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Overcoming Roadblocks to Zero Waste Herding Cats-Getting People to Work Together

April 30, 2016

SWANA Road to Zero Waste National Conference, Las Vegas, NV Presenters: Rob Hilton, Vice President; Tim Flanagan, General Manager, MRWMD

This presentation demonstrates what long-term strategic planning, historically prudent financial management, utilization of existing infrastructure, beneficial timing, a dedicated appointed Board of Directors and some visionary staff leadership can bring about with a focus on creating a true “Zero Waste” facility. Starting in 2010, the Monterey Regional Waste Management District realized the need to plan for the next generation of its recycling system. State legislation and regulatory agencies made clear a statewide 75% recycling goal. In 2014, the District’s debt from its 1996 MRF would be paid off and the MRF would require upgrades. In 2015, the franchise agreements in seven of its member communities would expire. The key to success was to work regionally to develop a unified vision while respecting the unique character and needs of each community. The District engaged HF&H Consultants to work with the District and member communities to define the goals and the methods for achieving them, including: 1) new infrastructure to support processing of all waste, recycling, organics, and C&D in the region; 2) recovery of energy and fuel products; 3) competitive procurement for franchise collection services; and, 4) a business model that aligns with a future with less waste. The presentation describes the features of the new system that enable the achievement of the highest levels of material recovery seen anywhere in the U.S. while preserving the value of recyclable and organic commodity. It presents the planning and franchise procurement process and the state-of-the-industry infrastructure that will provide the backbone for the next twenty to thirty years of recovery programs.