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November 2017

NERC’s Advisory Members

Distinguished Benefactors

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Sustaining Members

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

New & Renewing Memberships

New Sustaining Member

New Supporting Member

Renewing Supporting Members

NERC News

Newly  Posted

Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse News

State Updates

MASSACHUSETTS

Advisory Member News

Of General Interest

New & Renewing MembershipsMembership is key to NERC's regional and national commitment to sustainable materials management. We are delighted to welcome a new Sustaining Member - Glass Recycling Coalition, as well as a new Supporting Member - Solus Group. We also would like to thank renewing  Supporting Members: GreenPath Sustainability, MSW Consultants, the News Media Alliance, RSE USA, and the Southeastern Connecticut Regional Resource Recovery Authority (SCRRRA).

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

Walk-in Registration Available for NERC’s Fall Conference & 30th Anniversary Celebration

The online registration for NERC’s Fall Conference and 30th Anniversary will close on November 3rd.  If you miss this deadline, don't fret.  You can still register at the door with special walk-in rates. 

And if you haven’t seen the Agenda lately, check out the sessions being offered, speakers to be featured, and the schedule.  And, don't forget the special 30th anniversary celebration and awards ceremony.

We look forward to seeing you in Amherst, Massachusetts, November 13 - 14.

For more information about the Conference or 30th anniversary celebration, contact Mary Ann Remolador, NERC’s Assistant Director & Event Organizer.

New NERC Board Member from New York State

As you read last month there have been several transitions on the NERC Board, and another change has happened.  Peter Pettit, long-time Board member has stepped aside and Terri Laibach is the new Board member from New York. Terry Laibach

Terry Laibach works for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Division of Materials Management.  She is based in the Hudson Valley/Catskills region. Terry has a true passion for the top of the materials management hierarchy!   Her primarily responsibilities involve supporting other DEC regional offices in the state with waste reduction, reuse and recycling outreach.  Terry currently serves as DEC’s Regional Sustainability Team Leader, is Vice-Chair of the annual NY Solid Waste Federation’s Strive for Sustainability Conference, and previously served as a board member for both NYSAR3 and NY SWANA. 

NERC extends its appreciation to Peter for all of his support and involvement in the organization. 

NERC Awarded USDA Grant for Organics Management in Maryland

received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Utility Services Solid Waste Management Grant Program for “Implementing Food Waste, Organics, and Manure Management in Rural Maryland Communities.”

The purpose of the project is to reduce solid waste, avoid water pollution, and assist rural communities in improving their solid waste planning and management. This will be achieved by engaging stakeholders in two primarily rural counties in Maryland (Allegany and Cecil) to implement best management practices for food waste reduction, organics, and manure management. Through webinars and statewide promotion the project will benefit other regions of Maryland, the Northeast, and the country.

The project will engage a wide range of stakeholders, including citizens, students, business and non-profit representatives, town staff/transfer station employees, civic leaders and others through technical assistance and trainings that incorporate innovative techniques, such as citizen scientist recruitment. Supporting rural economies by identifying ways to reduce and manage food waste cost-effectively within the community, along with exploring opportunities for stimulating local economies by using and marketing compost products, is also included in the project.

Allegany County lies primarily in the Ridge-and-Valley Country of the Appalachian Mountains, in the western part of Maryland; the Potomac River defines its southern border. Cecil County, in the northeastern part of the state, is bordered by Susquehanna River and the northernmost coves, flats and tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay.

Through the project, NERC will work with the Counties, the Maryland Department of the Environment, and other project partners to:

  • Develop educational resources to support implementation of the Food Recovery Hierarchy, organics management, and manure management. Resources will be tailored for a range of potential stakeholders—households, schools, farms, organizations, institutions, and businesses.
  • Develop town/region/state specific best management practices resources for planning, implementing, and promoting food waste, organics, and/or manure management.
  • Provide regional training sessions that will serve to train a wide range of stakeholders about how to develop, implement, and promote effective food waste reduction, recovery, and/or composting; organics reduction and diversion; and, manure management and diversion programs.
  • Deliver onsite technical assistance in participant communities for implementing and/or expanding food waste reduction and recovery programs; household or community composting; organics reduction and diversion (including composting and compost use); and/or manure best management practices. The goal is to implement sustainable projects in at least five of the communities.
  • Deliver a national webinar presenting lessons learned and food scrap recovery hierarchy models for rural and small towns, including Maryland-based case studies and models for success. An additional national webinar will be organized to address rural manure best management practices.

For more information contact Athena Lee Bradley, Projects Manager.

