Doña Ana County



2018 Recycling & Solid Waste Awards Announced
Las Cruces Area Recyclers Bring home five of the New Mexico Recycling & Solid Waste Diversion Awards!
For Immediate Release
Contact: Sarah Pierpont, New Mexico Recycling Coalition Executive Director
505-603-0558 cell
The New Mexico Recycling Coalition (NMRC) and the Solid Waste Association of North America New Mexico Roadrunner Chapter (NMSWANA) are pleased to announce the 2018 New Mexico Recycling and Solid Waste Awards winners.  Since 2002 NMRC has recognized individuals, businesses and communities that work to reduce waste and support recycling and composting in New Mexico. NMSWANA launched their awards program in 2014. 
Highlights of Las Cruces Area Winners:
Tarkeysha Burton, South Central Solid Waste Authority - Recycling Facility Employee of the Year AND Solid Waste Employee of the Year (Non-Management):
It is rare for an individual to earn recognition for both Solid Waste and Recycling Employee of the year, but Ms. Burton is an ever-busy proponent of recycling and solid waste best-management practices, such as illegal dumping abatement.  As the Recycling coordinator for South Central Solid Waste Authority (SCSWA) she utilizes her expertise to create outreach programs, work to end illegal dumping in the region, find markets for recyclables and coordinate a wide-range of special projects.  She manges over 300 commercial and 32,000 curbside recycling accounts in the City of Las Cruces.
On any given day Ms. Burton approves all communication regarding recycling in her community, posts recycling updates on social media and the SCSWA web page, and answers numerous calls from area residents concerning recycling.  She cosponsors and tables at local community events with Keep Dona Ana County Beautiful and coordinates multi-community clean up events each month.     
Her list of accomplishments includes developing a comprehensive, teacher recycling resource guide, complete with curriculum and lesson plans that align with public school standards and establishing the Green Ladies, a group of professionals women that plan, coordinate and put on sustainable community events.
On a statewide level she is working to take the successful illegal dumping abatement program from Dona Ana County to other parts of the state.  The workshop will take place in Grants this fall to help McKinley and Cibola counties with their illegal dumping issues. 
Sarah Pierpont, Executive Director of the New Mexico Recycling Coalition, noted that, “Keysha Burton is a recycling-force to be reckonned with.  She’s just as comfortable giving a professional presentation on how to best design an effective outreach campaign as she is getting silly with a group of 4th graders while she teaches them how to recycle-right.  New Mexico is truly lucky to have her in our state as an advocate to promote reducing, reusing and recycling.”
Burton is the Secretary of the Board for the New Mexico Recycling Coalition. 
Miguel Silva from Las Cruces, NM (posthumously) – E. Gifford Stack Lifetime Achievement Award AND Terry Nelson Lifetime Achievement Awards
Former Las Cruces City Councilor Miguel Silva was awarded the E. Gifford Stack and the Terry Nelson Lifetime achievement awards, posthumously for pioneering the recycling program in Las Cruces.   Miguel and the Silva family operated a small waste collection company in Southern New Mexico and Eastern Arizona until is it was purchased by Waste Connections in the early 2000s. 
Miguel worked in the family business for 25 years and kept the small hauler in mind when making policy decisions that could affect them.  As part of his City Council duties Miguel served on the SCSWA board as chair or vice chair for eight years.  As Chair he was engaged, and demanded monthly meeting with the Director to review board agendas and provide guidance and insight on issues and projects. 
He was instrumental in bring curbside recycling to the City of Las Cruces, and developed the business model for the small community collection facilities currently being adopted today in Dona Ana County.  Miguel loved the waste business and proudly had the nickname of “Basura Man.”  He was also the first recycling coordinator employed by the City of Las Cruces, and responsible for the creation of the recycling road runner sculpture that welcomes travelers to the City. 
Today the Silva Sanitation legacy continues, while Miguel was a second generation trash man Matthew Whelan, his nephew was recently named as the Director of Solid Waste Management for the City of Albuquerque, a third generation trash man.  Matthew Whelan accepted the award on his Uncle’s behalf and delighted attendees with stories about his Uncle’s dedication to diversion and pride in solid waste operations.
Patrick Peck, Director of the South Central Solid Waste Authority, noted that, “I knew Miguel for 25 years and miss his presence in my life daily.  I can think of no award he would cherish more greatly than this and I believe it pays tribute to the man, his family, and their continued impact on the waste business in New Mexico.”
South Central Solid Waste Authority Chaparral Collection Center - Solid Waste Facility of the Year
The Chaparral Community Collection Center opened in May of 2017 and services the 25,000 residents of the unincorporated community of Chaparral in both Dona Ana and Otero Counties. It offers recycling and household hazardous waste drop off services, green waste and scrap tire drop off as well as municipal solid waste (MSW) transfer services.
Key to this project was the community engagement and employment preference given to area residents. The community has two very active community groups, the Chaparral Improvement Group and the Chaparral Community Development group. SCSWA staff attends these regular meetings and works with the community to solve their waste management needs. An example is the waste and litter left after the 4th of July celebration. Many Texas residents come to Chaparral and celebrate the 4th of July and New Mexico's fireworks. After the celebration the community is left with spent fireworks all over the place. SCSWA now provides dumpsters during the holiday and works with community members to clean up the litter.
Staff at the facility come from the community, as there is a hiring preference given to applicants living with 15 miles of the collection center. Of the six staff members, four are from Chaparral and two are from Anthony. Additionally, SCSWA pays all of their employees’ wages based on the City of Las Cruces minimum wage requirements. SCSWA’s internal minimum wage is $10.46 per hour.
SCSWA produced 4 Community Connections newsletter in the community through Eco Partners to inform the community of issues concerning illegal dumping, waste management, and recycling.
The key to the facility is that it was designed to not only manage MSW from individual residents but also from commercial haulers. The revenue generated from the commercial haulers pays for the facility and staff while the community gets the benefits of having a full service collection center open 7 days a week.
SCSWA has an excellent record of NMED compliance and has the highest safety rating of any municipality in the state. In 2018 SCSWA was recognized by SWANA for safety program at WASTECON, and in 2017 SCSWA won the Community Recycling Program of the Year from the National Recycling Coalition. 
The full list of the 2018 Recycling and Solid Waste Award winners includes:
2018 New Mexico Recycling Coalition Award Winners:

