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Apply for 2021 WasteWise Awards

WasteWise Partner and Endorser awards are based on data reported in the SMM Data Management SystemExit (partners and endorsers) and a narrative description of activities (partners and endorsers). In addition to reported data and narrative description of activities, winners are selected based on results of both civil and criminal enforcement screens.  To be eligible for awards, both partners and endorsers must have submitted 2020 annual data and 2021 annual goals by March 31, 2021. Award applications are due by April 30, 2021.

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Partner Data Awards

Partner awards will be given based on data reported. "Partner of the Year" awards will be given in multiple sector-based categories. "Honorable Mention" awards may also be given. Award categories are the same as in previous years and include the following:

Partner Award Categories  
Business Very Large Business (20,000 + employees)
Large Business (1,000 to 19,999 employees)
Mid-size Business (500 to 999 employees)
Small Business (1 to 499 employees)
Government Federal Government
State Government
Local Government
Tribal Government
Education College/University
School/School District
Non-Profit Non-profit Organization

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How to Apply for a Partner Data Award

Partners can apply for awards until April 30, 2021. To apply for a 2021 WasteWise partner award, log onto your SMM Data Management SystemExit account and fill out and submit a “Partner of the Year” award application form.

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Evaluation Criteria for Partner Data Awards

EPA will use the partner's 2019 and 2020 reported data to evaluate 2021 awards. Quantitative results from reported data for waste prevention (WP), recycling (R), and disposal (D) will serve as the key elements for award evaluations. The following weighted criteria will be aggregated and used in evaluating award applications:

  • Annual Improvement in 2020 (25 percent):  Percentage point change in the waste diversion rate (waste prevention + recycling as a percentage of total generation) from 2019 to 2020.
  • Overall Performance in 2020 (25 percent): Percent that waste diversion plays in the overall management of materials.
  • Waste Prevention Performance in 2020 (50 percent): Percent that waste prevention plays in overall management of materials.

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Partner and Endorser Narrative Awards

Partner and Endorser narrative awards recognize results that may differ from your data results. Given the COVID 19 pandemic, narrative awards are especially significant.

Narrative Award Categories Description
Endorser of the Year The Endorser of the Year award recognizes outstanding efforts to promote WasteWise as a means to help organizations reduce waste and promote overall sustainable materials management. 
Sustainability Public Education Award The Sustainability Public Education award recognizes partners and endorsers who provided resources and tools for public use to increase awareness of the Sustainable Materials Management Program and their environmental impacts. The award highlights partners and endorsers who provided online resources such as fact sheets, forums, and videos, as well as pre-Covid in person community outreach.
Green Innovator Award Given the unique challenges faced by partners in 2020, the Green Innovator Award recognizes partners who developed or implemented the most unique way to recycle, with special emphasis on recycling achievements accomplished while overcoming pandemic related obstacles. The achievements might include implementing new ways to communicate to communities or using new tools and processes to increase recycling efficiency or to reduce contamination.           
America Recycles Award

The America Recycles award aligns with the America Recycles Initiative and  recognizes  partners and endorsers for their achievements  related to the National Recycling Strategy and/or National Recycling Goal.

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How to Apply for a Partner and Endorser Narrative Award

Partners and Endorsers can apply for awards until April 30, 2021. To apply for a 2021 WasteWise Partner and Endorser Narrative award, log onto your SMM Data Management SystemExit account and fill out and submit a Partner or Endorser award application. In addition, please e-mail your narrative to wastewisehelp@epa.gov. Only partners and endorsers that submit 2020 annual data and 2021 annual goals through the SMM Data Management System will be considered eligible for a 2021 Partner or Endorser Narrative award. Narrative applications must be five pages or less. (Note: Narrative applications greater than five pages will not be considered.) You will receive a confirmation e-mail once your application materials have been received.

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Evaluation Criteria for Partner and Endorser Awards

EPA will use the partner's and endorser’s 2020 reported data and the submitted narrative as evaluation criteria for awards. The award applications will be evaluated based on a weighted average of the following criteria. 

Endorser of the Year Award

The Endorser of the Year award applications will be evaluated based on a weighted average of the following criteria:

Promotional Activities (50 percent)

Scope of Activities: Describe the range of activities conducted in 2020 by your organization to promote WasteWise, including information on the creativity and effectiveness of promotional methods.

Frequency of Efforts: Describe efforts conducted in 2020 to promote WasteWise.

Promotional Results (50 percent)

Quantify the type and number of WasteWise prospective partners that resulted from your promotional efforts in 2020.

Quantify the number of new partners who joined WasteWise as a result of your promotional efforts in 2020.

Quantify the number of new or existing WasteWise partners that you assisted with tracking and/or reporting in 2020.


Sustainability Public Education Award​

The Sustainability Public Education award applications will be evaluated based on a weighted average of the following criteria:

Educational Activities (50%)

Scope of activities – describe the resources and tools you provided for the public’s use to increase awareness of EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program and the related environmental impacts.

Dissemination methods and frequency – provide information on the vehicle(s) used for your dissemination of tools and resources on EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program, such as virtual webinars, conferences, meetings, or newsletters.  Provide information on the frequency of these efforts.

Educational Results (50%)

Quantify the number of companies/organizations you educated on EPA’s Sustainable  Materials Management Program and the related environmental impacts using your resources and tools.  Provide names of these companies/organizations, if possible.

Quantify the number of companies/organizations which incorporated Sustainable Materials Management into their practices as a result of your educational actions.  Provide names of these companies/organizations, if possible.


Green Innovator Award

The Green Innovator Award applications will be evaluated based on a weighted average of the following criteria:

Recycling Activities (50%)

Scope of activities – describe the innovative recycling actions you developed or implemented, with special emphasis on those actions you took to overcome pandemic related challenges.  Examples might include implementing new ways to communicate to communities or using new tools and processes to increase recycling efficiency or to reduce contamination.

Types of materials – provide information on the types of materials you recycled.

Recycling Achievements (50%)

Quantify the volume of materials you recycled using your pandemic related innovative method(s).

Quantify the number of new pandemic related tools or processes you developed or implemented to increase recycling.


America Recycles Award

The America Recycles Award applications will be evaluated based on a weighted average of the following criteria:

Activities (50%)

Scope of activities – describe the actions you took to meet the National Recycling Strategy and/or the National Recycling Goal.  Examples include efforts to reduce contamination in the recycling waste stream; providing expertise to other companies/organizations to reduce contamination in their recycling waste streams; making your or another company/organizations’ recycling processing systems more efficient via use of new equipment or by making curbside recycling more accessible for more Americans, and strengthening the economic markets for recycled materials.

Achievements (50%)

Quantify the amount of contamination you removed from your company/organization’s recycling waste stream or from a company/organization with whom you worked.

Quantify the increased amount of materials recycled by your company due to your making your company/organization’s recycling processing system more efficient.  Quantify the increased amount of materials recycled by a company/organization with whom you worked as a result of your providing expertise on the efficiency of the company/organization’s recycling processing system.

Quantify the increase of recycled content in the products you purchased or manufactured.

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