NERC Becomes Glass Recycling Coalition Advisory Member

In September, NERC became recognized as an Advisory Member of the Glass Recycling Coalition (GRC).  GRC brings together stakeholders in the supply chain—“glass manufacturers, haulers, processors, materials recovery facilities, capital markets, end markets and brands that use glass to showcase their products to make glass recycling work.”

NERC anticipates its involvement with GRC will help to inform and share its work with NERC’s new Glass Subcommittee.  NERC’s Glass Subcommittee will be tasked with defining the primary glass recycling issues in the Northeast and identifying potential solutions. 

For more information about NERC’s work on glass, contact Mary Ann Remolador, NERC’s Assistant Director.

NERC Recognized as Green Business by State of Vermont

Energy efficient light bulbs and fixtures; water conserving toilets and sinks;  green cleaning products, office paper, and electronics, as well as remanufactured toner cartridges; and on-site recycling and organics collection programs are some of the criteria included in Vermont’s Green Business Program (VT GBP).

For the past five months, NERC pursued VT GBP membership by working with the landlord to make energy and water efficient changes to NERC’s work space. Staff also worked with the building cleaners to begin using green cleaners. NERC became certified as a VT GBP member in October 2017. 

The VT GBP began 17 years ago and continues to recognize businesses and non-profits for including environmental stewardship into their operations.  There are more than 225 VT GBP members, including: hotels, restaurants, groceries, golf courses, marinas, law offices, etc.

Also, NERC received a grant last year from the VT DEC to coordinate the VT GBP.  In this role, NERC conducts on-site walk-through assessments of the entities seeking VT GBP membership and provides direct technical assistance to the applicants.

For more information about the VT GBP, contact Mary Ann Remolador, VT Green Business Coordinator. 

Agenda Planning Committee Convened for Spring ’18 Recycling Markets Workshop

NERC has begun planning its Spring 2018 Workshop which will focus on recycling markets. An Agenda Planning Committee has been formed, and we would like to thank the following NERC Board & Advisory Members that have volunteered to serve:

Bob Cappadona

Casella Recycling

Sarah Reeves

Chittenden Solid Waste District, Vermont

Peter Engel

Kessler Consulting

Kaley Laleker

Maryland Department of the Environment

Chaz Miller

National Waste & Recycling Association

Peter Petit

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Bob Bylone

Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center

Dylan de Thomas

Recycling Partnership

Workshop Details

Theme:  Recycling Markets

Date: April 3, 2018 (NERC’s Board Meeting will be held the morning of April 4th.) 

Location: Sheraton Baltimore Washington Airport, Linthicum, Maryland 

For more information, contact Mary Ann Remolador.

Recent Conference Participation by NERC Staff

In the past few months, Lynn Rubinstein, NERC Executive Director has had active roles at several conferences:

  • Resource Recycling Conference - Facilitated panel on sustainable materials management and presented at Recycling Markets Town Hall
  • E-Scrap - Facilitated panel about flat panel device recycling
  • Nebraska Recycling Council Annual Workshop - Presented about a regional scheme for complying with state requirements, focusing on Bennington County, Vermont

For more information, contact Lynn Rubinstein.

Newly Posted

NERC's Fiscal Year 2017 Financial Documents Now Available

NERC has recently posted both its fiscal year 2017 audit and the federal form 990 for 2016.  For more information, contact Lynn Rubinstein.

Electronics recycling coordination clearinghouse News

ERCC Annual Meeting & Workshop

In September, the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse (ERCC) held its annual member meeting and pre-conference workshop during the E-Scrap Conference in Orlando, Florida on September 18th.  Over 40 ERCC members attended the meeting with additional members listening in online.  In the afternoon, ERCC held an open workshop with over 75 attendees entitled “Eco-Fees and CRTs: The Past and Possible Future of State Electronics Recycling Programs.”

During the member meeting, a variety of current and future projects were discussed. One major project that will take shape after the first of the year will be ERCC’s Jason Linnell ERCC workshopCompliance Calendar website. The vision for this site originally sprung from conversation among member states and affiliate members and is an attempt to house a comprehensive resource on requirements under the state electronics recycling laws for all industry stakeholders. Other major topics discussed included market share data for recycling responsibility, the importance of retailer outreach and engagement, and best practices for tracking and sharing data on state mandated recycling programs. The final topic features presentations by Sarah Murray of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Amanda Cotton of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on the use of data management software and other best practices. The members also heard an overview from Walter Alcorn of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) on the last data showing that a downward trend continuing of 28% of US households still using or storing at least one Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) TV in their home, and 17% of households with at least one CRT monitor.

