- The U.S. Forest Service recently hired Bend, OR-based Triple Flare Recycling to provide waste and recycling services to crews at fire camps in Willamette National Forest, according to a press statement.
- Triple Flare is already seeing results in the services it provided crews battling the Whitewater Fire, which are made up of an estimated 670 personnel and cover 15 square miles. The company reported a 44% diversion rate in a mid-August audit.
- According to company founder Phil Torchio, Triple Flare is collecting 10,000 plastic water bottles each week and 7 yards of cardboard each day. The bottles are being redeemed through Oregon Bottle Drop and the money is being credited back to the government.
Wildfires are a regular occurrence in the western U.S., and with larger ones popping up, crews will certainly be out fighting the blazes for some time. Large crews are of course going to generate waste but, according to Triple Flare, large amounts of waste generated by those crews were being landfilled instead of sorted for recycling. Just as hurricanes and tropical storms in the southeast create challenges and opportunities for waste collection, so do wildfires in the west.
The niche service — which seems, so far, to be hugely successful — provided by Triple Flare shows that a company doesn't have to offer a massive conglomerate of services to be successful. Companies and organizations that specifically target colleges and universities have made great strides in organics collection and waste diversion, for example. While not every niche program has been successful enough to continue long-term, there are so many product and commodity types — from e-waste to pharmaceuticals — that innovative enterprises for recycling and processing unique waste streams have a lot of potential.
According to an executive summary of the operation at the Whitewater Fire camps, there was a "strong desire to recycle in the field" from the crews. Younger crews, especially, were found to have a stronger inclination to recycle while in the field. As younger Americans continue to highlight protecting the environment as a top priority, the waste industry will have to continue to emphasize environmental stewardship to keep consumer trust.