Renewing Sustaining Members
New Supporting Member
Renewing Supporting Members
Membership is key to NERC's regional and national commitment to sustainable materials management. We are pleased to welcome renewing Sustaining Members CSG/Eastern Regional Conference and Waste Management. We are delighted to welcome our newest Supporting Member - Fibre Box Association - as well as renewing Supporting Members the American Coatings Association, Centre County Recycling & Refuse Authority, Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority, Materials Innovation & Recycling Authority (MIRA), and RSE USA.
Thank you to all our Advisory Members. To see a complete listing of NERC's Members and Supporters, as well as the benefits of membership, visit the NERC Advisory Membership web page.
The broad spectrum of interests represented by NERC's Advisory Members, Individual Supporters, and Board Members and their willingness to participate significantly contribute to the unique and important role that NERC plays in recycling in the region.
For more information, contact Lynn Rubinstein, Executive Director.
When chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were invented about a century ago, they were seen as safe alternatives to sulfur dioxide and ammonia, the refrigerants most widely used at the time. However, by the 1970s, scientists discovered that CFCs were an environmental hazard, as they contributed to the breakdown in the ozone layer of earth’s atmosphere. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in its landmark Clean Air Act, included the regulation of CFCs in Title VI among its directives.
Earlier this year, NASA concluded that ozone depletion during the Antarctic winter has indeed decreased by 20 percent since 2005.
With its corporate headquarters located in Foxboro MA, Interstate Refrigerant Recovery, Inc. (IRRI)—NERC’s newest Sustaining Advisory Member—is well positioned to provide its state of the art on-site refrigerant recovery services throughout the Northeast. IRRI’s, family and employee-owned company service(s) over 500 towns and communities. They handle recycling the refrigerant from appliances dropped off at the transfer stations in nine states .In addition to municipalities their book of business includes construction & demolition companies on a regular basis, and contracts with major corporations and the military as well. The company has been in business since 1995.
During the refrigerant recovery process, it is mandated by EPA that no more than a microscopic amount of CFCs escape. Certified and compliant with all EPA and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines, IRRI also provides the documentation necessary to assure that recovery has been properly completed.
With so many of the boxes of sustainable materials management successfully checked—from human health to the environment to product recovery and reuse—it seems most fitting that IRRI has joined NERC as an Advisory Member. “We work a lot with MRFs (materials recovery facilities) to recover refrigerant from appliances, so it seemed worthwhile to sign on as a sponsor of NERC’s Fall 2018 Conference,” said Tim Maloof, Vice President of IRRI. “When I witnessed the expertise gathered there, both from presenters and those in the audience, I knew that becoming an Advisory Member would benefit us.”
At the NERC spring 2018 workshop we focused on the supply side of recycling markets. This fall we focused on the MRFs that ready recyclables for the marketplace. And, at the upcoming Spring 2019 Conference, we’re going to address closing the recycling loop by building the demand for mixed paper, mixed plastics, and glass. On March 20 – 21 in Wilmington, Delaware, NERC will hold its Building Better Recycling Markets Conference.
The Conference sessions include:
Sponsor & Exhibitor Opportunities Available
For more information about the Conference, contact Mary Ann Remolador, Assistant Director & Events Organizer.
A compilation of resources about recycling of construction and demolition (C&D) materials has been posted on the NERC website.
Minutes from the most recent NERC Board of Directors meeting are now available.
The Baker-Polito Administration has announced that more than 50,000 old mattresses and box springs have now been recycled as part of the Mattress Recycling Incentive (MRI), a grant program operated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). The MRI provides funding to Massachusetts cities and towns to aid in the collection, transportation and recycling of these difficult-to-manage materials.
“Recycling mattresses and box springs keeps these bulky items out of landfills and incinerators and can save communities significant money in disposal costs,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The grants awarded through our Mattress Recycling Incentive also help communities better protect the environment and help the Commonwealth meet our recycling and solid waste reduction goals, so the Baker-Polito Administration is proud to mark this important recycling milestone.”
To date, 43 municipalities have implemented mattress and box spring recycling programs through this grant, which pays for up to two years of transportation and recycling costs through one of the three state-contracted mattress recycling vendors: Raw Material Recovery Corp. in Gardner; United Teen Equality Center in Lowell; and Ace Mattress Enterprises in West Warwick, R.I. Additionally, the grant covers the cost of a collection container that grantees will use to sustain the recycling program after the term of the grant.
