Name: Richard McHale
New title: Director, Austin Resource Recovery
Previous title: Deputy director, Austin Resource Recovery
McHale has worked with ARR for more than 30 years, and was elevated to the director role by Interim City Manager Jesús Garza on Sept. 8.
"This is an incredible honor, and I am humbled to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity. As I step into this new role, I am committed to upholding the values, principles and high standards that have been the foundation of ARR’s success,” McHale said in a statement announcing his appointment.
In a release, the city said McHale was "instrumental" in beginning Austin's single-stream recycling and curbside composting programs. He also assisted with cleanup following Winter Storm Mara earlier this year and led the development of the city's Recycle & Reuse Drop-off center.
In his new role, McHale will oversee a $4 million grant from the U.S. EPA announced last week that will go toward setting up a reuse warehouse in Austin. The facility will accept drop-off donations and redistribute furniture to regional nonprofit organizations, per a release last week. The grant is pending approval of the project by the Austin City Council; ARR hopes to open the warehouse by 2026.
The warehouse is part of Austin's broader zero waste plan. In it, the city sets a goal of diverting 90% of waste from landfills by 2040. Per the plan's most recent update, Austin's diversion rate was nearly 42% in 2021.
McHale will also navigate challenges related to extreme heat in Austin. ARR's fleet has been scrutinized by public officials as they work to ensure truck operators have functioning air conditioning during hot summer collection shifts. In an August memo, ARR reported 13 trucks had outstanding work orders related to A/C issues, KVUE reported.
McHale's work on safety includes his role spearheading efforts to get "Slow Down to Get Around" legislation passed in Texas as head of the state’s SWANA chapter, per the release. He also previously served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Municipal Waste Management Association.