The workshop on “Eco-Fees and CRTs” featured small group working sessions after two quick panel discussions to set up the major issues. Participants were assigned tables with a balance of stakeholder type represented at each (government, manufacturer, recycler, etc.). Each table was tasked with discussion questions such as: 1) what are the ERCC workshoppotential benefits and drawbacks of eco-fee approaches for the US?  2) What questions would need to be addressed for using them at the state and federal level? 3) Is this different for a state with or without laws? 4) What are best practices for tracking and overseeing recyclers who manage CRTs and CRT glass?  5) What new ideas might help all stakeholders in the future? 6) How can ERCC help to create best practices for tracking CRT glass? 7) What do we do when there is a problem? Some of the challenges communicated about eco-fees during the group discussions were deciding how the fees would be determined and who would collect them, how a recycler would be chosen and how we could ensure that devices are actually recycled. On the positive side, participants noted that eco-fees might be able to drive good environmental performance, could be a valuable educational tool, might drive down competition, would offer a potentially better auditing process, and might simplify compliance. On the topic of CRTs and CRT glass, most groups agreed that financial assurance and downstream tracking was a concern and required consistency. Some thought it was important that a facility could declare a maximum capacity, and felt that regular inspections to monitor capacity concerns should be built-in. The need for trained auditors and enforcement were also mentioned as keys to a more competent system. All in all, both the annual member meeting and the workshop experienced robust participation and provided multiple take-aways that will help ERCC with direction into 2018. Please contact Jason Linnell if you have any questions. You can also check out the ERCC website.

Photos Courtesy of E-Scrap 2017 and Brian Adams Photo.  

State UpdatesMASSACHUSETTS

MassDEP Awards $2.3 Million to Maximize Recycling, Composting & Waste Reduction Programs

The Baker-Polito Administration announced more than $2.3 million in Sustainable Materials Recovery Program (SMRP) grants to 238 municipalities and regional solid waste districts to help communities maximize their recycling, composting and waste reduction programs. The SMRP, which was created under the Green Communities Act and is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).

During the first round of 2017 SMRP funding, 185 communities qualified for the “Recycling Dividends Program” (RDP) and will receive payments ranging from $2,100 to $84,500, for a total of $2.25 million statewide. The RDP recognizes municipalities that have implemented policies and programs proven to maximize materials reuse and recycling, as well as waste reduction. Communities that earn RDP payments must reinvest the funds in their recycling programs for things such as new recycling bins or carts, public education and outreach campaigns, collection of hard-to-recycle items and the establishment of recycling programs in schools, municipal buildings and other public spaces.

As part of the SMRP, an additional 53 municipalities and regional entities that did not apply for or qualify for an RDP grant will be awarded a total of $53,750 for a “Small-Scale Initiatives Grant.” These population-based grants range from $500 to $2,000 each and help communities purchase modest, but critical recycling materials and outreach tools needed to sustain their existing recycling program or to facilitate new, low-cost initiatives.

The RDP was a new initiative rolled out in 2014 under MassDEP’s Sustainable Materials Recovery Program, which was created by the Green Communities Act of 2008. The Act requires that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Waste Energy Certificates (WECs) be directed to recycling programs approved by MassDEP. The SMRP initiative has provided more than $24 million in recycling programs since July of 2010.

The number of municipalities that qualified for the RDP increased nearly 10 percent over last year and the value of the awards also increased. In this round, seven municipalities will receive payments in excess of $50,000: New Bedford at $84,500; Cambridge and Springfield at $71,500 each; Worcester at $65,000; Lowell at $64,000; and Brockton and Lynn at $52,000 each. On the other end of the scale, Cheshire, Paxton and Shutesbury will receive $2,100 each.

A complete list of the 238 RDP and Small Scale grant awards can be viewed here. 

Advisory Member News

Recycling is a Big Deal to Keurig

Recycling is a big deal to us at Keurig Green Mountain and we are excited to launch our new hub for all things recycling! From our design journey to our commitment to collaborating with the recycling industry to keeping an eye on innovations in plastics recycling, we want you to come along on the journey with us!

2018 Connecticut Recycling Conference - Save The Date

Agenda Coming Soon!

Tuesday, January 17, 2018
8:00 AM - 4 PM

The Aqua Turf Club
555 Mulberry Street
Southington, CT 06479


The Connecticut Recyclers Coalition's Annual Recycling Conference brings together materials management industry leaders, regional, state and municipal officials to discuss how we achieve Connecticut's 60% recycling goal by 2024.

Sponsorship Opportunities Are Available
Contact Ray Collins at (203) 233-6670 or Julie Cammarata (203) 496-0997 or via email at ctrecyclers@gmail.com for more information.

