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May 2019

NERC’s Advisory Members

Distinguished Benefactors

Consumer Technology Association (CTA)

Panasonic

Samsung

Sustaining Members

  • American Chemistry Council

  • American Forest and Paper Association

  • Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR)

  • Bag To Earth

  • Casella Resource Solutions

  • Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England

  • Council of State Governments/Eastern Regional Conference

  • CURC

  • Dart Container

  • Glass Recycling Coalition

  • Good Point Recycling

  • Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI)

  • International Bottled Water Association

  • Interstate Refrigerant Recovery

  • Keep America Beautiful

  • Keurig Dr. Pepper

  • Marcal, A Soundview Paper Company

  • MRM

  • National Waste & Recycling Association

  • NEWMOA

  • Organix Solutions

  • PaintCare

  • Re-TRAC

  • Recycling Partnership

  • Republic Services

  • Schaefer Systems International, Inc.

  • Sims Municipal Recycling

  • Steel Recycling Institute

  • Strategic Materials

  • Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC)

  • TOMRA

  • US Composting Council (USCC)

  • Waste Management

A list of all the logos of our Sustaining Members can be found under Advisory Members

New & Renewing Memberships

Renewing Sustaining Member

New Supporting Members

Renewing Supporting Members

NERC News

Newly Posted

State Updates

MASSACHUSETTS

NEW YORK

Advisory Member News

Of General Interest

New & Renewing Memberships

Membership is key to NERC's regional and national commitment to sustainable materials management. We are pleased to welcome its two newest Supporting Members - Quantum Biopower and the Town of Somers, Connecticut.  We also thank renewing Sustaining Member Keurig Dr. Pepper, as well as renewing Supporting Members - the National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER), and Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority, New York.

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.

NERC News

Social Media & the NERC Message

A core priority for NERC has always been to bring together divergent voices, both mainstream and unique, from the waste and recycling communities. The goal of such networking is to “impact national dialogues and solutions to creating an environmentally sustainable economy.”

Traditionally, NERC has set the table for its inclusive and collaborative approach through its Advisory Member program and its twice-yearly conferences and/or workshops. Advisory Members, of course, enjoy year-round access to NERC’s expertise, and conference attendees benefit from the often surprising and always informative discussions that regularly take place.

With the incursion of social media platforms into every facet of contemporary society, NERC has joined untold numbers of organizations in deploying Facebook and Twitter to expand the reach of its messaging and bring new actors into its dialogues. In addition to posting and tweeting about NERC-specific news, its weekly blog posts, and Advisory Membership updates, NERC seeks out and relays news items and reports about developments in the recycling and sustainability spaces. At a time when the recycling industry is working to surmount challenges to its traditional models, the sharing of news and potential improvements seems especially relevant.

The widespread enthusiasm for this kind of information sharing can be gleaned from the steady growth in the sizes of NERC’s audiences on the Facebook and Twitter platforms. The Northeast Recycling Council page on Facebook regularly reports increases of page views, likes, and followers, and the number of total page followers is almost 800.

If anything, the growth of @NERecycling on Twitter has been even more impressive. Over about a two-year period, the number of followers has risen from fewer than 500 to over 1,800; the most recent 28-day period saw an increase of 35 followers, and the growth of profile visits and mentions was astronomical—195% and 300%, respectively.

None of the impressive numbers recounted here would mean much if they did not contribute to NERC’s mission of impactful dialogues on mutually important subjects. But based on the sheer number of followers, as well as the often passionate comments offered on items of importance to the waste and recycling communities, NERC believes the increases align with a resurgent commitment to the benefits to society that recycling and overall waste reduction bring.

For more information contact Robert Kropp.

Regional Recycling Markets Committee Update & Membership

In the fall of 2018, NERC in collaboration with NEWMOA, formed a Regional Recycling Markets Committee.  Membership is open to NERC and NEWMOA Board members as well as NERC Advisory Members.  It is chaired by Chaz Miller, Ex Officio member of the NERC Board. 