Approximately 85 percent of each mattress and box spring can be diverted from disposal. Recycling the wood, metal, foam and fabric components from mattresses allows for the materials to be made into a number of new products, such as carpet padding, particle board, and industrial filters. In addition to the environmental and financial benefits of the program, the MRI contributes to the development of a regional recycling economy.
“The Mattress Recycling Incentive program reflects our commitment to solid waste diversion, local recycling market development and economic growth in Massachusetts,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “We are pleased to offer this assistance to municipalities, to support them in diverting these difficult-to-recycle materials while simultaneously supporting a developing market.”
The mattress incentive program supports MassDEP’s long-term goal of making mattress recycling services more widely available and cost-effective. The participating recycling vendors have been able to expand their operations, increasing volumes and purchasing new equipment.
“We have been able to expand our recycling operation, make infrastructure investments, and hire new employees as a result of the volume of material provided by these municipalities,” said Raw Material Recovery Corp. CEO Dick Peloquin.
The MRI program aims to promote sustainable recycling programs, such as the one in the Town of Sherborn. “Participation in our mattress recycling program has increased since we applied for the program,” said Charles Tyler of the Sherborn Recycling Committee. “The MRI program allowed us to accept mattresses for free and it’s developed into a wonderful program and relationship with our recycler. There’s no way we would discontinue this program when the grant ends; we’ll definitely keep recycling mattresses.”
The Baker-Polito Administration recently announced additional funding under the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program, which included up to $653,294 in grants to help pay for the recycling of mattresses and box springs in 21 additional communities.
More information about mattress recycling can be found on the MassDEP website. Municipalities interested in implementing mattress recycling programs are invited to apply in the next grant cycle, which will open in April 2019. Inquiries about applying for the Mattress Recycling Incentive grant program may be directed to Lydia Meintel-Wade.
In celebration of American Recycles Day, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded more than $2.1 million in Sustainable Materials Recovery Program (SMRP) grants to 42 communities and regional groups to help increase the diversion, reuse, composting and recycling of materials in the solid waste stream.
“Our administration is committed to ensuring the Commonwealth’s municipalities have access to the resources necessary to promote and encourage recycling amongst residents and businesses,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The funds awarded under the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program will aid cities and towns across the state in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve natural resources, save money, and support jobs.”
“Communities are critical partners in promoting residential and commercial recycling efforts,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Through the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program, our administration will continue to invest in recycling efforts that support local municipalities, grow the economy and improve the Commonwealth’s sustainability.”
During the second round of 2018 SMRP funding, 42 communities and groups will receive grants ranging from $5,500 to $197,000 for a total of $2,128,969 statewide. Funds have been awarded in several categories, including start-up incentives for Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) programs, wheeled-carts for curbside collection of recyclables and kitchen food waste for composting, large containers for collection of target materials at municipal transfer stations, school recycling assistance programs and innovative waste reduction projects.
“Waste reduction improves the health of our communities, and positions the Commonwealth to meet its aggressive goal of reducing the waste stream by 50 percent by 2020,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “By partnering with cities and towns across Massachusetts to encourage recycling, the Commonwealth will continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create renewable energy, and stimulate the economy.”
The SMRP grant program was created under the Green Communities Act and is administered by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). Waste prevention and recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions by capturing the embodied energy in every-day product and packaging waste, and converting these sources into new products with a smaller carbon footprint.
“The ‘waste stream’ actually contains a significant amount of valuable materials that can be used to produce new materials,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “These grants allow us to partner with local groups and communities to collect and repurpose these useable materials, which will make a difference in the protection of our natural resources and the public health.”
“I’m proud to represent communities that are dedicated to combating the destructive impacts of climate change,” said State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton). “Increasing our recycling and waste reduction programs is critical to our environmental protection efforts, and I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for awarding this important grant to Hudson.”
“I am thrilled that Uxbridge has received two MassDEP grants, which work towards sustainability,” said State Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Webster). “I am grateful for their work, the help of the administration and local officials, and the support of our state delegation in obtaining these funds.”
“For decades, recycling has been a priority in the fight against climate change, and Massachusetts has set ambitious goals to improve waste management,” said State Senator Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow). “This innovative Pay-As-You-Throw program will help Longmeadow residents make a greater impact with more streamlined recycling and composting. Not only does recycling make a difference for our environment and community health, but it also supports a growing industry in reclaiming old products that can continue to be reused.”
