Renewing Sustaining Members
Renewing Supporting Members
Membership is key to NERC's regional and national commitment to sustainable materials management.renewing Sustaining Members the American Chemistry Council (ACC), and The Recycling Partnership. We would also like to thank renewing Supporting Members The Carton Council and the Connecticut Recyclers Coalition (CRC).
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’s Conferences have gained a reputation for providing government and industry the opportunity to have constructive discussions about recycling’s most pertinent and timely issues. In addition to offering presentations and panels with some of the most reputable professionals in the field, NERC events offer time for networking with colleagues from the Northeast, around the country, and Canada; a variety of exhibitors displaying their products and services; and a social and awards ceremony for more mingling time.
The Fall Conference—Much Ado About Plastics—will be held on October 29 – 30 at the Graduate Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island. As the title implies, we will be talking about all topics related to plastics recycling at the event. The list of sessions to be featured were identified by many of you—NERC’s Board Members, Advisory Members, and attendees of previous NERC events. They include:
More details about the presenters and session schedule are available in the Agenda.
Exhibitor Space & Sponsorship Opportunities Available.
Any questions about the Conference, contact Mary Ann Remolador, NERC’s Assistant Director & Event Organizer.
On October 3, 2 p.m. eastern, NERC, in collaboration with NEWMOA, will be presenting a webinar about the use of compost in road and infrastructure projects.
Jean Bonhatal, Cornell Waste Management Institute – a well-known and widely respected expert in organics management – will be the presenter.
The presentation will emphasize examples of the use of compost in road projects. Registration for the webinar is required.
For more information, contact Lynn Rubinstein, NERC.
Interest in managing packaging is a topic of great interest in the US, Canada, and Europe. In response to numerous requests, NERC has organized a packaging webinar series. The second webinar in the series is Canadian Packaging EPR, to be held on October 24 at 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (eastern). Register Here.
The webinar will detail Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia's packaging EPR programs—how they are structured and implemented, as well as program costs and revenues. The Webinar presenters include: Mathieu Guillemette, Senior Director of Services to Municipalities, Eco Enterprises Quebec; Joanne St. Goddard, Executive Director of the Recycling Council of Ontario; and David Lefebvre, Director of Public Affairs, Recycle BC.
The last webinar in the series—European Packaging EPR—will be held on December 5, 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (EST) Register Here
If you have any questions about the packaging webinars, contact Mary Ann Remolador, NERC's Assistant Director.
The Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) and Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEWMOA) are currently drafting a white paper as well as a briefing paper about Printer Paper & Packaging Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). These documents are in response to a request from the Northeast Committee on the Environment (NECOE) for information about packaging and paper EPR to help policymakers, state officials, and affected industries design successful systems. A joint workgroup of NERC and NEWMOA Board members representing state recycling agencies is overseeing and assisting with this effort.
The white paper will include:
It will be published before January 1, 2020.
The briefing paper will provide a short overview of the same topics but written for a general audience rather than for policy makers and legislators. It will be published by November 1, 2019.
For more information, contact:
More than 480 people registered for the US Legislative Strategies for Packaging Webinar held on September 11. The webinar attendees were a diverse audience from 36 states, the District of Columbia, and four Canadian provinces.
The webinar provided insights into the different approaches states are taking to address packaging. Cole Rosengren, Senior Editor of Waste Dive, provided an overview of the different strategies states have proposed across the nation to deal with packaging and how industry groups have responded. Cole also focused in on the Northeast states' specific approaches and their status. Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director of the National Stewardship Action Council, presented California’s proposed strategies and the implementation steps incorporated into their plan. In addition, Sarah Lakeman, Sustainable Maine Project Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, presented the specifics of Maine’s proposed strategies and their intended outcomes.
The recording and presentations from the webinar and subsequent webinars in the series can be found by going to the Resources section of NERC’s website and then selecting webinars.
Any questions about the Packaging Webinar Series can be directed to Mary Ann Remolador, NERC’s Assistant Director.
