SWANA unveils Professional Achievement Award winners

SILVER SPRING, Maryland – The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has announced the recipients of its annual Professional Achievement Awards.

The Professional Achievement Awards recognize SWANA members for their valuable and distinguished contributions to the association, the solid waste and recycling industry and the public. These award winners were nominated by their peers for their dedication to their organizations, the industry, the public, and environment.

“SWANA’s annual Professional Achievement Awards recognize leaders, and this year is no exception,” stated David Biderman, SWANA’s executive director and CEO.

“The three individuals selected for these awards have been long-time leaders seeking to improve solid waste and recycling systems at the local, state, and national levels,” he added.

Robert L. Lawrence Distinguished Service Award:

The Robert L. Lawrence Distinguished Service Award has been given to Enrique Zaldivar, director and general manager, LA Sanitation and Environment. It is SWANA’s highest recognition of an individual in the field of solid waste management. It is awarded to a member or non-member who, by their service to the field of solid waste management, has demonstrated unusually noteworthy achievements and/or highly significant contributions.

Zaldivar has been at the helm of the City of Los Angeles LA Sanitation & Environment Department (LASAN) as director and general manager since 2007. Through his leadership, LASAN oversees the City’s Clean Water program, the Solid Resources program, and the Watershed Protection program.

LASAN’s achievements in solid waste under Zaldivar’s direction include the recently implemented recycLA Franchise Initiative with the adoption of the Solid Waste Private Hauler Exclusive Franchise Initiative.

Ongoing programs and initiatives include work to improve recycling markets via the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA); a commitment to electrification of the refuse collection truck fleet to move toward Zero Emission goals; and implementation of a long-term Zero Waste Plan for the period through 2030.

The Association Life Member Award has been given to Harvey Levitt, retired, Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority.

SWANA confers a Life Member Award to a current member based on the member’s length of service, contributions, and commitment to the Association and/or a chapter; superior commitment and service to their employer; long-term involvement in the solid waste management, and significant contributions to the field of solid waste management.

Levitt joined SWANA and the Georgia Chapter in 1995 and is still an active member 25 years later. As a long-time member, he served on the Chapter Board of Directors for 20 years, helped develop Georgia’s landfill operator training and certification, and then served as an instructor for about 13 years.

Levitt won SWANA’s Professional Achievement Award for Public Sector Members in 2013. He is retired from the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority.

Upon being notified of his recognition, Levitt said, “SWANA is all about training and bonding and sharing training with your peers.”

The Robert L. Lawrence Lecture Award went to Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director, National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC).

The Lawrence Lecture Award is given annually to an individual recognized as a leader in the field of solid waste or resource management or another aspect of environmental protection. It is awarded in recognition of substantial, significant, and sustained contributions.

The Lawrence Lecture is typically delivered at WASTECON, which this year has a theme of “Embracing Disruption.”

Sanborn is an internationally recognized advocate for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and a circular economy. She is a dynamic and knowledgeable speaker who uses solid information, real-world stories and humor to share her message.

NSAC is both an advocate and lobbyist on behalf of EPR and product stewardship at all levels of government. NSAC is known for its support of California’s landmark 2018 medicine and sharps take-back legislation, the first law in the United States to address both medicines and needles through EPR at the state level, among other bills.

“These individuals have had a tremendous impact on the communities they have served and on the solid waste profession,” said SWANA president Brenda Haney. “Their work will have a lasting impact. Congratulations!”

SWANA thanks Zaldivar, Levitt, and Sanborn for their work for the industry and SWANA.