New Sustaining Member
Renewing Sustaining Members
New Supporting Member
Renewing Supporting Member
Membership is key to NERC's regional and national commitment to sustainable materials management. We are delighted to welcome our newest Sustaining Member Sims Municipal Recycling, as well as renewing Sustaining Members the Association of Plastic Recyclers and Good Point Recycling. In addition, we welcome our newest Supporting Member Oak Ridge Waste and Recycling, as well as renewing Supporting Member Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC).
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.
After more than a year of deliberation, the NERC Board has voted to amend the organization's vision and mission statements.
The refreshed vision statement is a world in which waste is minimized and natural resources are conserved.
In furtherance of this vision, its mission is now to minimize waste, conserve natural resources, and advance a sustainable economy through facilitated collaboration and action.
NERC's vision statement was last revised in 2016, and the mission statement in 2014. Although updated only a few years ago, the opportunities and critical priorities for the sustainability and recycling communities have shifted significantly. To ensure that NERC remains a leader and positioned to affect change, the Board determined it was essential to consider its position in these communities and reflect its intended contributions to ensure a world in which waste is minimized and natural resources are conserved.
“As a Board member of NERC, I am delighted by this adjustment in our vision and priorities,” said Kaley Laleker, Maryland Department of the Environment. “NERC is a unique organization that is strengthened by the regional collaboration between public and private organizations that it supports and encourages.”
“I have been a member of the NERC community for more than 30 years, originally as an Advisory Member and now as a Board member,” commented Chip Foley, formerly of the Steel Recycling Institute. “I am proud to see the impact that NERC has achieved over the years, and anticipate that the new vision and mission statements will enable continued success in sustainability, environmental integrity, and a healthy green economy.”
The phrases “back to basics” and “recycle light” are popping up throughout the recycling industry due to the disruption of global end markets, even though this thinking may be at odds with community diversion goals and consumer research regarding recycling expectations. Is it really time to pull back on the reins of recycling progress when we have opportunity in the U.S. to keep moving forward?
In the upcoming webinar hosted by NERC, we will hear about current research into the recycling of plastic films, bags, and pouches – flexible packaging that is mainly polyethylene plus other resins and trace materials. The webinar will also highlight a current pilot program at J.P. Mascaro & Sons’ MRF in Berks County, PA., that is testing a positive sort for a flexible plastic packaging material mix captured from single stream into a new rFlex product bale for end market uses.
J.P. Mascaro & Sons is responding to new data, customer demand, and the opportunity to partner with committed members of the value chain to pilot how large automated MRFs can adapt to sort the evolving ton of lighter weight packaging. Additional nimble regional players that have strong landfill diversion commitments and supportive regional economics are looking to convert a negative (contamination and residues) into a positive sort and continue moving recycling forward.
Join us for the Adding New Materials to Curbside Recycling: MRF Pilot Program for Films, Bags, and Pouches webinar on November 14 at 2:00pm ET. The webinar will feature researchers Susan Graff and Chris King from RRS, the consulting firm conducting the research program; presenting key findings from their MRF automated sorting research, and MRF owner J.P. Mascaro Sr. sharing his perspective on the importance of the pilot.
A record breaking attendance of more than 150 people from 24 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada discussed MRFs (Material Recovery Facilities) at the Northeast Recycling Council's Fall Conference in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.
Two days of sessions addressed the topics of MRF trends in the Northeast, building strong contracts for recycling services, examples of evolving contracts, safe MRF operations and emerging technology, the impact of e-commerce on MRFs, and tackling contamination issues.
Commissioner Rob Klee, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection made the opening remarks, addressing the economic pressures affecting MRFs and the efforts that industry and government have made in Connecticut to address these issues. Following Commissioner Klee, was the keynote panel with Bob Cappadona of Casella Recycling, LLC, Frank Chimera of Republic Services, and Susan Robinson of Waste Management highlighting key strategies for strengthening the economic position of MRFs.
Conference speakers included:
The Conference presentations will be posted in the Conference Archives section on NERC’s website by November 9th. For more information about the NERC’s events, contact Mary Ann Remolador, Assistant Director and Events Organizer.
NERC has begun organizing its Spring Workshop to be held on March 21st in Wilmington, Delaware. The Workshop will focus on building the demand for recyclables. More details about the workshop agenda will be available on NERC’s website.
Workshop contact: Mary Ann Remolador, Assistant Director and Events Organizer.
At the October National Recycling Coalition (NRC) Board meeting, Lynn Rubinstein, NERC's Executive Director, was elected to the NRC Board of Directors. She will be serving a three-year term.
The Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) has released the results of an 11-state survey about the glass recycling markets in the region. The Northeast MRF Glass Survey Report details information about residential glass collected for recycling and prepared for the marketplace by Material Recycling Facilities (MRFs) in the region. The Report provides important insights into the challenges that contribute to the quality and quantity of the region’s MRF glass.
The Northeast MRF Glass Survey Report is the result of a project initiated by NERC’s Glass Committee, formed in 2017. The Committee’s goal is to understand the recycled glass value chain and gaps in the Northeast, and to promote greater diversion of glass containers to the highest-value end uses.
The MRF survey results confirmed that the quality of material coming from the facilities as the primary problem with the marketability of the region’s residential glass stream. One of the key findings is the end destinations for the glass. Fifty four percent (54%) of the glass tonnage reported goes to glass processors; 38% to landfills for alternative daily cover, trash, and/or roadbase and fill; 5% for aggregate; 3% for roadbase aggregate; and less than 1% of the tonnage is used for other beneficial use or sent directly to a glass manufacturer.
Additional key findings are that 67% of the MRF respondents have not upgraded their facilities in the past three years, and 65% of the MRFs do no additional cleaning of glass at their facilities. From the perspective of the MRFs, the primary issues with recycled glass are wear and tear on equipment, lack of markets, contamination, and cost.
The survey also revealed that only six of the 45 respondents have a total percentage of non-glass residuals and fines of 10% or less. Of these, five facilities serve communities with either curbside separation of glass or dual stream recycling programs and/or have invested in equipment to separate the glass from other recyclables.
After a thorough analysis of the compiled survey data, consideration of drastic changes in New England’s glass markets, and global market shifts, NERC and its Glass Committee drew the following conclusions about the region’s MRF glass:
Forty-nine percent of the Northeast MRFs contacted by NERC responded to the survey. The survey results are a snapshot in time about the region’s MRF glass, and may or may not be representative of the entire region.
For more information about the Report, MRF survey, or NERC’s Glass Committee, contact Mary Ann Remolador, Assistant Director.
In addition to other environmental policies, NERC has a "green event policy" it follows when identifying venues for conferences and workshops. This policy is available on the NERC website: NERC Green Event Policy. For more information, contact Mary Ann Remolador, Assistant Director and Events Organizer.
As a 501(c)(3) organization, NERC is required to file an annual Form 990 with the IRS. The most recent form 990, for fiscal year 2018, is available on the NERC website. For more information, contact Lynn Rubinstein, NERC Executive Director.
In Massachusetts school renovations and demolitions often result in thousands of unwanted desks, tables, chairs, cabinets, and shelves ending up in our landfills and incinerators. Why? With tight project turnaround times and furniture that is often 10+ years old–throwing out these items seems like the fastest, cheapest, and easiest option. The key word being seems.
When running against the clock on a school renovation or demolition project -- deeming old school furniture as worthless and sending it to a landfill is an easy option. Most of it is junk, right? Well, it depends on who you ask. According to Emerson Lennon, Project and Account Executive of The Reuse Network (IRN), “K12 Furniture is solid gold. There is no excuse to let K12 furniture go to the landfill when so many schools overseas need these items.”
For example, one of the many schools overseas in need of school furniture is St. George’s College in Kingston, Jamaica. Due to a lack of funding for furniture, the college had many classrooms with broken chairs and desks, and other classrooms with almost no furniture at all. “Without the proper tools, teaching and learning become difficult,” said Anecia Creary, Maintenance Supervisor at St. George’s College.
Thankfully, the Berlin-Boylston Regional School District here in Massachusetts opted for reuse over disposal. Now, over 1,125 pieces of school furniture from the old Tahanto Middle/High School enrich the learning experience for students and teachers alike at St. George’s College.
Isn’t it cheaper to just throw it away?
Not always! Loading trailers and shipping furniture to organizations in need may result in a 40% savings over the cost of transporting unwanted school furniture to a local landfill. Believe it or not, the costs of dumpsters and hauling discarded furniture add up. Choosing reuse may also result in a quicker decommissioning of the project as well as cleaner and safer job site.
Would you like to see your school furniture reused, but worry that the process will be too time consuming to coordinate? It’s a common misconception that reusing and recycling school furniture will take longer than disposal since you will need to find multiple local outlets to sell or donate the furniture to. With a little planning, reusing your surplus school furniture can be quick and easy.
Know the Rules: M.G.L. c. 30B: With any project that involves unwanted furniture, fixtures and equipment -- it’s important to understand the rules that regulate a governmental body’s disposal of surplus supplies. Section 15 of Chapter 30B, The Uniform Procurement Act, outlines the process for the disposition of surplus supplies based on the resale or salvage value. If the estimated salvage or resale value of the surplus supply is less than $10,000, follow the written procedures adopted by your local governing body. If the estimated salvage or resale value is greater than $10,000, the furniture, fixtures or equipment need to be offered through competitive sealed bids, a public auction or established markets. Chapter 7 of the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) Chapter 30B Manual: Procuring Supplies, Services and Real Property offers guidance on the disposition of surplus supplies. Be sure to download it from the OIG website at www.mass.gov/ig.
