Mark C. Wilfalk, A Genuine Hero

Waste and Recycling Workers Week would like to say “Thank you!” for the excellent leadership you’ve given for the men and women in the waste industry. Through your support we are able to reach new heights.

Mark C. Wilfalk completed his Bachelor of Science Degree in communications from the University of Florida in 1994.  Prior to graduating from the University of Florida, Mark worked as an intern with the City of Gainesville Solid Waste Department to promote the City’s new semi-automated collection program. As his career in the solid waste industry continued to evolve, he worked with the Alachua County Public Works Department as a Recycling Specialist.


In 1996, Mr. Wilfalk moved to the Tampa Bay region to work with Kimmins Recycling Corporation as an Operations Supervisor. In July 1998, Mark joined the City of Tampa Department of Solid Waste as a Solid Waste Supervisor. From 1998 to 2005, he worked as an Assistant Solid Waste Manager.


In 2005, he was promoted to serve the City of Tampa as the Chief of Operations for the Department of Solid Waste and Environmental Program Management. As the Chief of Operations, his strategic focus areas were concentrated on building and maintaining a customer centric Department focused on outstanding service delivery, public health & safety, and environmental stewardship throughout the City of Tampa.     In that role he created a dynamic team of Solid Waste and Environmental professionals recognized as the premier leaders in the Solid Waste industry. His mission has always been to provide outstanding collection, disposal, and environmental services that enhance the quality of life in our community through superior stewardship.


March 2, 2014, Mr. Wilfalk was promoted to Director of the Department of Solid Waste and Environmental Program Management.   He is responsible for the oversight of seven business units which includes the McKay Bay Waste to Energy Facility and a staff of 215 employees.     His Department is responsible for refuse collection and disposal for approximately 84,000 residential and commercial customers. Annually, the City of Tampa processes up to 360,000 tons of solid waste, of which eighty-eight percent is received at the McKay Bay Refuse-to-Energy Facility where it is converted to produce enough electrical power to support 15,000 Tampa homes. Mark has led the efforts to reduce the City’s dependency on foreign oil by implementing the City’s first alternative fuel vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG).


Some of Mr. Wilfalk’s current initiatives and accomplishments include:


  • Capital Improvement project to upgrade the City’s, outdated and inadequate transfer station to better serve citizens.
  • City Code Revisions to better reflect today’s collection service and needs. The existing code has not been updated since 1984.
  • Oversight of the State of Florida Brownfields Program and environmental compliance of City projects, programs and facilities (i.e., Waterworks Park).
  • Partnered with Hillsborough County to offer increased opportunities for Hazardous Waste/Electronics Collection and Disposal. Prior to this partnership, City residents were offered disposal of these items once a year and at one location.  Now, there are many dates and county-wide locations throughout the year making it convenient for Tampa residents.
  • The Department currently boasts a 99.9% on-time residential collection service delivery.
  • Under his leadership, the Department has increased outreach / education and partnerships to include the University of South Florida and local schools. Recent public service announcements (PSA’s) and interviews include services such as our Transfer Station, the SWEEP program and the McKay Bay Waste-to-Energy Facility.  The Recycling Division has an annual Art & Poetry Contest – engaging school children at the elementary, middle and high school levels to create an awareness of the importance of recycling.  The winning students are recognized in a variety of ways.  Some of which include having their artwork displayed on a Departmental vehicle and meeting the Mayor.

From a leadership perspective, communication is key.  He holds monthly ‘Director’s Call’ meetings, an all hands on deck meeting at 6 a.m.  During the meetings, he shares City-wide projects taking place, policy updates, safety updates and other pertinent information.  He also recognizes staff, as appropriate, for outstanding service provided or responsible practices in the areas of:  safety, teamwork, accomplishment, responsibility or sustainability.  The program is named “STARS,” the acronym of the 5 core values.


Wilfalk worked his way up from driving a truck to leading the team.  He is able to relate to all aspects of the Department and is respected at all levels.  Annually, he will return to driving a truck and running a route, just to show the team that he is willing and able to ‘walk in their shoes,’ and he hasn’t forgotten where he came from.


He is committed to safety – his top priority and annually spearheads an incentive based program, partnering with local sponsors, called “100 Days of  Safe Summer.”   Employees with no accidents or incidents whatsoever during the 100 days of summer – when the Florida heat and children playing in the neighborhood streets could affect drivers receive recognition for their safe driving efforts.


Mr. Wilfalk is also a champion for his staff and recognizes pay inequities with other municipalities or, even within our municipality, but among other Departments.  He has proactively identified and outlined those inequities and has fought for equal pay for his ‘solid waste professionals.’     He consistently works to improve the public’s perception of the Department employees.  He recognizes that our folks – men and women are more than ‘just’ garbage men and women.  He sees and calls them solid waste professionals and does not hesitate to recognize his team as “one of the few professionals who continue to make house calls on a weekly basis.”  He is also quick to remind people of how important they really are.  Just let a pick-up be missed – their value is immediately noticed.  The Department’s mission is “We will be recognized as a world-class organization in the provision of waste resource management and the public’s choice for safe innovative services.”   He reviews the mission, vision and values at each monthly meeting and reminds staff that we must go that extra mile and make a difference.


Mr. Wilfalk consistently builds relationships with other municipalities, agencies, neighborhood associations and organizations. He volunteers and supports many events and encourages staff to do the same to create awareness of our Department.   Some of our Departmental volunteer efforts include teams for the annual American Heart Association’s Heart Walk, March of Dimes, United Way,  Paint Your Heart Out Tampa, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, the Mayor’s Neighborhood University, SWANA and the City’s, Black History Committee.   He is a community leader and recently was asked to emcee a significant grand opening ceremony for Tampa’s, state of the art, Perry Harvey Park and the Mayor’s State of the City Address.