“The Town of Milton has made great strides in promoting recycling and with this grant, Milton will be able to provide even more residents with the resources they need to recycle at home,” said State Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton). “I would like to thank Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito, and the entire Baker-Polito Administration for awarding Milton this grant.”
“I’m pleased that the Town of Milton took advantage of these funds. This is a good use of the money, as it not only provides people with more functional equipment, it also encourages better recycling habits,” said State Representative William Driscoll (D-Milton).
“This grant from MassDEP will enable the Town of Hudson to invest in programs that make recycling cost-effective, convenient – and transformative for our local communities,” said State Representative Kate Hogan (D-Stow). “When state programs support local recycling initiatives, the message is clear: we are united by the value of our actions, as individuals, as a community, and as a Commonwealth. We can and will make recycling a part of our daily lives.”
“I am excited to see the implementation of Newburyport's pilot program,” said State Representative James Kelcourse (R-Newburyport). “The program will not only be cost-effective, but also presents a great opportunity to educate the community the importance of reuse.”
An alphabetical list of the municipalities and regional groups that have been awarded a grant, as well as more information about the SMRP program, can be seen here.
During the first round of SMRP funding announced in August, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded more than $2.6 million in Recycling Dividends Program grants to 247 communities and solid waste districts to help pay for new recycling bins and carts, public education and outreach, collection of difficult-to-recycle items, and implement recycling programs in municipal buildings, schools and public spaces.
To protect worker safety and improve the value of recyclables, Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources has launched a campaign to reduce recycling contamination. The Agency worked with Chittenden Solid Waste District and Casella Waste Systems to identify the top four contaminants at their recycling facilities and created advertisements to let people know these items don’t belong in blue recycling bins: plastic bags, batteries and electronics, food-contaminated recyclables, and scrap metal.
“We want Vermonters to know that when their recyclables arrive at the facilities, workers need to sort it. When the wrong things end up in the recycling bin, it makes the sorting gross or dangerous. Plastic bags, and other tanglers like rope, get caught in the rotors and cause the machines to stop or break down. Then someone has to climb in and cut them out,” says Cathy Jamieson, Solid Waste Program Manager with the Department of Environmental Conservation. “And that half-full bottle of soda will spill onto the paper and cardboard, ruining the chance for them to be recycled into new paper products.”
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources reminds Vermonters to recycle only clean and empty containers, jugs, bottles and cans and dry paper and cardboard. Here are other recycling tips:
Of general interest
Thanksgiving Day began centuries ago as a harvest festival. So, it was perhaps appropriate that my wife and I were helping friends harvest their pecan crop on Thanksgiving Day. Our dinner would have to wait because pecans don’t take a day off when they are ready for market.
Pecan harvesting is relatively simple. First, the nuts are mechanically shaken out of a tree. Then, a harvester circles the tree, scooping up the nuts. That machine can collect about 90 percent of the nuts on the ground. But why waste the rest? We followed the harvester with “rollers.” These devices have a long pole with an oblong flexible wire cage at the bottom. The rolling cage scoops up the pecans that the harvester missed. If we were being paid, the nuts we rolled up would have been the most expensive to collect, but their value would still have offset the cost. Why leave money on the ground?
The nuts are then processed in a cleaning machine that separates out undersized nuts along with contaminants, such as leaves, dirt and twigs. The nuts then fall onto a conveyor belt, where my wife and I were the 10-fingered pickers assigned to quality control. We were looking for cracked or flawed nuts that couldn’t be sold or were the wrong variety (e.g., Elliott instead of Cape Fear). The nuts that came off the end of the belt will be sold. The cracked nuts could be further sorted, the good ones shelled and eaten.
I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between pecans and recyclables. Both are commodities with fluctuating values, and both need to be processed to create a product an end market will buy. As it turns out, both are often sold to China’s end markets. Pecans haven’t been banned from China. But, like old corrugated containers, they are the victims of tariffs imposed as a result of our trade wars. Just like recyclables, their markets are a bit roiled at the moment.
As I was rolling pecans, I was also thinking about food waste. In a perfect, zero waste world, the pecan grove would have no wasted nuts. Instead, perfectly shaped, edible nuts would fall out of a tree, easily collected and processed. Best of all, just enough would fall to meet market demand.
Unfortunately, reality is messy. The weather doesn’t always cooperate and help produce a good crop. Not all the pecans that fall from the tree are edible. Worst of all, some years the supply of pecans exceeds market demand, so not all will be harvested.
