Gloucester waste-to-energy facility recognized for proactive wildlife projects and sustainability.
Wheelabrator Technologies, Hampton, New Hampshire, a global waste-to-energy company and subsidiary of Houston-based Waste Management, was recently honored by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) with an environmental stewardship award for its proactive engagement in sustainability initiatives at its Gloucester, New Jersey, waste-to-energy (WTE) facility.
“The NJDEP’s stewardship program recognizes businesses that voluntarily take measures to go above and beyond compliance with our environmental laws and regulations,” says John Giordano, assistant commissioner for compliance and enforcement. “Wheelabrator was recognized in two of our stewardship categories — environmental enhancement projects and community outreach. The company proactively took on the responsibility to vastly improve wildlife habitats, and partnered with other environmental and civic groups to further ensure a sustainable future for New Jersey’s natural resources.”
The state’s voluntary environmental stewardship program has 21 categories in which businesses can achieve recognition for proactive activities that exceed permit requirements.
Wheelabrator reports that its Gloucester facility created and maintains a wildlife refuge and nature trail on 150 acres of wetlands surrounding the WTE facility. Working closely with the New Jersey Audubon Society and the Gloucester County Nature Club, this sanctuary is certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council as a “Wildlife at Work” site that offers a trail system designed to minimize human impacts on wildlife.
In 2012, Wheelabrator Gloucester raised and released 75 bobwhite quail as part of New Jersey’s efforts to restore the Bobwhite quail population. The company says the repopulation effort was the first-of-its-kind in the state. In April 2011, the South Jersey Land and Water Trust (SJLWT) honored Wheelabrator for its wildlife restoration project along Big Timber Creek. The site serves as a classroom for the public to witness how restoring native plant species can benefit wildlife and a habitat for local and migratory species, including resident bald eagles.
In addition to the SJLWT, employees work with multiple partner organizations including the South Jersey Quail Unlimited, the Gloucester County Nature Club, the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife, and the NJDEP to maintain the programs.
Wheelabrator Gloucester partners also with numerous local civic and school groups on other environmental enhancement projects ongoing at its location. Those include two butterfly gardens resulting from a collaboration with the Westville Environmental Commission, Westville, New Jersey. As part of the Wild Wings Project, one garden, created by the Girl Scouts, features wooden butterfly houses painted by local schoolchildren. The other garden graces the pond at Thomas West Park behind Parkview Elementary School. Butterfly and bat houses were also installed along the nature trail by students at West Deptford Middle School who participate in Wheelabrator’s annual Symposium for Environment and Education, now in its 20th year.
“As a leader in converting post-recycled waste into clean, renewable energy for the communities we serve, Wheelabrator’s commitment to sustainability goes beyond our day-to-day operations and includes corporate social responsibility programs designed to foster environmental awareness, education and community engagement,” says Mark Weidman, president of Wheelabrator Technologies. “We applaud our Wheelabrator Gloucester employees for their commitment to environmental stewardship and we extend our sincere gratitude to the NJDEP for recognizing Wheelabrator with its environmental stewardship award.”