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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Power of the Voice

Zero waste is on the verge of mainstream acceptance due to the prominent success stories of impressive landfill diversion supported by significant bottom line improvements. Upfront investment in equipment purchases, standard operating practices evolution, signage and training often results in a quick ROI - return on investment.

... and now the naysayers, those eager to criticize success with one-sided perspectives, are coming forth.  A prime example is a November Waste & Recycling News editorial that attacked The Ohio State University's phenomenal 98.2% diversion rate at the November 3, 2012 game. In the November 26 Zero waste can have high costs editorial, WRN questions whether OSU overachieved with the high rate. "Let's not divert common sense too" was a comment in the editorial.

Questioning program costs is important.  Research into corresponding benefits, monetary and otherwise, before publishing critical copy on costs is inherent within quality journalism. Scott Lutocka, Piazza Produce facility manager, used his eloquent, experienced voice to throw penalty flags on the WRN editorial in his rebuttal,  OSU should be lauded for its efforts. Kudos to WRN for publishing Scott's rebuttal.

Scott speaking at zero waste event
The WRN editorial and Scott's rebuttal exemplify the Power of our Voices.  When unsubstantiated jabs are published, it is important to diffuse the slanted message with substantiated facts in an easily heard voice.  Scott infiltrated his rebuttal with OSU zero waste program facts and then wrote with a sports overtone.  "I just blew my referee's whistle and threw my yellow penalty flag onto Waste & Recycling News' playing field." is the opening sentence. At the rebuttal's end Scott substantiates his authority as the manager who brought Piazza Produce to zero waste while "turning trash into cash", i.e. improving the bottom line.

At other times it is best to remain silent as OSU did upon publishing of the biased editorial.  If OSU had written a response, it most likely would appear defensive and give more energy to the criticism. OSU President Gordon Gee sent Scott a personal thank you for writing on OSU's behalf.  

To learn about Piazza Produce's zero waste journey under Scott's stewardship, visit the Zero Waste is a Team Sport post and the Ei FB album. 09-24-12 Piazza Produce Zero Waste Tour.

Corey Hawkey
Columbus Alive, People to Watch
For an excellent OSU game day recycling overview watch the OSU Zero Waste video. FUN, the stadium achieved 94.5% landfill diversion during the game filmed, the first official OSU zero waste game!  

Congratulations to Corey Hawkey, program coordinator for OSU's energy services and sustainability office, and his team for developing a successful program in a nearly 106,000 seat stadium  - no easy feat!  A future blog post will dive deeper into OSU's winning zero waste program.

Let's play nicely together and remember the Power of the Voice.  As witnessed with Scott's rebuttal, penalty flags for poor behavior may be thrown in a manner where all win.

Note:  WRN requires a subscription to see articles.

1 comment:

  1. I for one love the dialog and the need that we put out legitimate numbers when reporting success stories. Those against ZW will poke holes through anything that is questionable so we need to have the highest integrity which I know Corey and his group do a very good job of maintaining. Also, I give big credit to WRN and their publisher Brennan Lafferty who when I suggested he make their Residential Recycling Conference a ZW event he immediately jumped on it and devoted resources to making it happen. The good news too is there was 91% diversion and I made sure the numbers were legit with no dumpster diving removing contamination to try and make the numbers look better. WRN has also committed to do the same for their Corporate Waste and Recycling Conference in St. Louis in October. Thanks to Scott too for standing up for open dialog and integrity within our own ranks.