Dean Smith: IRC Recycling Rock Star
Updated: Sep 15, 2021
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Dean Smith is an accomplished veteran in the realm of Indiana sustainability. A member of the Indiana Recycling Coalition (IRC) since its birth, he has devoted much of his life to improving the environment and remains dedicated to strengthening the circular economy.
Just last year, Smith accepted the 2019 Award of Distinction from Ball State University’s Natural Resources & Environmental Management Alumni Society. However, his contributions to cleaner living stretches back through the decades.
“I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and I spent a lot of time outdoors. Through that I developed a love for the environment. I’d like to see it preserved through future generations,” Smith said.
This desire influenced many of his major decisions in his careers. Smith acted as the director of Madison County Environmental Management Office. While holding this position, he closed down a small county landfill when it had reached capacity. All the while Smith and his team monitored nearby wells, types of grasses and plants, and their locations to study the effects the landfill made on them.
He then served as the first Director of the East Central Indiana Solid Waste District (ECISWD) and performed in that capacity for 23 years. Under his directorship, he supervised the establishment of a full-service recycling center in every member county of ECISWD. In 1999, the District earned the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Recycling.
Smith also directed a district grant program that distributed several million dollars to ECISWD communities to help with local recycling programs. Smith lobbied at the Indiana State House for legislation that supported sound solid waste management. It was during this endeavor that he witnessed the role local legislators can play if they lead their communities.
In his affiliation with the IRC, Smith led as Chairman to a $1 million statewide media campaign known as “Indiana’s Had It Up To Here.” The campaign developed recycling education and awareness materials. In an exciting partnership, the media campaign produced TV commercials with then-Colts’ quarterback Jim Harbaugh.
One of his favorite projects resulted in fun, interactive community education. Smith partnered with recycling initiatives across Indiana to purchase Hand Chairs. Just like they sound, these fun chairs are sculpted from recycled materials into the shape of hands. Smith involved the community’s schools, fairs, and events to showcase the Hand Chairs to show the creativity of recycling.
Written by Holland Cluff