In terms of food waste, those uncollected pecans and inedible nuts are a relatively small problem. Local governments don’t worry about agricultural products left on the ground due to insufficient demand. But what about the pecans people throw away because they let them go bad or decide they didn’t want them after all? Local governments increasingly worry about managing the food waste their residents and businesses throw away. As we get better at recycling, food waste is an increasingly larger portion of the waste stream. In fact, we now landfill more food waste than packaging.
Managing food waste is also more complicated than managing the dryer, less smelly parts of the waste stream. We can reduce food waste with better date labeling. Grocers and restaurants can also improve inventory control and generate less food waste. Those efforts will go a long way toward lowering the amount of food waste we generate.
But getting people to separate out food waste and either compost it at home or set it out separately for curbside collection will be difficult. The behavior change required for recycling right pales when compared to that for handling food waste right. So do the challenges to site and building the infrastructure needed to turn all of our food waste into energy or other products. Food waste remains an immense and intense barrier to zero waste.
None of that was on my mind as we celebrated our Thanksgiving dinner that night. Our daughter had prepared an apple pecan pie for dessert. The pecans were all seconds she had culled and shelled. The pie was delicious.
Chaz Miller is a longtime veteran of the waste and recycling industry and a member of the NERC Board of Directors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has released a new critical meta-analysis of packaging materials asking the basic question: ‘Do popular packaging attributes including recycled and biobased content, recyclability and compostability correlate with lower environmental impacts?’
This research reviewed publically available life cycle assessment (LCA) studies from 2000 - 2017. The significance of this research is that at present these attributes are used as a simplified means of making “sustainable” or “green” choices for institutional and individual purchasing decisions, for marketing and brand promotion, for design guidance, and for policy recommendations for end of life materials management.
In general terms, the findings are not as straightforward as commonly believed, and in many cases the well-intentioned effort of individuals, institutions and policy may be leading to increased environmental burdens. Many of the results run contrary to popular wisdom and even the policy directions that are increasingly promoted and promulgated by national and subnational governments.
The technical paper and four summary reports are available for download.
A series of webinars is being offered to facilitate discussion. Register here.
AMERIPEN and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation have issued a report, “Unwrapping Ambitious Packaging Commitments in the U.S." highlighting opportunities and challenges in pursuit of 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging goals. The report summarizes insights by more than 20 thought leaders from across the U.S. packaging value chain who came together to discuss how to navigate the ever changing packaging landscape and harness innovation and scale to achieve lasting improvements.
The September 2018 discussion, sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and AMERIPEN, explored what will be needed to help brands, retailers and others seeking to achieve circular packaging goals. Specific topics addressed during the Salon included contamination, emerging trends such as ecommerce packaging and food waste prevention, consumer access and behavior towards recycling, as well as metrics and data to assess performance.
Both parties will now work independently to leverage the report insights in order to help advance the national dialogue on packaging and recovery. AMERIPEN will continue the dialogue around needs and opportunities in 2019 with the intention of advancing a collaborative-stakeholder vision for a made-in-the-U.S. strategy. A series of events throughout the year have been developed to explore the intersection of packaging with recovery, design, product protection and external environmental impacts, such as marine debris.
“On America Recycles Day, AMERIPEN, along with many of our peers, pledged to work collaboratively to improve domestic recycling.” Scott Byrne, AMERIPEN Board member and Circular Economy Expert with TetraPak notes, “These dialogues have been designed to help explore opportunities, emerging trends and unintended consequences in order to develop an action plan that addresses our unique regulatory environment, the value of packaging and the best approaches to leveraging environmental and economic opportunities for Americans.”
AMERIPEN sees this shift towards a circular packaging system as a positive opportunity to leverage packaging design and collection systems to best manage materials for continued beneficial use in the economy. The association cautions however that this vision must also include recognition of the value and purpose of packaging in providing product protection. The report is available for download.
EFS-plastics converts post-consumer plastics into resin pellets. Since 2007, EFS has recycled over 150,000 tons of plastic at its facilities in Ontario and Pennsylvania. It primarily focuses on recycling mixed rigid plastic (#3 - 7) and plastic film. Due to the oversupply of plastic film in the marketplace, it is only accepting film from MRFs who are also providing it with mixed rigid plastics. A spec sheet and brochure are available upon request. For more information contact Eadaoin Quinn, EFS-plastics, Director of Business Development & Procurement, 519-418-3377 ext. 107.