Often surplus school furniture, fixtures, and equipment are over seven years old
and from a tax perspective have depreciated in value. Consult your local written procedures for how to dispose of these surplus supplies. You may need to get multiple quotes for scrap furniture disposal. Nine times out of ten, a vendor that specializes in reusing and recycling school furniture will provide the best quote. There is one furniture reuse option on the statewide contract: IRN: The Reuse Network (Solid Waste and Recycling Services on Statewide Contract FAC86) and several additional reuse vendors in the region that you may contact if your jurisdiction’s policy requires you to seek quotes for the disposition of surplus supplies with an estimated resale or salvage value under $10,000.
For schools with newer furniture and expensive equipment, surplus supplies with a resale or salvage value greater than $10,000 must be disposed of with a competitive sealed bid, the use of a public auction, or through established markets. See M.G.L. c. 30B, § 15. Your unwanted items will live a second life in another jurisdiction and you will generate money for your municipality. Any remaining furniture and equipment that cannot be placed through the competitive bid, auction, or established markets can then go through the same process with a reuse vendor outlined above.
Choosing to reuse and recycle unwanted school furniture, fixtures or equipment may help keep hundreds of thousands of tons of reusable material out of Massachusetts landfills, save your community money and provide much needed school furnishings for students across the world.
To learn more about responsible, cost-effective disposal of surplus furniture, join us on Wednesday, December 5th from 1-4pm for a free workshop at the Field Elementary School in Weston, MA. Register online. Spaces are limited so RSVP today! Can’t travel to Weston that day? No problem, you can also register for the Webinar version of the workshop.
For more information, contact: Erin Victor, Environmental Analyst, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Municipal Waste Reduction Branch, (617) 292-5624, email@example.com.
DEC is pleased to announce $1.2 million in funding to support municipal projects to reduce wasted food, donate wholesome food and recycle food scraps. The application period is now open! DEC will accept applications through March 1, 2019 3 p.m.
Read the full press release or visit the DEC website for additional information and instructions on how to apply through the NYS Grants Gateway. E-mail questions about the grant program to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEC is pleased to announce $800,000 in funding to support not-for-profit food pantries and other emergency food relief organizations to increase the amount of wholesome food available to those in need. The application period is now open! DEC will accept applications through February 1, 2019 3 p.m.
Read the full press release or visit the DEC website for additional information and how to apply through the NYS Grants Gateway. Any questions about the grant program may be directed to email@example.com.
Advisory Member News
Gary Winnie, Hazardous Waste Supervisor for the Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD), received the inaugural "Lewry Safety Award" at the national conference for the North American Hazardous Materials Management Association (NAHMMA), held on August 26 in Portland, ME.
The award was named for Bill Lewry, a household hazardous waste program
manager in Kansas City, MO who was badly injured from chemical exposure while on the job. The award highlights a person or program that embodies a culture of safety in the workplace, through either improvement, embracing the hierarchy of hazard controls, or being a personal advocate for safety training and awareness.
Winnie has been managing leftover paint, chemicals, and other hazardous waste from households and small businesses at the Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD) Environmental Depot in South Burlington since 1991. In his 27 years with the District, he has collected and managed over 11,000,000 pounds of hazardous waste, dropped off by over 250,000 residents and small businesses.
"Gary is an enormous asset to the community," says Jennifer Holliday, Director of Public Policy and Diversion Facilities for CSWD. "He is a leader in his field for managing hazardous waste, as well as a leader in the field for safety."
In addition to collecting and managing hazardous waste 5 days a week at the year-round Environmental Depot and the seasonal Rover – CSWD’s mobile hazardous waste collection unit – Winnie has helped lead a successful two-year state-wide school lab cleanout program, started a successful paint recycling and resale program, assisted the State of Vermont in writing hazardous waste regulations regarding household hazardous waste facilities, and provided hazardous waste collection events for other regions of the state.
“It’s not just about careful, responsible management of the wide variety of hazardous materials he sees every day,” says Sarah Reeves, Executive Director of CSWD. “Gary cares about the people around him, too. He embodies our strong commitment to both worker and environmental safety.”
Winnie has trained regional transfer station operators, other household hazardous waste program managers, and small businesses on proper handling of hazardous materials.
