When the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Maryland, and the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), Arlington, Virginia, released a brief and checklist for elected officials considering emerging waste management technologies in March, it was a smart move.
Many technologies are available to municipalities, but not every new or emerging technology has been fully proven or is suitable to every situation. Elected officials need to be wary of the snake oil salesman who makes promises he can’t deliver. Unfortunately, this has happened all too often in this industry, and often failures resonate with people more than the successful projects do.
SWANA and NWRA coming together to provide municipal leaders with the tools necessary to detect the difference between a viable option and a potential expensive mistake is commendable. They clearly recognized a recurring situation and have sought to address the problem head-on.
The “Effective Responses to Emerging Waste Management Technology Proposals” and the “Emerging Waste Management Technology Project Development Checklist” are not designed to prevent the development of new technologies, they are helping to ensure the progress of the technologies that work by enabling public officials to make informed decisions. They now know what questions to ask when unsolicited proposals reach their desks or when technology companies knock on their doors.
These tools will help drive the waste management industry into technological advancements in a way that involves calculated risk, and technologies that provide viable solutions will thrive in this environment. Those technologies that can’t deliver on their promises will not get past the preliminary round of questioning, which may end up saving a municipality time, money and the bad press from a failed project.
I would encourage everyone to take the time to learn more about these documents in the article “Connecting the Dots,” in this issue.