RethinkWaste wins SWANA award

California agency’s education center to receive Public Education Award at Wastecon.


RethinkWaste, San Carlos, California, has been named the winner of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Gold Excellence Award in the Public Education category. RethinkWaste, a joint powers authority consisting of 12 public agencies in San Mateo County, California, will receive the award Aug. 26, 2014, at SWANA’s Wastecon annual conference in Grapevine, Texas.

RethinkWaste is being recognized for its Environmental Education Center and Tour Program at its Shoreway Environmental Center in San Carlos. The program has hosted more than 14,000 visitors on 565 tours since its launch in January 2012.

“Getting national recognition for our Educational Program is a great honor for the staff [and] reflects the values of the 12 jurisdictions and their residents [who] have funded the establishment and operation of the facility,” says Bill Widmer, board chairman of RethinkWaste and a member of the Atherton, California, council. “Our educational program is paying measurable dividends as we have seen a 19 percent reduction of our landfill sold waste, a 25 percent improvement in recycling and nearly 30 percent increase in organics diversion. It is these results, as well as our continuing contributions to maintaining a healthy Earth, that truly matter.”

The tour itinerary includes visiting Shoreway’s transfer station; its material recovery facility (MRF); the Environmental Education Center, which includes museum-type exhibits, reuse art and a talking robot; and an outdoor education area with a 10,000-gallon rainwater harvest tank, a composting and gardening demonstration area and exhibits on water and energy conservation.

“It’s very gratifying to receive this type of recognition from your industry peers,” says Kevin McCarthy, RethinkWaste executive director. “More importantly, this award is a testament to the commitment of thousands of local school children and adults to learning how they can conserve precious natural resources every day.”

More information on the awards and RethinkWaste’s entry can be found at