Of General Interest

Pushing Back on China’s Recycling Mandates

The Green Fence came first. Launched by the Chinese government in 2013, the Green Fence was an initiative designed to ensure that bales of imported recyclables—in particular paper and plastics—contained those recyclables and no “garbage” or other materials. Just two months ago, the Chinese government has again attacked the same problem with a new policy called National Sword.

Since the announcement of this campaign, American recyclers have been pushing back. Some of our arguments are procedural, having to do with the very short notice of this new set of import restrictions, the lack of clarity about what recyclables the new rules cover and the need for internationally accepted standards for grades of recyclables. In addition, we have noted that requiring bales to have no more than 0.3 percent contaminants is an impossible standard. (Kudos to my colleague Anne Germain for writing NWRA’s comments.)

Clearly the Chinese government is concerned that garbage is being willfully sent to their country disguised as recyclables. An official of the Ministry of Environmental Protection told the press in July that “the problem of foreign garbage is loathed by everyone in China.” Press reports also indicate that a recent documentary, Plastic China, alleging the health and environmental harms of imported plastics for recycling, spurred Chinese officials to take action. How much real garbage was in bales of recyclables and how much was just run-of the-mill contaminants doesn’t matter. The Chinese government believes its country is being dumped on and they want to stop it.

We have good reason to be concerned. China imports about 30 percent of the paper collected for recycling in this country and at least an equivalent percentage of plastics. If this market were to shut down tomorrow, the result would not be pleasant for the American recycling industry.

But as a number of recyclers have pointed out, this sword cuts both ways. The Chinese government is anticipating a fast and strong increase in domestically generated paper and plastic. Yet they may have overestimated how quickly they can increase domestic supplies while underestimating the current recycling rate in China. Recent press reports have highlighted the negative impact of “surges” in prices for domestic recycled paper as import permits are reduced and local supplies are woefully short. This will lead to pressure from Chinese mills to allow quality bales of recyclable paper into the country.

In addition, American recycled fiber, especially OCC (old corrugated boxes), has a very good reputation for its long fibers. As a result, most industry analysts believe that imports of American OCC will continue to be accepted. While they may not meet the 99.97 percent purity requirement, they will come close enough to be allowed in.

Mixed paper presents a bigger problem. Twenty years ago, mixed paper was a low quality, low value orphan. Now, thanks to the rapid expansion of what we collect at the curbside, it is the perhaps the most important recycled paper grade for municipal programs. While we have domestic markets for this grade, their capacity is less than what we generate.

The good news is that the existing market (Pratt Recycling) was built with stock preparation systems designed for single stream generated mixed paper. The better news is that with the rise of e-commerce and the “browning” of mixed paper due to curbside-generated corrugated boxes, other mills now see mixed paper as a good fiber source and are planning their own stock preparation systems. The bad news is that this new capacity won’t go into operation overnight. As a result, expect a bumpy ride for mixed paper while we sort out what can be exported and increase domestic capacity.

As for plastics, especially mixed plastics, I have mixed news. The recent idling of the QRS processing facility in Baltimore shut down a major processor for this grade. Clean bales of PET and HDPE should be okay if they meet the purity requirement, mixed plastics will prove more challenging.

What can the recycling industry do to fix this problem? Processors who do a sloppy job need to clean up their act. Any MRF that is still dressing its paper bales (cutting off plastic bottles and other contaminants from the exterior of a bale) needs to come clean. Collectors and local governments need to step up on curbside enforcement. If you don’t collect crap you won’t have to process it out.

Most importantly, we need to rebuild the American paper industry. On Sept. 6, Graphics Paper announced the closing of its recycled paperboard mill in Santa Clara, Calif. According to the company, production would be shifted to lower cost Midwest and Southern mills. This is the 14th paper mill to close in California since 2000. Nine of them were recovered paper mills. We don’t create domestic markets when mills close.

What about the longer term? As I noted above, I’m not particularly worried about OCC. I am also optimistic, as are a number of industry analysts, that a grade of “clean” mixed paper will emerge with sufficient brown fiber and quality controls to be acceptable to Chinese authorities. After all, the modern Chinese paper mills were designed to take this grade of paper and they need it.

But I am worried that the Chinese government might consider recycling to be an inherently dirty business and that recycled paper and plastic are simply inferior in quality to virgin paper and plastic. If that is what the government means by “garbage,” we have a bigger problem on our hands. We must take the National Sword seriously. Process better, collect cleaner materials and, most importantly, rebuild the American recycling industry.

By Chaz Miller is director of policy/advocacy for the National Waste & Recycling Association in Washington, D.C. and an Ex Officio member of the NERC Board.