This vibrant committee is pursuing a number of projects to support and expand recycling markets in the NERC 11-state region.  Current activities include:

  • Update to the NERC Recycling Business Assistance Guide (anticipate publication in early summer)
  • Launch of a quarterly regional analysis of the value of recyclable materials from MRFs

Current committee membership is:

NERC Board Members & Designees

Sherill Baldwin

Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection

Rick Watson

Delaware Solid Waste Authority

Megan Pryor

Maine Department of Environmental Protection

David Mrgich

Maryland Department of the Environment

Brooke Nash

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

John Fischer

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Mike Nork

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Service

Terry Laibach

New York Department of Environmental Conservation

Jared Rhodes

Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation

Cathy Jamieson

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources

Chaz Miller

Ex Officio & Committee Chair

Chip Foley

Ex Officio

Advisory Members

Brian Hawkinson

AF&PA

Liz Bedard

APR

Al Sabino

Casella Waste Systems

Joanne Shafer

Centre County Recycling & Refuse Authority

Sarah Reeves

Chittenden Solid Waste District

Susan Bush

Circular Matters

Susan Collins

Container Recycling Institute

Rachel Kenyon

Fibre Box Association

Jen Heaton-Jones

HRRA

Victor Horton

Maine Resource Recycling Association (MRRA)

Jennifer Griffith

NEWMOA

Debra Darby

Organix Solutions

Bob Bylone

Pennsylvania Recycling Market Center

Resa Dimino

RRS

Dave Aldrich

SCRRRA

Trina Matta       

Sustainable Packaging Coalition

NERC Staff

Lynn Rubinstein, Committee staff

For more information Lynn Rubinstein.

Municipal Recycling Market Update

Recently, Lynn Rubinstein, NERC Executive Director, presented to the New England States Government Finance Officers Association about recycling markets and the impact on municipalities. The audience of more than 100 engaged in a lively debate and question and answer period about the importance of sustaining and retaining municipal recycling programs, what has been happening in the region, and how the impact from changes in recycling markets can be minimized through local action.  A copy of the PowerPoint presentation is available on the NERC website.

For more information Lynn Rubinstein.

Newly Posted

Increasing Use of Recycled Content in Road & Infrastructure Projects - Presentations

NERC recently held a workshop in collaboration with NEWMOA which focused on increasing the use of recycled content in road construction and infrastructure projects. The topics and presenters were: 

For more information, contact Lynn Rubinstein.

Summary of Announced Increased Capacity to Use Recycled Paper – Updated April 2019

Last fall NERC published a document chronicling national investment in paper recycling infrastructure. The list was produced by the NERC-NEWMOA Regional Recycling Markets Committee.  The Committee’s goal is to identify and implement strategies to promote and enhance recycling markets in the region.

With a new facility announcement, this resource has now been updated.

For further information, contact Lynn Rubinstein, NERC Executive Director or Chaz Miller, Chair of the NERC-NEWMOA Regional Recycling Markets Committee.

Best Practices for Solid Waste and Recycling Contracting Webinar Recording & Presentations Available

On April 4, NERC held the Best Practices for Solid Waste and Recycling Contracting webinar.  The idea for the webinar stemmed from the lively discussions held during the Trends in Contracting session at NERC’s Fall ’18 Conference. The continued interest in contracting was evident in the high attendance on the webinar—more than 500 people from 34 states. 

The webinar speakers included: Shar Habibi of In the Public Interest, Michael Timpane of RRS, and Lori Scozzafava of the Maryland Environmental Service (MES).  The topics presented by the speakers included:

  • Pitfalls being experienced,
  • Risk and reward,
  • Municipal control,
  • Good management,
  • Workforce stability,
  • Environmental protections,
  • Insuring fairness, and
  • Transparency in determining MRF fees and valuing each material cost on a per ton basis.

A webinar recording and the PowerPoint presentations are available for download from the NERC website:

If you have any questions about the webinar, contact Mary Ann Remolador.