  • Diversion Project of the Year – Los Alamos County Environmental Services
  • Recycling Facility Employee of the Year (Non-Management) – Keysha Burton, South Central SW Authority
  • Collaborative Partnership Program of the Year – Chamisal ReUse Center
  • Recycling/Composting Facility of the Year – North West NM Regional Solid Waste Authority  
  • Composting Facility Employee of the Year (Non-Management) – Martin Lachuga
  • Recycler of the Year – Duane Kinsley and employees of Sport Systems of Albuquerque
  • E. Gifford Stack Lifetime Achievement Award – Miguel Silva from Las Cruces, NM (posthumously)

2018 New Mexico Solid Waste Association of North America Award Winners:

  • Solid Waste Facility of the Year – South Central Solid Waste Authority Chaparral Collection Center
  • Solid Waste Innovative Project of the Year – Chamisa Elementary School-and Zero Waste Lunch Programs
  • Solid Waste Employee of the Year (Non-Management): Keysha Burton, South Central SW Authority
  • Terry Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award – Miguel Silva from Las Cruces, NM (posthumously)

The recycling awards were presented on September 25th at the jointly hosted New Mexico Recycling and Solid Waste Conference: Local Actions for Global Markets that took place at the Albuquerque Marriott Uptown.  The conference brought together over 200 individuals working in recycling and solid waste and representing rural and urban municipalities, counties, federal entities, universities, tribes, solid waste associations and businesses.  Topics included best practices in both recycling and solid waste management, such as the reducing contamination at the curb and drop-off centers, development of domestic recycling markets, the evolving composition of recyclables and waste, safety, recycling as strategic planning, landfill gas management and more.
Your Part
By recycling, you play a critical role in supporting jobs, assisting in economic growth, conserving energy and natural resources, as well as ensuring a higher quality of life for future generations.  It’s your job to “recycle right” – that means only putting items into your curbside or drop off recycling carts that your community accepts.  Find out  where and what to recycle in Dona Ana County at   Never bag your recyclables, this means never putting any sort of plastic bag in your curbside or drop off recycling carts.  This includes trash bags!  These items are considered “tanglers” and wrap around the equipment at the recycling plant and cause the plant to shut down to clean out their equipment.  Plastic bags can be recycled at retail locations.  To find one near you, visit