Christy Dixon Recycler of the Year Award
Sharon Ehrhardt, Jefferson County
“Sharon is one of the most important people I met as I began my job with Watertown,” explained Rick Schultz, street superintendent for the city of Watertown, when asked how to describe Sharon Ehrhardt. He goes on to say that without her he would never have successfully pursued such a wide variety of waste diversion and recycling programs. “Recycling was just not something that I thought I would be doing, but Sharon was there all the way helping me operate and improve programs.”
The above epitomizes Sharon and her enthusiasm for the work that she does. She has been dedicated to “recycling causes” not only in Jefferson County, but around the state. Sharon has spent the last 17 years of her career convincing sometimes inconvincible county and local municipal officials that waste reduction, recycling and Clean Sweeps are indeed in their best interests. Rick Schultz said that when it came to Sharon, she just wouldn’t take no for an answer. “When one door would close in her face, she just would pound on 20 more” until she got what she wanted. For instance, when policy makers were reluctant to fund a Clean Sweep, Sharon pounded on enough doors to raise $20,000 to add to the Clean Sweep Grant. And she did so with a smile on her face and a contagious passion for her work.
Working with many of her local communities Sharon has successfully built a legacy of waste diversion options. While her job in Jefferson County involves development and implementation of Clean Sweep and recycling events, she does much more in terms of advocating and educating throughout the county. For instance, the city of Watertown has found great success via Sharon’s guidance as they explored diversion of new materials including paint, tires, carpet and mattresses.
Sharon has served as co-chair of AROW’s Product Stewardship Committee for the last five years and was active with the committee prior to that. She attends nearly every AROW Board and Council on Recycling meeting and is not shy about providing her opinions. She served on the Pharmaceutical Waste Working Group from its inception and recently volunteered to serve as its secretary (when no one else stepped forward).
It would seem that that Sharon’s goal is to divert as much material as possible from landfilling. Recently she helped the city of Watertown connect with those from the AROW Glass Taskforce. Now the city is using crushed glass with gravel for a variety of public works projects, saving the city money and keeping the hard-to-recycle crushed glass out of the landfill. As Rick Schultz said, “Sharon is one of the best assets of Jefferson County.”
Sharon’s vision is probably best expressed in the manner in which she signs her emails: “ Make recycling part of your life!”
Outstanding Achievement in Recycling Education Award
Christine Miller, Outagamie County
While she regularly appears in print and on television, positively and consistently promoting messages that have amplified a trend to “recycle more and recycle right,” it is her work in organizing municipalities that has made a significant difference in Outagamie County this past year.
Knowing that automated carts are essential to the county’s single stream recycling program, especially in rural municipalities where recycling practices tend to lag behind urban communities and where funding can be a challenge, Outagamie County Recycling & Solid Waste applied for and was awarded The Recycling Partnership’s Cart Grant.
From the grant the Outagamie County program received $52K which helped fund the purchase of automated recycling carts by providing the participating municipalities $7 per cart, as well as provided the county an innovative educational and promotional campaign as well as crucial data collecting services.
Christine wasted no time. She hit the road and became a regular item on city, town and village board meeting agendas, as she needed to educate and gain support from the municipal leaders to join in her efforts. Christine’s interpersonal skills and diplomatic personality served her well in her interactions with the public officials, which resulted in 13 municipalities jumping aboard.
Once she achieved commitment from her communities, she continued her efforts by coordinating the bidding process for the provision of 95-gallon carts and found the most competitive, giving the municipalities the best cost savings available. Christine went on to help each municipality create education pieces, organize cart shipment and delivery to households and arrange a media kick-off event that was featured on Fox 11's Good Day Wisconsin.
In the end, Outagamie added nearly 7K carts to local, mostly rural, residents. Recycling tonnages in these 13 newly carted municipalities has increased more than 14%. Accordingly, trash tonnages were reduced, saving the municipalities money, while preserving premium landfill space.
Christine’s outreach to the remaining non-carted municipalities continued beyond the grant program, yet helping 3 more municipalities acquire automated recycling carts, bringing the total of carted households to 91%.
Toward the end of the 2017, Christine helped launch a sharp’s disposal initiative. Partnering with Winnebago County Solid Waste, and both Winnebago and Outagamie County Public Health Departments, she helped developed a safe sharps disposal program at local Pick N Save pharmacies.
Chris is a key member of the county administration team. She is generous with her time as is always willing to coordinate tours and/or info sessions for the board of supervisors, the public or special guests, including legislators. She’s a gifted communicator, a collegial team player and an important connection between county administration and its Recycling & Solid Waste Department.
