February 1, 2012
Founded in 1987, NERC is celebrating its silver anniversary in 2012. Looking back, it seems to have been a constant whirlwind of innovation, success, and collaboration. A unique organization, NERC can boast of its leadership in regional strategies that support environmental and economic sustainability through source reduction, recycling, environmentally preferable purchasing, and recycling market development. NERC has demonstrated its leadership with its projects and has broken new ground in a number of important areas.
As an organization, NERC conducts projects that influence policy and affect change through research, technical assistance, demonstration projects, and education.
Among NERC's many accomplishments since its 20th anniversary are:
- Creating the the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse in collaboration with the National Center for Electronics Recycling.
- Launching the National State Electronics Challenge, as well as securing grants from EPA Region 8 and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in support of this program, along with sponsorships from Samsung, Panasonic, Sims Recycling Solutions, the Consumer Electronics Association, Metech Recycling, and the ISRI R2/RIOS program.
- Staffing and supporting the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse, which has published several significant studies in this period, including: Laboratory Round Robin Test Project: Assessing Performance in Measuring Toxics in Packaging and an Assessment of Heavy Metals in Packaging: 2009 Update.
- Sustaining and expanding the New York Recycling Markets Database, as well as expanding the number of states participating in the database.
- Updating the Recycling Economic Information Study in 2009.
- Creating and supporting the ReuseMarketplace.org; a website linking multiple materials exchanges.
- Managing the Vermont Business Materials Exchange for three years.
- Writing After the Disaster: A Guide for Residents and Small Businesses About Managing Debris Waste, a resource that had special recognition and value in the wake of the many disasters that struck the region in 2011.
- Developing the first national guidance for pharmacies on the collection of unwanted medications from the public.
- Conducting a nine-state project working with 32 towns to promote source reduction, recycling, and composting: Recycling Makes $ense. A number of important resources were written and published, including: Recycling Makes Sen$e workshop presentations and a Recycling Makes Sen$e Guide.
- Conducted and delivered unique manure management workshops in three states, including the development of a handbook and guidance document: Manure Management Handbook for Hobby Farms and the Quick Guide to Developing a Manure Management Plan.
- Conducted six workshops in four states, with more than 230 participants, on compost market development for farmers, and many resources and tools has been created to support this effort.
- Organized and hosted annual conferences and workshops, drawing participation from throughout the region.
NERC was originally established by the Council of State Governments - Eastern Regional Conference (CSG-ERC) in 1987 to:
- Address the growing concern about the millions of tons of municipal solid waste generated and disposed annually in the Northeast.
- Garner support for the diversion of recyclable materials from disposal.
- Assist with market development for the diverted recyclables.
NERC was an affiliate member of the CSG-ERC until 2000, at which time NERC became an independent non-profit organization. As an independent organization, NERC has been able to focus more directly on its core issues and to represent its mission on a regional and national basis. It has also allowed for expanded private sector involvement and multi-stakeholder dialogue.
NERC's Board of Directors represents state recycling and economic development agencies in the Northeast. Upon becoming independent from CSG-ERC, NERC amended its bylaws to allow Advisory Members to join as non-voting members, thereby giving interested businesses and associations the opportunity to participate in NERC. The result has been a broadened and strengthened organization. Currently, NERC has more than 50 organizations and companies participating as Advisory Members.
The synergy created by NERC's diverse membership and committed staff enables the organization to consider multiple perspectives on a given issue and undertake projects and activities that benefit the northeast and, in many cases, the entire country.