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Salt Lake City’s Mitch Davis Recognized for Innovative Waste & Recycling Work

Ever wonder how Salt Lake City successfully diverts over 32,000 tons of material annually from the landfill?

It’s a big undertaking– involving operations, education, outreach, and policy. And our amazing staff are at the heart of it!

Today we’re thrilled to announce that one of our own, Mitch Davis, is being recognized nationally for his efforts by Waste360, a recycling trade group serving 90,000 professionals.

The Waste360 “40 Under 40” awards program “recognizes inspiring and innovative professionals under the age of 40 whose work in waste, recycling and organics have made a significant contribution to the industry.“

“This award is a great honor in the waste & recycling industry,” said Lance Allen, Waste & Recycling Division Director. “We are very proud of Mitch and what he brings to our team and community.”

Mitch started his career with Salt Lake City as an intern in 2008 while finishing up his degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Utah. His passion for waste diversion and public service has been the driving force behind the success of many of our waste diversion strategies ever since.

When Mitch started with Salt Lake City he wanted to, “make a difference.” Because of his hard work and dedication, he most certainly has achieved that goal! Here’s how:

  • As an intern, Mitch worked in collaboration on a project to increase recycling in the City and County Building by increasing educational signage. After the messaging campaign had been in place, the volume of recycling material was measured and found to have increased substantially. Mitch’s internship also involved creating a contamination map by walking the city streets and checking inside recycling cans. This helped get a better understanding of the social behaviors of residents and develop an awareness campaign to address contamination.
  • Mitch took what he learned and applied the concept of educational messaging about proper recycling habits citywide. Mitch was the first Sanitation enforcement officer to “tag” residential blue cans with notifications to alert residents if they were putting the wrong type of materials in the cans. This program has since expanded and we now have a team of six enforcement officers who work to keep contamination levels in cans as low as possible.
  • The next focus for Mitch was helping implement a new program for special event recycling. “He’s always looking for creative ways to minimize waste,” noted Debbie Lyons, the Sustainability Division Director. He works with vendor applicants at city events like the Pride Festival and Living Traditions to implement waste reduction strategies. When submitting a permit application, vendors are asked to take steps such as not selling plastic water bottles and using as few disposable items as possible. This foresight significantly reduces the volume of waste at these events.
  • Mitch has also been instrumental in implementing the City’s Construction and Demolition Waste Diversion Ordinance, which requires at least 55% of construction waste to be recycled. Working closely with other city employees, Mitch coordinated with SLC’s building permit office to research and enact this ordinance which was modeled after LEED standards.
  • Recently, Mitch has been involved in the expansion of our recycling ordinance to include business and multi-family properties. The goal is to expand recycling collection beyond residential households and accommodate collection for local businesses and apartments. Mitch, along with other City employees, has hosted workshops with local property managers and businesses; fielded questions; and offered consultations on how they can implement recycling programs at their locations.

“Mitch is a great example of how a young person can get started in the waste management industry through any one of many entry points that can lead in diverse and exciting directions,” said Cory Young, program manager for the Waste & Recycling Division. “He’s worked tirelessly to help design and implement Salt Lake City’s waste diversion initiatives over the last nine years and is helping us move to our goal of zero-waste by 2040.”

Thank you for your service and dedication to helping our community recycle, Mitch!

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