Outstanding Achievement in Recycling Award
Dynamic Recycling was founded in 2007 in La Crosse, Wis., with the mission to improve the world through reuse and recycling by empowering team members to better themselves, their families, and others. Over the past 11 years, the company has grown very rapidly, with two additional locations in Nashville, Tenn., and Minneapolis, Minn., and over 200 team members. It provides services to customers across several industries including healthcare, financial, and education, as well as residential and municipal markets, and any other e-waste generators.
Dynamic Recycling guarantees that all electronic equipment and materials it receives are recycled properly. Its “No Landfill Policy” ensures that all electronics and component parts will be recycled to the fullest extent. Over the last few years, Dynamic Recycling has had a significant environment impact, processing over 255 million pounds of electronics, diverting these materials from landfills.
The company holds itself and its approved vendors to the highest standards of integrity - all whole electronic units are processed only in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, with detailed audits conducted on all approved vendors that handle hazardous components. Dynamic Recycling also demonstrates this commitment by partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and other government agencies to ensure compliance with all local, state, and federal rules and regulations.
Through its network of global and downstream vendor partnerships, Dynamic Recycling provides services to both U.S.-based and international customers. Specifically, within the Midwest, the company ties together regional recycling initiatives to further strengthen Wisconsin’s recycling programs.
Dynamic Recycling has a very strong commitment to the 7 Rivers Region, which has resulted in the creation of hundreds of jobs and unique opportunities for professionals in the area, while regularly giving back to the community through donations, free collection events, and volunteering. The company also offers internships, schools district tours, and other educational events to teach future generations about the importance of recycling electronic materials in an environmentally and fiscally responsible manner.
Dynamic Recycling’s dedication to its team members, the community, and economic development has also propelled substantial future growth for the company, with a 140,000 square-foot expansion to its Onalaska, Wis. headquarters. This new facility, scheduled for completion in spring of 2018, will drive significantly more domestic recycling value while producing higher-quality raw materials. It is also expected to add 150 more jobs over the next three years.
outstanding Achievement: Student
Lindsey Carlson, UWSP Student
Lindsey Carlson is simply an amazing person! She has known deep, deep sadness and personal challenges, yet her smile will always shine through any dark day.
Lindsey is a senior at UWSP and will graduate in May with a degree in Waste Management and Soils. She has been an active leader in that program, now serving as the president of the Waste Management Society. She has a knack for building teams and engaging her teammates in getting the job done. Under her leadership the WMS has embarked on many campus projects that reduced waste, increased recycling and challenged students, faculty and staff to think about their “waste impact.”
Lindsey doesn’t lead ahead of the crowd, she leads as one of the crowd. She digs in and gets involved…she walks the walk. This is a short list of a volunteer work, each one focused on working to better the environment and conserve our natural resources: Waste Management Society; Living Lands & Waters; Central Rivers Farmshed; Students for Sustainability; WisCorp; Badger Volunteers; AROW Emerging Leaders Community Service Project; SWANA National Student Design Competition Project.
Along with this work, Lindsey worked as an undergraduate research assistant for a project that studied the effects of vermicomposting on ginseng production, served as an on-campus recycling assistant and was part of a research team conducting an organics diversion feasibility study for the city of Stevens Point. Additionally, her academic work beyond these things has been distinguished with either Honors or High Honors.
During the summers of 2016 the MCSWD had the great pleasure of having Lindsey serve as an intern and welcomed her again during the summer of 2017 as a seasonal employee. Her contribution to a positive work culture and embrace of our department core values was continually demonstrated by her willingness to provide positive feedback on ways to improve programs, asking important questions and continually striving for excellence. A true demonstration of her leadership shown through one day when she recognized that an activity by a contractor posed a significant risk or even grave harm. She quickly recognized that a trench in which the contractor employees worked was not in compliance with standard safety rules. As an intern she felt a bit uncertain, but she knew she needed to speak up and ensure the unsafe behavior stopped. Her attentiveness, quick evaluation of the situation and her courage demonstrated real leadership.
Finally, Lindsey recently completed a rigorous program to become a sergeant in the Wisconsin National Guard. She has served since 2013 and has taken on increasing responsibility over this time. And something that is so uniquely Lindsey, she challenged her superior offices to implement a recycling program for their weekend and other mobilizations. When at first they would not listen to this young woman of low rank, she took on her own private waste dive, sorting recyclables from the trash. After a bit, others started recognizing that she meant business and slowly, but surely, her plan to start a recycling program took shape!
CLICK HERE for full 2018 Awards Press Release