Zero Waste Champion Leading Her Team to Victory

Waste and recycling professionals work hard every day to protect the environment for all of us. We’ve all seen the drivers who collect our waste and recycling, but there are many more workers behind the scenes. All of them deserve our thanks for the work they do.

Zero Waste Champion Leading Her Team to Victory 

Purchasing & Inventory Specialist Heysell Montes De Oca 

Heysell Montes De Oca came to Athens Services in 2021 and is the Purchasing & Inventory Specialist for the City of Industry and Puente Hills Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs). She is responsible for ordering truck parts and ensuring that they are delivered on time so that Athens vehicles are always up and running. Last spring, Heysell took on an additional role as the Zero Waste Champion for the City of Industry MRF.

In celebration of Earth Day 2022, Athens kicked off the first companywide Zero Waste Campaign (ZWC) to strengthen the company’s sustainability practices. Each office/yard designated a champion to lead their location throughout the 5-month ZWC.

May – Organics Collection

June – Bring Your Own (BYO) Reusables

July – Foam Elimination

August – Single-Use Plastic Elimination

September – Removal of Individual Desk Container

As a Zero Waste Champion, Heysell was tasked with familiarizing her team at the MRF and maintenance shop with the new zero waste practices. Each month, she raised awareness on how we as a company can reduce our environmental footprint.

“Each month I would put up flyers about the ZWC and would let my team members know what was going on,” said Heysell. “I found that the weekly safety meetings are also a great time to get everybody involved.”

For a competitive element to the campaign, all yards and offices were asked to submit photos of themselves or fellow team members interacting with that month’s theme. Heysell regularly shared photos of the MRF, which led to two team members winning a prize during the first two months of the campaign.

Throughout the ZWC, some initiatives were more hands-on than others. When it came to the removal of individual desk containers, some adjustment and creativity were needed.

“I’m pretty sure that if the [Resource Recovery Stations] were in a corner where no one could see them then people would have struggled,” said Heysell. The MRF’s custodial crew was instrumental in keeping waste receptacles in common areas where everyone can easily access them.

Thanks to Heysell’s efforts and the active participation of her fellow 220+ team members, the City of Industry MRF was selected as the winning location of the ZWC. Heysell credits regular face-to-face interactions as the key ingredient for her location’s success.

While the first ZWC has ended, the initial campaign themes will live on and serve as a springboard for future initiatives. Heysell encourages her fellow Zero Waste Champions to keep up the momentum and continue their location’s waste reduction efforts.

Heysell is originally from Managua, Nicaragua and came to the United States 13 years ago. She currently resides in West Covina alongside her husband of two years, Alfredo, who is an Athens roll-off driver at a neighboring yard. Both Heysell and Alfredo see themselves growing within the company. In her free time, Heysell enjoys spending time with her family.

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