Invited Session: Waste Management Challenges

Prince George’s County, Maryland: Leading the Way in Recycling and Waste Diversion (0.5 CEU)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
10:15 – 10:45
Room 309

Prince George’s County, Maryland, is a densely populated county immediately east of Washington, D.C., that made an official commitment to increase drastically its recycling efforts while providing major,  immediate and cost-effective customer service improvements. Within three years, the county increased its state-wide ranking from 11th place to first place and fulfilled those defined goals. Several of the strategies included a robust residential recycling curbside collection program, mandatory multifamily recycling, a plastic bag ban for yard trim, a polystyrene ban, special event recycling, a county office building recycling program (CORP), an extensive and accelerated organics composting system which includes food scraps, and an aggressive outreach and public education program. Prince George’s County currently leads the state in recycling and diversion rates, with a new standard defined as Resource Recovery and Zero Waste. As of July 1, 2017, the Waste Management Division was renamed the Resource Recovery Division.

Following the presentation, participants will be able to hear firsthand of our successes and resulting learning experiences while managing waste in a county of nearly 1,000,000 residents. Concurrently, the county has developed the future of managing waste as a commodity and is evolving into the concepts of Zero Waste and resource recovery.


Adam Ortiz, Director, Department of the Environment, Prince George’s County, Maryland

Adam Ortiz

Adam Ortiz is director for the Department of the Environment for Prince George’s County, Maryland. He heads a 400-person, $160M agency dedicated to recycling, composting, clean water, renewable energy and humane animal care. Since his assignment in 2012, the county moved from 11th to first in the state for waste diversion, including an award-winning food scrap compost program, and has been recognized by the Washington Post. He launched an innovative public private partnership stormwater retrofit program that is restoring local streams while creating green jobs, an effort recognized by the Aspen Institute, Governing Magazine, Clinton Global Initiative and The White House. Previously, Mr. Ortiz served three terms as mayor of Edmonston, Maryland, a diverse, working-class town outside of Washington, D.C. His accomplishments included a 70 percent drop in crime, a flood control program, an inclusive immigrant-engagement effort, and building the East Coast’s greenest street. The Edmonston Green Street is a model of sustainability using natural bioretention for polluted stormwater in an urban setting, high efficiency LED streetlights powered by wind energy, native plants and trees, improved bike and pedestrian safety, with more than 60 percent local minority contracting, and has received recognition as a Champion of Change by the White House and a Bright Idea Award from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, among other organizations. Before his government service, Mr. Ortiz worked as a Soros Justice Fellow to abolish the death penalty for juveniles, culminating in the landmark 5–4 United States Supreme Court decision, Roper v. Simmons. He was also deputy director for Amnesty International’s Midwest Office (2000–2002) working to abolish the death penalty, police brutality, prison conditions, fairness for asylum seekers and release of prisoners of conscience. As a volunteer, he is a member of the Local Government Advisory Council to the EPA Administrator and served as President of the Maryland Mayor’s Association (2009–2010). He holds a Bachelor’s degree in public policy from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.