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NERC Blog

Manufacturing with Recycled Materials

Ever wonder what happens to your recyclables? Many people don't realize the size and extent of the recycling marketplace. Some materials get shipped to other parts of the country or overseas to be processed further or incorporated into new products. However, much of what we divert for recycling in the Northeast stays right here in the Northeast. The New York Recycling Markets Database includes more than 230 facilities that use recovered materials to make products.

Recycling is indeed integral to our regional economy. Here are just a few examples:

Washington Mills Electro Minerals, Inc. in Niagara Falls, New York uses more than 24,000 pounds of recycled aluminum oxide each year to make new aluminum oxide products.

IceStone in Brooklyn, New York manufactures durable surfaces for countertops, bathroom vanities, conference tables, and wall and floor coverings using 100% recycled glass and concrete.

A-Turf, Inc. in Cheektowaga, New York builds athleticfieldsfor…

Disaster Preparedness and Clean-up

Due to the inevitability of Hurricane Sandy coming our way, it seems appropriate to keep this blog entry short and remind folks about NERC's document — "After the Disaster: A Guide for Residents and Small Businesses About Managing Debris Waste" — available for free download from the NERC website.

The document has pre-disaster tips for everything from brush clearing to toxic materials storage. The document also includes a wide range of clean-up information, including tips on drying out money, photos, appliances, and how to deal with mold.

Be safe!

Some Words from NERC's Founder

Shelley Dresser, NERC's founder and first Executive Director, continues our series of guest blogs by people who have been influential in NERC's 25 year history with some interesting notes on NERC's early history.

Here's what she says:

It is hard to imagine that NERC is 25 years old.

NERC was conceived at the Solid Waste Conference at the Penta Hotel in New York, during a conversation I had with Bernard Melewski, Counsel, NYS Commission on SolidWaste. As a garbage barge floated around NYC on a 112 day expedition, attempting to find a home for trash it was carrying, it became clear that a solution oriented approach to solid waste management was necessary. With Maurice Hinchey, a legislator from New York and the chairman of the Council of State Governments environment committee, I had all the support I needed to begin this endeavor.

NERC's name went…

Launching Innovation: Transforming Materials Management in CT

The CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) hosted a series of three Summits as part of their Solid Waste Management Plan and Climate Change Action Plan strategies. The idea for the events grew out of a Roundtable discussion which took place on January 18, 2012 with Northeast environmental and economic development commissioners. The Roundtable set the stage for exploring how 21st century waste management could unlock the value of the materials economy.

The last Summit was held on October 4, 2012 and focused on moving the "transformative materials management journey" from learning and ideas to action.

Presenters included:

  • Commissioner Daniel C. Esty
  • Geri Weiss, EPA New England
  • Kerrin O'Brien, Michigan Recycling Coalition
  • DEEP Deputy Commissioner Macky McCleary to share highlights on the Governor's Recycling Working Group findings
  • David T. Hudson, Strategic Materials, Inc.
  • Lynn Rubinstein, Northeast Recycling Council, Inc.
  • Kristin…

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 programs on a Conference panel.

Why National Standards for Recycling Professionals?

The growth in communities, programs, and businesses striving for sustainability has created a demand for qualified staff trained in recycling, sustainable…

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…