New Glass Recycling Resource on NERC’s Website

As part of the work of NERC’s Glass Committee, NERC staff compiled information about States Departments of Transportations' use of post-consumer recycled glass in road applications.  The new resource, Northeast States' Departments of Transportation Use of Post-Consumer Recycled Glass Fact Sheet is now available on NERC’s website.

If you have any questions about the Fact Sheet or NERC’s Glass Committee, contact Mary Ann Remolador.

NERC Board of Directors Meeting Minutes

The minutes of the most recent NERC Board of Directors meeting is now available. For more information, contact Lynn Rubinstein.

State Updates

MASSACHUSETTS

MassDEP Announces Reduce, Reuse, Repair Micro-Grant

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) is pleased to announce the Reduce, Reuse, Repair Micro-Grant. This grant program provides small amounts of funding (up to $5,000) for eligible for-profit and non-profit organizations for innovative, short term waste reduction initiatives.  Initiatives must focus on promoting source reduction, reuse, or repair in Massachusetts; projects focused on recycling are not eligible for this grant. MassDEP hopes to foster grass-roots activities that benefit the environment and local economy by enhancing the value or extending the lifespan of materials that otherwise would end up in the trash.

To learn more about grant evaluation criteria, timelines, expectations, eligible use of grant funds, and example project ideas read the grant guidelines. Still have questions? Contact Erin Victor at erin.victor@mass.gov or 617-292-5624.

This is a competitive grant. Applications will be accepted, evaluated, and awarded on a rolling basis until all funds are obligated.

Sustainable Materials Recovery Program Municipal Grant Application

MassDEP’s next Sustainable Materials Recovery Program (SMRP) Municipal Grant Application has been available through Re-TRAC Connect ™ since Monday, April 1, 2019 and will be available for application submittals through June 12, 2019. The SMRP grant webpage has been updated with the new SMRP Grant Guidelines, links to the grant webinar, the grant workshop schedule and the reference copy of the grant application.  Visit the grant webpage for more information.

Last year, MassDEP awarded $5.2 million to 247 communities and regional entities through SMRP. The SMRP grant application provides funding in ten categories: mattress recycling incentive program, Pay-As-You-Throw start-up assistance, Education and Enforcement Coordinator, recycling and food waste collection carts, recycling drop-off containers, school recycling assistance, small-scale initiatives, organics capacity/waste reduction projects/ processed glass aggregate equipment, and the Recycling Dividends Program.

NEW YORK

Materials Management Legislation Passed with New York State’s 2019-20 Budget

With the passing of the 2019-20 budget, New York State gained two new environmental laws related to materials management!  One targets large generators of food scraps and the other bans single-use plastic carryout bags.

Organics Legislation

New York joins five other states that require large generators to divert food scraps from disposal. The other states are California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont. It will also encourage the development of additional infrastructure for organics recycling processing in the State.

Who?

Large generators of food scraps (more than two tons per week on average).

What?

Large generators of food scraps must:

  • Separate and donate edible food
  • Separate and recycle all remaining food scraps if within 25 miles of an organics recycler with the capacity to accept the material

When?

  • Effective January 1, 2022

What else?

  • Generators may petition the Department for a one-year waiver due to undue hardship.

NYSDEC shall:

  • Promulgate regulations
  • Publish educational materials and best management practices
  • Annually assess the capacity of each organics recycler and notify designated food scraps generators if they are required to comply
  • Report annually to the Governor on the overall efforts and results of the program

Exclusions:

  • Food scraps generators located in a city with a population of one million or more which has a local law, ordinance or regulation in place which requires the diversion of edible food and food scraps from disposal. (NYC)
  • Food scraps generators that have all their food scraps processed in a mixed solid waste composting or mixed solid waste anaerobic digestion facility.
  • Hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities
  • K-12 schools

For questions regarding the organics legislation please email: organicrecycling@dec.ny.gov

Plastic Bag Ban Legislation

New York State joins California and the counties of the State of Hawaii in banning the distribution of plastic bags.  Article 27 of New York State’s Environmental Conservation Law is amended to create a new Title 28 for the New York State Bag Waste Reduction Act. 

