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America’s Most Recycled Material

The Steel Recycling Institute knows all about steel. It acts as an informational and technical resource for steel recycling and the life cycle impact and sustainability of steel products, including containers, construction, and automotive. SRI provides a wealth of information for the solid waste industry, government, businesses, and the steel product consumer. Be sure to check out SRI's website, it contains a lot of recycling resources.

A lot of people don't know that steel is North America's most recycled material. More steel is recycled annually than paper, plastic, aluminum, glass and copper combined. Steel scrap is an essential raw material in making new steel.

SRI is a long time NERC Advisory Member and provides funding for NERC's Blog and social marketing project, as well as NERC Conferences.

National Standards Certifications Board Update

In February 2012, a National Standards Certification Board convened to oversee governance and implementation of the Recycling Organizations of North America(RONA) "Plan for National Standards for Certifying Sustainable Resource Management Training Programs and Professionals (the Plan)." The process was initiated by RONA and the California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA), who collaborated on a federally-funded project to develop new resource management curriculum and a certification process.

Nine candidates were selected to serve on the NSC Board, including NERC staff, Athena Lee Bradley. The Board holds monthly conference calls and met at the recent Resource Recycling Conference in Austin. Board members also invited Conference attendees to an informational luncheon; additionally, Board chair, John Frederick, spoke about the national standard for professional certification…

Garlic & Arts - A Zero-Waste Event

It's that time of year again when several solid waste professionals in the Southern Vermont/Western Massachusetts area volunteer at a zero waste event.

The North Quabbin Garlic & Arts Festival, held the last weekend in September, has been a zero waste event for six years. The all-volunteer coordinating committee made a commitment to recycle at its event inception 14 years ago. Some 10,000 people converge on a small farming community in the outskirts of Orange, Massachusetts to enjoy local entertainment, a variety of foods (with lots of garlic!), hundreds of booths (from artists to farm products), workshops, a family stage, and more.

I began volunteering at the event eight years ago. Event organizers decided to implement compost collection and they were looking for a coordinator. Resourceful event volunteers built low cost wooden "green stations" for recycling, compost, and trash collection. These functional and inexpensive bins have changed over the years as we learned how best to "educate" participants. Five stations are set up around the event—three in the food vendor area and two in…

Another Trash Travelogue

While traveling recently in Glacier National Park, Lynn Rubinstein, NERC Executive Director, came across this display of bear damage to park trash cans.

I guess the bear tossing my compost bin isn't so bad after all!

Voices from NERC's Past

Jeff Bednar, former NERC Board Member and Board President representing Pennsylvania, continues our series of guest blogs by people who have been influential in NERC's 25 year history.

Here's what he has to say:

My introduction to NERC came many moons ago as a new program analyst at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. I was asked to accompany the Pennsylvania representative to a meeting and provide an update on some sustainability endeavors undertaken by the department. As a recycling neophyte, I was practically crushed by the sheer volume of knowledge, intellect and recycling industry acumen that this collective of professionals possessed.

Jeff with Mary Ann,
NERC's Assistant Director

Strange, unfamiliar terms such as "single stream" "product stewardship"…

Thoughts by Ed Boisson, former NERC Executive Director

Happy birthday to the Northeast Recycling Council!

I first became involved with NERC in summer 1994, while I was a recycling market development manager with the California Integrated Waste Management Board. After seeing an ad for the Executive Director position, I pondered my options. Of course I was familiar with NERC's pioneering work negotiating voluntary agreements with newspaper publishers and other industry engagement efforts. And after meeting the staff and members, and discovering that Brattleboro was a great place to live, I pursued the job and soon found myself driving cross country to Vermont.

From Legislative Orientation to Markets

At the time, NERC was transitioning from a legislative orientation to a market development orientation. A recession was deepening, and the mantra then as now became jobs, jobs and jobs. Along with staffers Michael Alexander, Ellen Pratt, Mary Ann Remolador and Rebecca Bartlett, and the Executive Leadership Team of Jeff Lissack (MA) and Janet Matthews (NY), and later Guy Watson (NJ) and Randy Coburn (NY), NERC pursued directions we hadn't conceived of previously. We teamed with regional investment…

The Recycling Trifecta

Occasionally in NERC's blog, I am showcasing companies in the Northeast that use recycled materials in the manufacturing of new products. Today's entry connects three companies – Red Hook Brewery, Poly Recovery, and Foss Manufacturing.

Poly Recovery's propriety process turns plastic waste
into resins for use in new products.

"The Recycling Trifecta" is a video which shows how Poly Recovery, a full service recycling company located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, worked with Redhook's Portsmouth Brewery to find markets for its plastic waste—including green PET packaging strap used to hold boxes of bottles. The recovered plastic is turned into fiber by Foss Manufacturing to…


One of the easiest and overlooked strategies for decreasing waste and increasing recycling at work is to focus on paper. There are many strategies that can be used to reduce the amount of paper used, and to capture the unavoidable wasted paper for recycling. Following are a few examples:

Tips for Paper Use Reduction & Reuse

  • Single space documents and use narrower margins whenever possible.
  • Print and copy files on two sides.
  • Reuse single-sided copies as scratch paper or for drafts of other documents.
  • Reuse file folders and envelopes.
  • If you only need a small amount of information from an email or website, write it down instead of printing it out.
  • Share files electronically instead of printing hard copies.
  • Post announcements in central locations.


Tips for Recycling More Paper

  • Place recycling bins near each printer and copier.
  • Place a recycling bin at each desk.
  • Include the company's recycling goals in orientation packets for new staff.
  • Remind…

Ongoing Reflections....

Sharon Yergeau, with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, continues our series of guest blogs by people who have been influential in NERC's 25 year history.

History with NERC

The NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) established the Planning & Community Assistance Section around 1990. The legislative charge was to "develop and implement a program of technical assistance and cooperation with municipalities and solid waste districts." The 5-person section, including a Recycling Coordinator, was assigned to my bureau, which already included P2 and hazardous waste tracking. Mark Lennon (now of IRN) started in 1992 as our Recycling Coordinator and before too long, was fully engaged in NERC activities. Mark continued his involvement when he was promoted to the supervisor of the section. When Mark left in 1996, the new supervisor (Christopher Way) threw himself into NERC activities. In 2004, when Chris' job was eliminated and he was assigned to another program, I was "it." When my own position was moved to the Commissioner's Office two…

C&D Trainings in Puerto Rico

Diverting construction and demolition waste to reuse and recycling is an important topic in the U.S. and on the island of Puerto Rico. NERC is organizing two training C&D reuse and recycling trainings in Puerto Rico (one in Guaynabo and the other in Ponce) to be held on October 17 & 18.  The brochures and email flyers for the trainings are now available in English and Spanish at

Submitted by: Mary Ann Remolador, NERC's Assistant Director