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Hall of Fame
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Hall of Fame

Deadline for applications is December 15, 2018. The Awards Committee will vote to recommend inductees to the Board of Trustees mid-January 2019. The Board of Trustees votes to induct HOF nominees before or during 2019 Industry Conference. The nominee must currently be/ or have been a member in the past. 

Inductees into the Hall of Fame are leaders in the waste and recycling industry who have distinguished themselves through significant contributions to the industry and their community and have been actively engaged in the business for at least 25 years. Begin your application.

Selection Criteria

Nominees are selected on the basis of five criteria:

  • Recognition within the industry as a founder, pioneer, visionary, or icon;
  • Enduring legacy and impact of contributions to the industry for a minimum of 25 years;
  • Steadfast values such as integrity, respect, courage, mentorship, volunteerism, and inclusiveness;
  • Inspirational leadership at a service provider or supplier, or on issues important to the Association;
  • Active industry engagement and indisputable service as an ambassador of the industry.

Industry Contributions

They have made significant contributions to the industry through:

  • Developing innovations in manufacturing or equipment/product design;

  • Designing and implementing novel methods of marketing or conducting business;

  • Building better employer-employee and community relations;

  • Ensuring safer operations;

  • Developing industry standards;

  • Protecting the environment;

  • Engaging in the legislative and regulatory processes;

  • Contributing to civic and philanthropic activities; and/or

  • Participating in the National Waste & Recycling Association or its predecessors.  


Inductees into the ranks of the Hall of Fame include former and current presidents, chief operating officers, and senior executives of disposal operations, trade associations, consulting firms, and manufacturing facilities.


John and Douglas Casella have been pioneers in the solid waste and resource management industry for over four decades. Casella Waste Services, Inc. is leading the industry today in sustainability initiatives, environmentally sound landfill design and construction, design and development of innovative waste handling equipment, the construction of models that preserve recycling as profitable business offering and the development of a robust transfer station and land disposal network throughout the Northeast.

Kenneth Burkett is the founder of American Waste Control, which he started in 1970 collecting residential waste with one truck he drove  himself. Kenneth now has over 10,000 commercial drivers and 30,000 residential drivers at his company. He started his first recycling  operation in 1987 and has recycled over a billion tons of material. One of his landfills is recognized as one of Oklahoma’s most compliant by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

Ronald Mittelstaedt has served in numerous leadership roles throughout his career in this industry, but is most notable in founding Waste Connections, Inc. in 1997. Waste Connections is now the third largest integrated waste company in North America. The company has an $18 billion enterprise value and has created more value for shareholders than any other solid waste company in the past 20 years.

Michael Paine
 started with his company in 1972 working the family farm and supporting their family hauling company. With a great deal of focus and hard work, the hauling company grew and began to thrive in the 1970s. He worked on the routes during the day and then courted new customers and worked on the equipment into the evening. He became the President in 1989 and vowed to maintain the focus on customer service that put Paine’s on the map. Some 27 years later and after vast growth, Paine’s still treats each and every customer with the same care as it did 87 years ago.

Bill Meyer has devoted his entire professional life to the trash business. In 1974, Bill and his father purchased Able Disposal, a two-truck operation at the time, located in Chesterton, Indiana. He knew it would be an ideal place to grow his company and raise a family. Bill single-handedly built Able Disposal, growing the company into a 50-truck operation with approximately 100 employees. Able Disposal became the largest independently operated company in northwest Indiana, before it was acquired by Republic Services. Bill continued with Republic setting a mark for performance and excellence in area operations.

Throughout his career, Kevin Walbridge has held senior leadership roles in the private and public sectors at National Serv-All, Waste Management, Browning-Ferris Industries, Republic Services, and Progressive Waste Solutions. Kevin serves as a member of the NWRA Board of Services Governors and currently serves on the NWRA Board of Trustees. He has also served as Chairman of Environmental Research and Education Foundation. He was one of the first advocates for the use of alternative fuels to power our waste and recycling trucks and is a tireless advocate for indsutry safety.

Last year, our industry lost one of its giants when Charles Walton, founder of Wastequip, passed away at the age of 83. Chuck Walton was a visionary in the waste industry because he recognized the opportunity to consolidate the fragmented waste equipment manufacturing sector of the waste industry. Walton invested his life savings, combining it with $10 million he raised from venture capital firms in Cleveland, to found Wastequip in 1989. During his nearly 20 years with Wastequip, Walton completed 24 acquisitions and started 4 businesses.