Who does the ban affect and when does it take effect?

The distribution of plastic carryout bags is prohibited by any person required to collect tax in NYS. The law takes effect March 1, 2020.

Exclusions to the plastic bag law include certain exempt bags. An exempt bag means a bag:

  • Used solely to contain or wrap uncooked meat, fish or poultry;
  • Used by a consumer solely to package bulk items such as fruits, vegetables, grains or candy;
  • Used solely to contain food sliced or prepared to order;
  • Used solely to contain a newspaper for delivery to a subscriber;
  • Bags sold in bulk to a consumer at the point of sale;
  • Trash bags;
  • Food storage bags;
  • Garment bags;
  • Bags prepackaged for sale to a customer;
  • Plastic carryout bags provided by a restaurant, tavern, or similar food service establishing, as defined in the state sanitary code, to carry out or deliver food; or
  • Bags provided by a pharmacy to carry prescription drugs.

What if I request a paper bag after March 1, 2020?

In municipalities that pass a local law in compliance with 27-2803, a 5-cent paper bag reduction fee will be charged for each paper bag given to a customer.  These fees will be reflected on the sales slip, invoice receipt or other statement of the price rendered to customers after March 1, 2020.  Any city or county acting within its local legislative body is authorized to adopt local laws to impose this fee.

Where does this money go?

Forty percent of the paper carryout reduction bag fee monies are given back to the counties or cities imposing this tax (with additional Tax and Finance conditions). These monies are to be expressly used for purchasing and distributing reusable bags, with priority given to low- and fixed-income communities.  The remaining funds will be deposited in the Environmental Protection Fund. 

Are there exemptions to the paper carryout bag fee?

The paper carryout bag fee does not apply to any customer using the supplemental nutritional assistance program, special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children, or any successor programs used as full or partial payments for the items purchased.  

What if I choose to use a reusable bag?

Consumers cannot be charged for using their own reusable bags. 

For questions regarding the plastic bag legislation please email: plasticbags@dec.ny.gov

Recycle Right NY Campaign Makes Strides with New Branding & Webpage

This April, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation(NYSDEC) in partnership with the statewide recycling education and outreach subcommittee launched a new webpage for the Recycle Right NY Campaign- a statewide effort to educate NY residents about contamination in household recycling bins.  In addition to the new webpage, the NYSDEC’s design team created custom graphics and branding for the campaign using input gathered from meetings with stakeholders. The first custom graphics are available for April’s theme, textiles, with the message that textiles are recyclable but not in your household recycling bin. Graphics include playful wording such as a shirt with the message “ Let’s roll up our sleeves and recycle right!” or a pair of shorts with the text “Just a short message- although recyclable, clothing and other textiles like towels and sheets do not belong in your household recycling.”

Since the launch of the campaign in January of 2019 the education subcommittee has grown dramatically to include members across NY State in the public and private sector including county and municipal recycling coordinators, facilities, haulers, and other waste and recycling associations and professionals.  The Recycle Right NY Campaign is designed around the concept of simple messaging, and working together to build strong, harmonized messaging across the state focusing on one item of concern or value for household recycling bins each month. The NYSDEC has worked with recycling stakeholders to make free resources available for use in educating residents about topics such as know your program, don’t be a wish-cycler, tanglers, cans, and textiles with more to come each month in 2019 with themes like keeping food out of recycling, addressing single-use plastics, plastic bags/ film plastic, batteries, sharps, non-container glass and more. In addition to each item, encouraging messaging about the viability of recycling will also be woven throughout the campaign.

To sign up to receive the resources for each month straight to your inbox sign up in the DEC Delivers box located on the right hand side of the Recycle Right NY Webpage. While you’re there,  check out the guidance document to learn about how to get started using the campaign resources to educate your residents or check out past resources from January- April.

