Q: We understand you’ve opened your own environmental consulting business since leaving GEPA. What is your organization named and can you tell us about the types of activities you are involved with in your new business?
A: Basically Denney Environmental Consulting Services is the entity that is contracted by the Guam Business Partners for Recycling to assist in the implementation of the "i recycle" program in 40 schools on Guam. Over time I hope to expand my business and expertise beyond that of recycling composting and education/outreach to include other forms of environmental consulting such as site assessment natural resource management and environmental project management.
Q: Can you discuss your official role in the i-recycle program recently launched in island schools?
A: I’ve been contracted by the Guam Business Partners for Recycling to implement the aluminum recycling program in 40 schools. I work with school administrators to identify an appropriate bin site at their school and coordinate the placement of the bin and its signage. I provide presentations on the "i recycle" program to faculty staff students PTAs/PTOs as well as community organizations to explain the program the roles of the GBPR members in the program and the benefits of the program to the school the island and the earth. This also includes dissemination to the schools of education/outreach materials provided by GBPR for students and their parents as well as materials to promote adoption of participating schools by businesses to promote recycling throughout the community. Assisting in the disbursement of funds to the schools based on the quantities they have generated is also one of my responsibilities.
Q: How did the i-recycle come into being? How did the program overcome the challenges that arose relative to the use of logos of alcohol distributors and the acceptance of aluminum beer cans at schools?
A: The Guam Business Partners for Recycling has basically come into being over the last two and a half years at the instigation of Anheuser-Busch Chairman of the Board August Busch III who expressed a desire in January 2005 to do something for this region. In conjunction with Ambros Inc. they created this recycling program which is similar to recycling programs A-B Recycling Corporation has created in many communities in the states. Then Ambros Inc. began approaching other businesses in the community to provide financial or in-kind contributions in order to create a convenient and effective aluminum recycling program for the schools on Guam. Eight companies have now joined forces to implement this program.
The issue of corporate logos of the GBPR members being on the bins did delay the implementation of this program because it was felt by some members of the Guam Education Policy Board that that would promote alcohol consumption. In an effort to expedite the implementation of the program the GBPR members decided that their corporate logos would not go on the bins that would be placed in the public schools. While waiting for a decision to be made by the GEPB the GBPR began approaching private schools that have not shared the logo concern and the program has now been implemented in ten private schools. The schools participating thus far are very excited and enthusiastic about the program and are recycling aggressively.
Q: A memo of understanding was recently signed by the Lt. Governor which enables the Guam Public School System to participate in the program. When do you expect to begin collections at public schools and have the initial schools been identified? Are there additional requirements for participation by GPSS as compared to the private schools?
A: Yes we are very pleased that the MOU has been signed and are now working with the GPSS Superintendent to identify all the schools that will be participating in the program. UOG and GCC are also on board now and two more private schools wish to participate as well so the remainder of the 40 bins will go to the public school system. We hope to place them in all the high schools and middle schools and approximately 15 elementary schools located throughout Guam.
Q: What are some other environmental practices that you are encouraging the public to pursue and what are the biggest challenges to implementation?
A: In addition to recycling and composting which I discuss in a later question another topic that I often include in presentations is the severe impact plastic debris has on the marine environment. In addition to derelict fishing gear which impacts various marine species through entanglement or ingestion other common plastic items are finding their way into the ocean often causing death or irreparable damage to marine organisms. These items include cigarette lighters toothbrushes bottle caps straws plastic silverware and similar items. Over one million seabirds die from this debris every year worldwide thinking it is food and ingesting it and giving it to their young. We can all help address this problem simply by ensuring that all our trash is properly disposed of and by cleaning up our own trash when we go to the beach as well as what has been left behind by others.
Q: We understand you are working with the University of Guam the Department of Public Works and the Department of Agriculture in the efforts to eradicate the Rhinoceros Beetle infestation recently discovered in Tumon. Can you discuss the methods being used in this emergency response?
