Recycling your money is her job |

Recycling your money is her job

David Bunker
Photo by Ryan Salm/Sierra Sun Joanna Walters, owner of Sierra Cost Management, holds the lid of the used cooking oil drum at Dairy Queen in Truckee on Monday.

Recycling was Joanna Walters’ passion long before it became her job.After years of meticulously recycling her own garbage in the Bay Area, Walters quit her consulting work and moved to Truckee in 2003 to start Sierra Cost Management.In her two years in business she has helped keep tons of garbage from going into landfills and saved local businesses thousands of dollars in the process.One of her clients, PlumpJack at Squaw Valley, is sending glass, cardboard, paper and kitchen grease, which before headed straight to the landfill, to recycling companies that will find a second use for them.”Even our kitchen grease goes to the El Dorado [hotel and casino] and they burn it as boiler fuel,” said Mike Murphy, general manager of PlumpJack.

The core of Walters’ business, a one-person recycling consulting operation, is to save businesses money on garbage disposal. She makes money by splitting the garbage disposal savings with her clients.”It’s basically no risk,” Walters said. “If it doesn’t work for your company, you don’t owe me anything.”Walters uses several methods – like adding recycling bins, finding collectors for cardboard, kitchen grease and glass – to boost a company’s recycling capacity. The result is usually a dramatic drop in garbage disposal fees.”Sometimes it is very simple,” Walters said. “Sometimes it is just them not having knowledge of recycling.”But other times Walters has to dig a little deeper – looking at purchasing habits, finding buyers for kitchen grease, or re-negotiating the price a business gets for its recyclables.”It’s not just recycling – my bottom line is spending … so any way to reduce the trash at all [I work on],” Walters said.

Just recently, waste products that were worthless have become sought after for second uses or as alternative fuels.”Now there are two or three companies collecting oil, so there are basically grease wars,” Walters said.That is a sign of hope for Sierra Cost Management. The Truckee-Tahoe area now has more ways for businesses to recycle as companies realize the value of materials that were previously looked at as pure waste, said Walters.”It’s only going to get better because hopefully the market for recycled materials will get better,” she said. For PlumpJack, the partnership with Sierra Cost Management has been a success.”It greatly reduces the amount of garbage we put in the Dumpster,” Murphy said.

But Murphy said there is a greater reward for the new programs than just the savings that come to the business every month.”I think the greater value to us is the recycling and doing our part to help the environment,” he said.And Walters, who is getting interest from businesses in downtown Truckee and has already been working with the Pioneer Commerce Center on recycling, says her new job is much more rewarding than her previous consulting gigs. “The first thing that attracted this to me is when you leave your client, you leave them with something positive,” Walters said.To learn more about Sierra Cost Management call (866) 299-4371 or go to

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