For questions, comments, or more information about the Recycle Right NY campaign e-mail recycling@dec.ny.gov. 

Advisory Member News

Casella’s New Blog: The Resource Journal

Earlier this year, Casella began publishing a blog on their website. Topics have included “Building a sustainable approach to recycling,” “Batteries can cause deadly fires,” “An expanded bottle bill,” and “Four reasons landfills are needed.” We cross-post the content on our social media pages and have seen some positive feedback and engagement. We invite NERC members to bookmark that page and reach out to us with any feedback or suggestions for future topics.

Recycling to Manage Water

With the emergence of a new innovation, a ready supply of recycled mixed plastics, the growing need to manage surface and groundwater, and persistence, HydroBlox Technologies, Inc. of Pittsburgh was awarded the William M. Heenan Recycling Markets Development Award by the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center (RMC) for bringing a drainage management product made of recycled mixed plastics to Pennsylvania - HydroBlox. HydroBlox is being utilized for an ever-growing number of ground and surface water management applications, providing low cost and practical solutions that did not previously exist all the while using mixed plastics domestically.

HydroBlox provides solution to a significant recycling industry problem by finding a manufacturing option for mixed numbers (types) of plastic. "It can be challenging to find end uses without having to sort the plastics by number" said Robert Bylone, Jr., Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center. "HydroBlox makes use of the properties of mixing plastic types, which helps to create random void space variations in their product. In turn, this changes the rate and direction of water flow, diverting water and capturing it on-property," added Bylone.

The plastics placed at the curb or recycling depot have now become the number one supply to HydroBlox products. "HydroBlox product's is now offered by major retailers in the United States, including True Value and Ace Hardware," according to Edward Grieser, the CEO and founder of the business. "HydroBlox is also specified by major utilities and transportation systems, such as the Southeastern Transportation Authority (SEPTA)," Grieser added. Through the RMC, HydroBlox was able to first connect to SEPTA while an exhibitor at the 2018 Pennsylvania Recycling Industries Congress, sponsored and organized by the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center and the Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association (PWIA). RMC also contributed ideas to a conceptual design of the HydroBlox product which is used for stormwater management of roofline gutter flows.

The William M. Heenan, Jr. Recycling Markets Development Award is the only award of its type given annually in Pennsylvania, and is named in memory of William M. "Bill" Heenan, Jr. Heenan, a lifelong international ambassador of the recycling industry who was instrumental in supporting the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to initially vision and fund inception of the RMC.

For more information, please contact the RMC at 717.948.6660 or info@pennrmc.org.

New Consulting Firm Formed - Circular Matters

Circular Matters LLC is a consulting firm founded by Tim Buwalda, Susan Bush, and Betsy Dorn that provides consulting services to business, trade association, and government clients in developing circular economy and sustainable materials management solutions.  Contact information can be found here.

Of General Interest

Man Bites Dog: The Press and Recycling

Is recycling finished? You might think it is based on the onslaught of negative recycling stories in the American press. They paint a woeful picture or imply that most recyclables go to the local waste-to-energy facility, or even proclaim the end of recycling might be right around the corner. With all this relentless negativity, you can’t help but think recycling is doomed. 

This problem is worsened because, unfortunately, reporters don’t always get all the facts right. These stories commonly claim that China took the bulk of our recyclables and now they’ve said no to all of them. In fact, export markets, including the Chinese, never took the majority of our recyclables. Domestic markets did and still do.

Nor has the Chinese government banned them all. Yes, mixed paper and mixed plastics are banned. However, that government has made it clear it is happy to accept pulp made from recycled paper along with pellets and resin made from recycled plastics. It just wants the processing done elsewhere. Moreover, China continues to allow sizeable imports of clean old corrugated containers because they are a valuable feedstock for Chinese paper mills. These important points appear to be inconvenient nuances. 