A: In an effort to assist in addressing the infestation in Tumon by the Rhinoceros Beetle I helped coordinate a meeting with Sen. James Espaldon and UOG DPW and others to begin developing an appropriate response to this possible threat to Guam’s coconut palms. Dr. Aubrey Moore who first identified the beetle has conducted a survey of the island and is fairly confident that the beetle infestation is limited to Tumon. Total eradication is the response that is being developed which will include extensive trapping throughout Tumon and an intensive sanitation effort to clean the area of dead dying and rotting palm trees stumps and fronds. This material will then be chipped and composted on an appropriate site within the Tumon area. We will be working with Guam EPA to expedite the permitting of that composting site. The traps which are totally non-toxic will use pheromone attractants to collect and trap adult beetles. The sanitation effort with chipping and composting will destroy the eggs and larvae. This project will require the support and assistance of the hotels and other entities within Tumon as well as the community as a whole in order to effectively eradicate this beetle and prevent its spread to the rest of the island.
Q: What is your personal opinion on incineration (waste-to energy) as opposed to the opening of a new landfill in accordance with the requirement to close the Ordot Dump?
A: I am not opposed to incineration as long as it meets air quality standards and is only one component of an integrated solid waste management plan. I believe aggressive recycling is crucial as the primary component of our ISWMP and we must continue to expand recycling efforts on Guam. I would personally be opposed to any incineration program which promoted the generation of even more trash than we produce already in order to make the process lucrative.
Q: What is your opinion of the work of the Solid Waste Law Review Commission’s attempts to review existing – and often conflicting – regulations on the books in order to remove the roadblocks to moving forward with committing to and implementing permanent solutions to solid waste management?
A: I think the Law Review Commission is providing a significant service to the island in its review of the multitude of laws and regulations regarding solid waste management on Guam. My primary concern has been the possible de-emphasizing of recycling as a key component of whatever solution is selected. However I have been assured by Sen. Espaldon that recycling will remain at the top of the list of components of Guam’s integrated solid waste management plan.
Q: What is your position with regard to having solid waste management outsourced in a public-private partnership or completely privatizing some services?
A: Privatization of at least some services is necessary in order to have an effective and efficient waste management system particularly if curbside recycling is going to be included in that process. It’s essential to have individuals involved who have experience and expertise in this area. And it’s going to be very important to have companies who are capable of assisting with interim measures until curbside pickup of trash and recyclables is available to everyone.
Q: In the meantime what alternatives can you recommend for individual households in terms of reducing the amount of solid waste generated over all and how to properly incorporate recycling into workable day-to-day activities especially those that do not require official government programs?
A: There are many activities that people can incorporate into their day-to-day routine that can effectively reduce the solid waste they generate that ultimately is disposed of at Ordot. All types of paper – white colored newspaper magazines catalogs and telephone directories – can be recycled at Guam Transport & Warehouse in Harmon Guam’s only paper recycling facility. Residents living in condos apartments or family complexes can collect it and take turns delivering it to GTW’s facility. Or people can recycle with their neighbors and deliver it to the facility on a rotating basis. The same process can be applied to cardboard another large component of the waste stream. Guam EPA has just published its updated Guam Recycling Guide and residents can refer to it for all the recycling facilities on Guam.
In support of the "i recycle" program every sector of the community can participate in this aluminum recycling program by recycling aluminum cans at home or in the office and taking their cans to whatever school they have adopted.
As soon as an alternative site is established to accept green waste residents will no longer be able to take green waste to Ordot. It’s unfortunate that it was ever accepted there because it is a valuable resource that can be mulched and/or composted to create an excellent amendment for the soil. Residents can contact UOG or myself if they would like more information on composting.
Q: Changing the mindset of people is often the greatest hurdle to establishing successful environmental programs. Can you discuss the education and public awareness activities that you plan to incorporate into your business?
A: Effecting behavioral change is definitely the most challenging aspect of implementing environmental programs. To truly change habits you must work to change values as well. Education is paramount in this effort and I think helping people really understand – at a very basic level – the impacts to the environment of improper waste management is essential. Presentations and outreach materials can provide a foundation for this education process but hands-on projects such as beach and inland cleanups tree plantings and educational field trips can be extremely effective in truly changing one’s values. I also try on my own not necessarily as part of my business to provide information to the public through articles that I write for various publications and through radio programs (Where We Live on K-57 and EnviroViews on KPRG). MBJ