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Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Receives Notable EPA Recognition

Monday, November 07, 2011 | 09:47am
NASHVILLE – The Department of Environment and Conservation was recently recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with a National Notable Achievement Award for its contributions to EPA Region IV’s Metric and Measurement Project, which resulted in significant improvements in the quality and quantity of reporting recycling data.
The announcement was made at the recent Symposium on Recycling and the Economy in Memphis, which was organized by TDEC, EPA, the Southeast Recycling Development Council and the Tennessee Recycling Coalition.
Current municipal solid waste data systems have limitations that make it difficult to compare recycling efforts across states, and especially across the country. In 2010, the Region IV project team took on the challenge of developing a measurement tool for the Southeast region, recognizing the need for reliable measurement and ensuring the new system would be compatible with existing systems.
EPA recognized TDEC for its contributions to develop this customized version of a web-based measurement tool that reports waste reduction and recycling data. This critical new system defines a standard of excellence for effectiveness, efficiency and quality for consistent and standardized measurement across all of EPA’s Region IV states. The team's effort supports the national Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) program and is a critical component to understanding and increasing SMM practices in the region.
“We are pleased to receive this honor, which demonstrates TDEC’s ability to tackle challenging and emerging issues,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau. “I want to recognize the department’s Division of Solid Waste Management team for their leadership and efforts to facilitate such a noteworthy effort.”
The project also incorporates regional benchmarking, and processes that will simplify data reporting for counties and states and improve residents’ access to local recycling information. The system's data also will serve as a platform for addressing ongoing recycling issues and encourage robust materials management across the Southeast – decreasing the amount of materials being sent to landfills.
“What can’t be measured, can’t be managed,” said EPA’s Jon Johnston, branch chief for Region IV.This system provides us with the ability to better understand what is going on in Region IV."
Once the team's pilot model is operational, the region-level system will assist states in identifying both state- and national-level trends. Ultimately, the data can be used to provide a comprehensive inventory of recycling operations across the country.

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