Congratulations to the 2020 RAM Award Winners!

Green Project of the Year: Vomela

Vomela St. Paul Earns ISO 9001:2015 Certification | Business Wire

Vomela completed an installation of a 3,400-panel solar array at its new 300,000-square-foot headquarters, now making it St Paul’s largest power array. The system can generate up to 1.3 megawatts of power.  It provides roughly one-third of the power for Vomela’s facility, or enough to power 200 average Minnesota homes.

Public Service Award: Commissioner Douglas Huebsch

Douglas A. Huebsch | Otter Tail County, MN

Doug Huebsch, an Otter Tail County Commissioner, has displayed dedication, an entrepreneurial spirit, and an overall vision for recycling and resource recovery. Doug has been a county commissioner for 12 years and is finishing up this third and final term. During his time as commissioner, he has also faithfully served on the Prairie Lakes Municipal Solid Waste Authority board since its inception in 2011, often assuming the chair or vice-chair role. Doug was instrumental in the Perham Resource Recovery Facility expansion project, which included adding a front-end Materials Recovery Facility to remove Old Corrugated Containers, ferrous, and non-ferrous metal prior to combustion. He has also been extremely supportive of the county’s recycling initiatives including expanding curbside single-sort recycling and its fledgling agricultural plastic recycling program.



Denise Kolar Award: Kris Kaar, RRS Kris Kaar -

Kris Kaar is a senior consultant at RRS, bringing 30 years of experience in research, planning, communication and program management in solid waste and recycling programs. Due to her extensive work with the Carton Council, Kris has developed an expertise in adding new materials to existing recycling programs and expanding access to recycling for select materials. Kris and RRS have supported the Carton Council on the way to their goal of 60% U.S. carton recycling access through data research and analysis, communications and outreach, and policy/legislative monitoring and support.

Kris has a long-standing relationship with RAM and has been actively involved in our work to educate citizens, elected officials, and industry leaders on trending recycling issues such as supplying mixed feedstock during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recycler of the Year: Minnesota MRFs

MRFs are Mixed Recovery Facilities, specialized plants that receive, separate, and prepare recyclable materials for marketing to end-use manufacturers. There are 21 MRFs within Minnesota. The MRFs have continued to provide outstanding service to the public, the recycling industry, and consumers despite the many challenges presented during the COVID-19 pandemic, including contaminated waste, worker safety and absences, and a shortage of end markets.


Individuals, businesses, or organizations that have contributed to the betterment of recycling or other resource conservation efforts in the state of Minnesota are eligible for RAM awards. Only RAM members can submit an award application, however, a nominee does not need to be a RAM member. Below are the award categories and the criteria to qualify for each category.



Green Project Award

This award recognizes a special green project in Minnesota that has demonstrated progressive leadership of an environmental issue with outstanding results.

Criteria for award:

  • 6 months’ worth of data history to prove the green project is working well
  • Demonstrate innovation through reducing waste, carbon footprint, water usage or other environmental issue important to Minnesota
  • Goals to expand the program in the near future
  • Preference given to RAM member


Public Service Award

This award recognizes an elected official who has demonstrated outstanding service for the betterment of recycling and resource conservation

Criteria for award:

  • History of public service for the betterment of recycling and resource conservation
  • Grasp of operational details of the recycling industry
  • Consistent support for recycling initiatives, proposals or programs
  • Seeks input on recycling and resource issues from diverse groups or individuals from an inclusive approach to policy making


Recycler of the Year

An individual, business, or organization that has demonstrated outstanding service as a recycling service provider or advocate.

Criteria for award:

  • Display initiative and commitment to recycling (such as expanding types of materials collected)
  • Demonstrate innovation and leadership in recycling (such as having an above average recycling rate)
  • Active in recycling market development or environmentally preferable purchasing (including buying recycled)
  • Support of groups with environmental focus through contributions or in-kind donations
  • Preference given to RAM member


Denise Kolar Award

Denise Kolar, Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, Solid Waste Program Coordinator, was one of RAM’s founders and devoted many years as a board member and volunteer.

The Denise Kolar award honors a member of RAM who has devoted a tremendous amount of energy, goodwill and effort to benefit RAM.

Criteria for award:

  • Donated an exceptional number of hours to RAM projects
  • Provided a positive example of leadership
  • Introduced new members or sponsors to RAM


Click here to submit a nomination! Submission must be received by November 6, 2020.

Congratulations to the 2019 award winners!

Green Project Award: The Deck and Door Company – Bob Heidenreich and Dan Olsen

The Deck and Door Company, led by Bob Heidenreich and recycling enthusiast-employee Dan Olsen, win this award for their creative reuse of cardboard boxes into packing material for outgoing shipments that has replaced their use of Styrofoam peanuts.







Public Service Award: Representative Rick Hansen

Rep. Hansen has a long history of supporting recycling, product stewardship and sustainable environmental practices on all fronts. In 1989, he initiated the nation’s first pesticide container collection program. Recently, he has been a leader in the fight to test and manage contaminants like micro-plastics in the environment. A perennial pollinator champion, Rep. Hansen successfully introduced and passed, the “Lawns to Legumes” program  which combats one of the major threats to bees and other pollinators—habitat loss—and could serve as a national model for turning our ever-expanding urban and suburban areas into pollinator paradises.





Recycler of the Year Award: Costco Maplewood

The Costco Warehouse in Maplewood, notably the recycling champion, Jennifer Edman, has demonstrated an impressive commitment to expanding their existing single stream and organics recycling programs. Jennifer Edman lead the Costco team to add recycling and organics containers to the warehouse back-of-house areas, including staff break rooms, which has contributed to an increased rate of collection of recycling and organic materials.







Denise Kolar Award: Brita Sailer

Brita’s dedication to the environment is felt from her home in Northern Minnesota, to the state capitol and the RAM office. Her work with the RAM spans 20+ years through service on the Board of Directors and as the Executive Director for the past 6.5 years.