based upon public, regulatory, and legal actions. Since odors are generally enforced through nuisance regulations, compliance can be difficult to achieve, not to mention almost impossible to define. Enforcement of odor nuisances is subjective, usually at the discretion of an environmental inspector or Air Pollution Control Officer, and often based upon citizen complaints. When citizen complaints mount and enforcement action is leveraged, lawsuits often surface as an added ongoing challenge to waste facility operations. This free webinar will help you develop capabilities to assess the potential for odor issues and, by doing so, set realistic benchmarks toward cost-effective and meaningful mitigation measures.
Posted by Laura Dorn at 8:00 am
SCS Engineers Welcomes Maura Dougherty to Our Solid Waste Engineering Practice
January 5, 2021
Maura Dougherty is joining SCS’s Southwest Business Unit as a Senior Project Manager in the solid waste engineering practice. Dougherty will execute engineering design, operations support, and construction quality assurance projects. She is responsible for project management, client service, business development, technical leadership, and overseeing professional staff teams. Dougherty reports to Vice President and Southwest Business Unit Director of Engineering, Vidhya Viswanathan, P.E., from SCS’s Pleasanton office.
“Maura is a senior professional with proven extensive success in solid waste engineering, construction, and construction quality assurance solutions,” said Viswanathan. “Her experience managing landfill and landfill gas collection and control system engineering and construction projects strengthen our efforts to support our solid waste and recycling clients.”
Dougherty is a registered Professional Engineer in California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii. She brings over 20 years of experience overseeing landfill engineering and construction projects, coordinating with regulatory staff, conducting design and technical reviews, and supporting construction work. Dougherty earned her B.S.E. in civil engineering at the University of Princeton and her M.S. in environmental engineering from U.C. Berkeley.
Welcome to the SCS Team – Driven by Client Success!
Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am
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