As Hazardous Waste Supervisor for CSWD, Gary oversees the year-round CSWD Environmental Depot in South Burlington, the mobile collection unit known as The Rover, and the District’s Local Color paint recycling program.
of general interest
Design for recycling sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? The idea that products and packages should be designed to be easily recyclable is often cited as a solution to what ails recycling. The logic seems simple. If products were designed with recycling in mind, materials recovery facilities (MRFs) would be more efficient, processing costs would go down and markets would be better.
Some groups have embraced this concept. The Association of Plastic Recyclers, for instance, has done extensive work to improve the recyclability of plastic packages. Its “Design Guide for Plastic Recyclability” is a treasure trove of information on avoiding recycling problems caused by features such as adhesives, labels and inks that can be added to a package. These features are often used to enhance marketability or to provide vital information to consumers, with no idea of their negative impact on recyclability. The guide, for instance, lists three colors that are preferred for PET recycling and several others that are detrimental. It’s hard to argue with the wisdom and effectiveness of this approach.
In fact, one of our most popular packages is unrecyclable. Flexible packaging, such as pouches, bags and other packages that gain their shape when they are filled, is surpassed only by corrugated boxes in the packaging market. Consumers love them because they are lightweight and easy to use and transport. Manufacturers also love them for the cost savings caused by their light weight, as well as the associated lower energy, storage and transportation costs.
Despite those environmental benefits, many recyclers and environmentalists don’t like flexible packaging (although I suspect their children use pouches and similar packages with glee). Yet, flexible packaging has a lower environmental footprint from upstream to downstream than its recyclable competitors. Flexible packaging has clearly reduced the amount of waste generated and sent to disposal (and recycling). Local governments, and you and I as taxpayers, benefit from this.
Designing for recycling is important, but companies may find more effective ways to reduce their environmental footprint. Starbucks recently announced its plan to design, build and operate 10,000 “greener stores” by 2025. I suspect these greener stores will have a far more positive impact on the environment than the company’s attempts to design more recyclable coffee cups.
Even if Starbucks designed a 100 percent recyclable cup, its customers would still have to recycle them. Look in the recycling bin at your local coffee house. It’s not a pretty picture. Customers may want to do the right thing, but mostly they are in a hurry. Any bin will do when you are in a rush. By concentrating on its physical property to lower its environmental footprint, Starbucks can focus on what it controls and achieve the most effective ways to reduce its environmental footprint.
I’ll drink to that when I have my next cold brew.
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.
According to the waste hierarchy, both waste reduction and reuse are sustainable options that are preferable to recycling, because the former go further in removing material from the waste stream in the first place. But while some operational processes are being redesigned to eliminate the byproduct of waste, the reality is that waste byproducts will remain, at least in the near future.
According to NERC Supporting Member New England Biosolids & Residuals Association (NEBRA), “Organic residuals…were once considered …too challenging to recycle.” Yet, in many instances, this is no longer the case. "Residuals," NEBRA states, “are organic ‘wastes’ that can be put to beneficial uses. They are sometimes called ‘by-products.’”
Residuals identified by NEBRA include wastewater generated at pulp and paper mills, and septage from home septic systems; wood ash from electricity generators that burn tree wood chips; food processing residuals, and pre- and post-consumer food scraps; and animal manures. “Most of these residuals can also be treated by anaerobic digestion before they are applied to soils,” NEBRA explains. “This generates biogas, a methane-rich renewable fuel.”
A significant residual are biosolids, defined by NEBRA as “the nutrient-rich organic byproducts resulting from wastewater treatment. Biosolids have been treated and tested and meet strict federal and state or provincial standards for use as fertilizers and soil amendments.”
“Biosolids provide plant nutrients and organic matter to soils,” NEBRA continues. “They can also be used to produce renewable energy through digestion and production of methane (‘biogas’) or by drying and thermal processing.”
While strategies like the recycling of residuals have evolved to make use of byproducts that were formerly considered waste, recycling in the United States is nowhere near a rate of diversion from landfills of 90%. Four waste management companies that are NERC Sustaining Advisory Members—Casella Resource Solutions, Republic Services, Sims Municipal Recycling, and Waste Management—have maintained strong commitments to making recycling successful, even in the currently challenging environment.
The three companies also operate landfills, and are likely to continue to do so for as long as the presence of landfills remain a necessary part of the waste management process. It turns out that landfills also create their own form of residual, which is called leachate. Waste Management defines leachate as “liquids that have come in contact with waste. Leachate accumulates in the waste footprint of the landfill.”
“Leachate levels within the landfill must be monitored and cannot exceed state regulatory agency established levels,” Waste Management explains. The company handles collected leachate in a number of ways, and one—re-circulating it back into the landfill to aid in the biodegradation of the waste—can be considered a sustainable solution.
Landfill leachate can also be used as feedstock in the anaerobic digestion process, where it is combined with other residuals in the creation of biogas, a renewable energy source.