Understandably, many recyclers are upset and disheartened over this coverage. I’m frustrated, but I understand that the press thrives on unexpected or bad news. An old journalism maxim says “dog bites man” isn’t news because it’s not unusual. “Man bites dog,” however, is news. After all, how often does that happen? Failing recycling programs are news. The thousands of curbside programs that continue to collect, process and sell recyclables are not. 

Part of the problem is simple. Most journalists are generalists. Very few specialize in the environment. Outside of the trade press, none have any expertise in recycling. Instead, when researching a new issue, such as recycling, they read what they find online. Early mistakes get repeated and magnified. After all, another journalist wrote it, so it has to be true. This explains the errors of fact about how much was shipped to China and what has been banned. Add to that the confirmation bias of looking for bad news and finding it and the result is inevitable. 

I’ve been dealing with the press ever since I started at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency several decades ago. I learned quickly that most reporters are just like you and me. They have a job to do and want to do it right. Just like you and I, they are not perfectly objective and have their own biases. Some may not like your industry or organization. Some might have already figured out what they intend to write and are looking to you for confirmation. But most just want to get the facts right and meet their deadline.

So, what do you do when the press calls? Help them. Return their calls quickly. Ask what their deadline is and get your answers to them before it. Know the most important points you want to convey and stay focused on those key messages. Give them accurate data and never lie. Feel free to disagree, but don’t get nasty. After all, the press buys ink and airtime by the barrel.

If a story upsets you, write a response. Keep it short. You have a better chance of getting printed if your response is fewer than 200 words (the first three paragraphs of this column). Stick to the facts. Don’t call the reporter an idiot. Be calm and make your case. If they decide to print your letter, newspapers will usually contact you before they print it. They often do minor editing and want your approval. They also may want proof of claims you made.

Over the years, I’ve had far more good experiences than bad with the press. Sometimes, they may have disregarded what I said. Sometimes, they may have included the key points I made. As long as they listened with an open mind, I’ve been happy with the encounter. I’ve run across a few obviously biased reporters and researchers. But those are relatively rare experiences. They do seem to be increasing, though, especially if plastics are involved. Something about plastic products seem to bring out the worst in some reporters. But even those instances are relatively rare.

Above all, treat the press with respect. When you do, they are more likely to call you back when they need more information.

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 chazmiller9@gmail.com.

Insights from the Polypropylene Roundtable at the NERC Spring Conference

These insights are provided by Jon T. Powell, Ph.D., Director - Special Projects, Closed Loop Partners.

Processor demand for PP and #3-7 plastic exceeds today’s supply. Major plastics processors in the US and Canada have demand that far outstrips domestic supply, leading some to source PP and #3-7 plastic bales abroad. 

Improving communication between the public, MRFs, and processors must occur immediately to overcome misinformation about the state of plastics recycling markets.  Recent media attention regarding the health or viability of plastics recycling markets has led many programs to cease or scale back acceptance of many types of plastics.  This condition runs counter to actual material transactions, hype around 'no plastics markets' means that many MRFs are no longer accepting PP. It is essential to counterbalance the rhetoric in the media with real information about markets. Buyers and industry must communicate to municipalities and MRFs that there are markets for this material.

There is a strong business case for some MRFs to separate PP out of the plastics 3-7 bale. Upfront capital investment is needed, but there is a clear ROI for MRFs to capture additional value from single stream recyclables.  Attendees agreed that tangible, widely-available decision-making tools can help MRFs understand when such an investment makes sense. In particular, understanding if larger MRFs taking 3-7 bales from smaller MRFs (a "hub and spoke model”) is replicable and a useful model for this ecosystem. Work by the Closed Loop Partners on these topics is ongoing, and results will be released in the summer of 2019.

Municipalities are well-positioned to help drive the PP recovery market. A suite of policy and procurement levers (standardized lists of accepted materials, diversion mandates, landfill bans, or green public procurement) can help to drive the PP and other plastics markets.