Environmental Management System

Environmental Management System - IMPACT

Environmental Management SystemMetro Waste Authority is one of 11 solid waste agencies approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to use an Environmental Management System (EMS) for solid waste management

EMS is a set of management processes and procedures developed by an organization to proactively manage its environmental impacts. It is based on the continual improvement cycle of "plan, do, check and act." Many organizations use an EMS to not only identify and evaluate environmental legal requirements, but to reduce overall environmental impacts and associated regulatory compliance risks. An EMS can also be used to reduce costs and inefficiencies, prevent work disruptions and improve worker morale.

The Iowa EMS for solid waste management focuses on six areas aimed at increasing diversion and/or protecting the environment: 

  • recycling
  • household hazardous waste collection
  • yard waste management
  • water quality improvement
  • greenhouse gas reduction
  • environmental education

The foundation of an EMS is its environmental policy, which expresses an organization's commitment to improving environmental performance, and sets out goals for pollution prevention, regulatory compliance and continuous improvement. The environmental policy was set in January 2003 and remains our guide today.

EMS is led by a core team of employees who serve as program experts. Members of the team include:

  • Leslie Irlbeck, Deputy Director
  • Judi Mendenhall, Director of Recycling and Diversion
  • Michael McCoy, Exective Director
  • Kyle Fischer, Mobile Program Coordinator
  • Art Kern, Compliance Coordinator 
  • Mackensi Burns, Customer Service

EMS empowers every employee to become an environmental steward. Employees can be involved individually by making suggestions for improvement, and in Work Teams that review and implement the environmental improvements.

Objectives are set each year to address significant impacts and achieve continuous improvement in the six focus areas. Our progress on the objectives is reported to DNR annually.


Metro Waste Authority is no stranger to using an EMS. In 2002, we implemented an EMS for operations at the Metro Park East Landfill. The EMS was successful in reducing greenhouse emissions, reducing and controlling spills, cutting reliance on fossil fuel-based lubricants and engaging employees in becoming part of the solution for environmental protection.

Building on this success, Metro Waste expanded the EMS to operations at the Metro Hazardous Waste Drop-Off in 2005. This facility increased office waste recycling, reduced energy consumption by replacing old equipment with more efficient models and developed a new safety training program for employees.

Our success with the EMS led to us advocating for this approach to be used statewide in solid waste management. The approach was adopted in 2008 through Iowa House File 2570 and defines the next generation of environmentally sound practices for solid waste management. Landfill agencies will not only be judged on their ability to divert waste from the landfill, but also on their ability to continuously improve how they protect the environment overall.

For more information on the EMS program, please contact us.