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Stewardship: the cornerstone of a healthy planet

 

Project Management


In many areas of salaried employment, I followed the principles of “project management” whether initiating the first pesticide container return programme or developing the approaches to implementing the stewardship portions of the 1988 amendments to the FIFRA, the US pesticide law.  Yet, my unequivocal experience as a project manager began simultaneous with my 1992 foray into free-lance consulting: implementing ambitious and complex, multifaceted projects with huge potential liabilities and always limited resources.

Improving the sustainabiity of container recovery TPSA Reno Nevada, USA 2007-02-27

One example was the organization now known as the Ag Container Recycling Counsel (ACRC).  My client had begun the task of developing an industry sponsored container stewardship effort just a little over 3 years before.  There were also several state programmes operating independently with no interest in being absorbed by the ACRC including the one I founded in Maine.  The industry consortium had retained two contractors for collection in the entire USA and had a working protocol in mind.  My task was to grow the programme, within a limited budget, execute almost all of the outreach, bring other states into the organization while maintaining tight control of what was a potentially risky process. I also oversaw the conversion of recovered pesticide container plastic into non-consumer oriented manufactured products that helped deferr the costs to the total effort.  My tenure as part-time consultant programme manager spanned the years of late 1992 until early 2006.  This was a period of growth for the organization that also included the agricultural downturn in 1998 and the 2002 Recession.  Pounds of plastic collected are just one measure of successful project.  During this period, constant vigilance was maintained with a number of new contractors brought in to serve differing regions of this large nation.  Some frankly did not perform safely or in a cost effective manner and my role was to detect weaknesses, confront each situation and find an improved replacement.  I, with help from our consulting financial officer at the time, developed a mass balance procedure that virtually precluded any fraud or gross mismanagement.  During this 13 year period of project management there were never any serious allegations of property or product contamination that endangered the client companies or the organization. 


NYS DEC Image

 NYS DEC Image

Another complex project that did include, with the client’s guidance, initiation , development, outreach, procurement and monitoring of services was the CleanSweepNY obsolete pesticide and container programme.  The client was ultimately the NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation.  From 2002 to the end of 2006, this effort made a circuitous path around the State of New York, successfully collecting in temporary selected collection centres, over 246 metric tonnes of obsolete pesticides, school laboratory chemicals, and a number of kilograms or elemental mercury and other hazardous substances.  This project also collected quantities of metal and plastic pesticide containers.  The metal containers were certified as adequately cleansed and received certificates of recycling.  The plastic containers were fed into the ACRC programme.  After a hiatus of almost 2 years, this effort resumed in 2008 under new management.  CleanSweep NY has now has collected, since the 2002 startup, over a million pounds (481.5 metric tonnes) of obsolete pesticides and other hazardous substances.

 

Toxicologist Stephen Wessels conducting class in Vilnius, LT.

 Toxicologist Stephen Wessels-DHIgroup.com Ministry of Health, LT


For 18 months, beginning in September 2006, I served as Director of a detailed and complex project agreed to by the Republic of Lithuania as a condition to their accession into the European Union.  This effort to strengthen and improve the registration and enforcement capacities for non-farm pesticides (Biocides) within the State Environmental Health Centre had a number of requirements.  These tasks included upgrading the chemical registration system, improve risk based dossier review through training of human and environmental risk assessors, train enforcement officers in every department that might interface with biocides and recommend further improvements in the relevant EU Directives.  This monumental project was singled out for exceptional accreditation by European auditors for completion on time, within budget, with not only no deficiencies, but also additional accomplishments above and beyond the original mandates. 

If you have a complex environmental management project requiring exceptional skills and experience, please contact me.

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