The New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse & Recycling (NYSAR³) recently honored Barb Eckstrom, longtime TCRMM Director, with the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented during NYSAR³’s Annual Conference in Cooperstown, with Barb accepting the award virtually.
Barb was hired by Tompkins County in 1988 to be the county’s first Solid Waste Manager, tasked with closing the county’s last landfill. She established critical infrastructure focused on the 4Rs — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rethink – and the Recycling and Solid Waste Center became a key component for processing recyclables and transferring waste, as well as accepting food scraps, yard waste, electronics, and household hazardous waste.
During the first two decades of Barb’s leadership, Tompkins County reduced its waste by 60%. Barb’s work as a trailblazer has expanded beyond the County’s borders, demonstrating what is possible to communities throughout the state, and sharing lessons learned along the way.
In a statement, Barb said, “My contributions were hiring excellent and engaged staff, creating strong partnerships with non-profits, the private sector and DEC, creating financial incentives, providing strong customer service and extensive community education.”