Of the 21 candidates for four National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) awards, two local agencies emerged as particularly innovative. One’s not even in the waste industry, per se.

Technically, the Emerald Coast Utility Authority (ECUA) in Pensacola, Fla., is a water and sewer utility. However, its program that combines yard waste with biosolids earned two awards, one for public education and a new award.

The agency’s Biosolids Composting Facility won the new award: Excellence in Organics Recycling. The facility produces bloom, a nationally certified compost that’s bringing in revenue while helping meet the state’s 75% recycling rate mandate.

Recognizing that getting high-quality input feedstock quality was crucial, ECUA conducted extensive outreach before the facility opened. The four-tiered campaign began by focusing on quality in order to reduce contamination, introduced the facility, made sure employees understood the process, and educated end user markets about the product to ensure the compost would be utilized. For this, the agency earned the Excellence in Public Education award.

Another Florida agency, the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County, earned an Excellence in Public Education honorable mention with its Run AWAY program. Waste Management’s “Recycle Often. Recycle Right” also received an honorable mention.

Other winners:

Sustainability Partnership Game Changer: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Waste Diversion Program with ASI Waste and Reduction in Motion. The school’s Facilities Management Department has diverted 3 million pounds annually since 2006. Among other activities, the department proactively conducts routine waste sorts to determine what items can be diverted based on availability of processing and end markets.

Honorable mention: Publix and Goodwill Industries Recycling for collaborating to donate seasonal items from Publix stores to Goodwill.

Recycling Equipment Innovator of the Year: BinBisa Decorative Recycling Bins. Company surveys show that its decorative recycler, which takes up the same space as a standard bathroom trash bin, increase recycling rates.

Recycling Facility of the Year: Republic Services Southern Nevada Recycling Center. Billed as the largest and smartest residential recycling center in North America, the facility processes 70 tons per hour via “smart” systems that make millisecond decisions using highly automated, touch-screen control systems. The building is made from 75% recycled steel; 1,776 rooftop solar panels convert the location’s abundant sunshine into 15% of the facility’s power needs.

Construction and Demolition Debris Recycler of the Year (new award): Zanker Recycling of San Jose, Calif. A new facility with drum separators that adjust to the needs of variable material streams handles sheet rock, wiring, carpet, and vinyl flooring, items not generally captured in other C&D recycling operations. Recycling rate: 86%.

“These awards honor the very best in the industry for excellence in educating the public about smart ways to recycle; creating innovative approaches to advance our work; constructing state of the art facilities to make waste and recyclables collection safer, faster and more efficient; excellence in recycling in the construction and demolition space; and revolutionary partnerships that help to protect the environment and increase collaboration within the recycling ecosystem,” says NWRA President and CEO Sharon Kneiss. “Our industry continues to make great strides in safety, engineering and community engagement, which not only helps to makes us more effective but also yields better results for the environment and savings for the households and businesses we serve.”