In 2016, ECICOG was awarded a USDA Solid Waste Management Grant to complete the first phase of a regional solid waste management project. The purpose of the project is to support and strengthen the local solid waste management system as it transitions to meet current industry standards and mitigate negative environmental impacts. The project is focused on the rural solid waste facilities of ECICOG’s Solid Waste Planning Area, which includes Benton, Iowa, Jones, and Tama Counties. Phase I of the project included onsite operations and safety training, developing resources for staff and administration, and promoting established household hazardous materials (HHM) collection programs.
For the training component, each solid waste facility received monthly trainings in safety and operations topics such as methane safety, personal protective equipment, wind, cold and hot conditions, and maintenance. The high quality of the training allowed staff to receive continuing education units (CEU) that meet solid waste operator license requirements in Iowa. In addition, ECICOG facilitated an eight hour compaction and safety training with Blue Ridge Services, a nationally recognized consulting firm specializing in solid waste operations.
To reduce improper disposal of hazardous materials, the final component of the project included promotion of each facility’s HHM collection program. ECICOG designed and distributed new information materials specific to each solid waste facility. An open house event was also hosted for each solid waste facility to allow businesses and residents to learn more about the HHM collection program in their county.
As Phase I came to a close, the National Association of Development Organizations announced their 2016 Innovation awards honoring ECICOG’s project for improving the economic and community competitiveness of our nation’s regions and local communities. Despite positive feedback and a national award, the most notable accomplishments of this project are the specific safety and operations improvements at the participating solid waste facilities. To continue the project, ECICOG has applied for another USDA Solid Waste Management grant to complete Phase II. The next phase will build on Phase I with an added focus on training and resource development for the solid waste commissions that are responsible for financial and long-term management.
The flexibility of onsite training is of great benefit to us by adding very little disruption to the work day. Our employees feel the onsite training has a more practical application to actual day to day landfill operations.” -Interim Director of the Iowa County Landfill