NERC’s Implementing Rural Community Composting in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont is having positive results in gaining community support and recognition.
Community composting takes place on a scale between backyard and industrial options. The practice helps to instill in citizens a way to take action on a local level to give something back to their community and the environment by diverting food scraps from disposal. Keeping organic resources local to make a valuable compost product for community use helps participants learn the value of food scrap diversion and composting as well as the role it can play in building community.
One the most important roles of community composting is providing training in local food waste management options. Most of the sites in NERC’s project are being designed as outdoor education centers for teaching community and home composting. For many rural and small communities, these operations can be an important component of organics diversion efforts.
Through NERC’s project, multimedia educational resources, including videos, written tip sheets, and webinars are being developed. To date, NERC and project team partners have organized eighteen trainings (formal including onsite team trainings, community trainings on community and backyard composting, participation on conference panels and “informal,” including “mini-compost workshops” at events) with an estimated 350 participants.
Project Community Compost Sites
There are ten community compost sites participating in the project:
The church Sustainability Team is interested in expanding its sustainability practices to include food scrap composting. The church hosts regular community meals, has an onsite day care, and also provides the community food bank, all of which generate significant food scraps.
NERC’s project is funded through the US Department of Agriculture, Rural Utility Services, Solid Waste Management Grant Program. Each community compost site receives $1,000 through the project to purchase equipment and supplies for their site. BioBag America has generously donated kitchen caddies and certified compostable collection bags (suitable for community and backyard composting) for all of the sites participating in the project. ReoTemp compost, a compost thermometer manufacture, is providing a discount to project sites for purchasing composting thermometers.
Later this fall a free, two-part webinar modeled on the community composting team building and site development will be offered.
For more information on the project or community composting, contact Athena Lee Bradley.Newly Published
This webinar, which took place on September 11th, provided insights into the different approaches states are taking to address packaging. Cole Rosengren, Senior Editor of Waste Dive, provided an overview of the different strategies states have proposed across the nation to deal with packaging and how industry groups have responded. Cole also focused in on the Northeast states' specific approaches and their status. Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director of the National Stewardship Action Council, presented California’s proposed strategies and the implementation steps incorporated into their plan. In addition, Sarah Lakeman, Sustainable Maine Project Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, presented the specifics of Maine’s proposed strategies and their intended outcomes.
The recording and presentations from the webinar and subsequent webinars in the series can be found by going to the Resources section of NERC’s website and then selecting webinars.
In mid-September, NERC presented at the Connecticut Recyclers Coalitions' Annual Meeting - sharing the stage with CT DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. Lynn Rubinstein, Executive Director, presented about the NERC-NEWMOA Regional Recycling Markets Committee; its activities and products. The PowerPoint presentation is available online. For more information, contact Lynn Rubinstein.
Advisory Member Updates
As most kids are getting ready to head back to school, there is one class that just ended.
This summer, Foam Cycle and the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority (SCMUA) were fortunate to have been awarded a Green Team from Montclair State University (MSU) to study the first patent-pending Foam Cycle Foam Packaging (aka Styrofoam) recycling system, that has been in operation since 2016. Of the hundreds of students from all over the country that applied for this competitive program, eight teams each made up of five students, were chosen to address sustainability issues with the various public and private companies.
In late May, the Foam Cycle/SCUMA Green Team took to the outside classroom and dug right in spending many days at the Sussex County landfill, operating the Foam Cycle system, tracking the recycled foam from the point of generation to a moulding manufacturer, then to a picture frame assemble plant. The team completed a list of deliverables that will forever change the perception that Foam Packaging waste cannot, and should not, be recycled.
In the end the team helped advance a new concept called “Better Frame”; a picture frame made from 100% recycled foam packaging waste that can be traced back to the very site where the foam waste came from. At the core of this concept is that if the frame is broken or no longer wanted, it can be sent back to the manufacturer to be recycled and made into a new frame, keeping this waste material out of our landfills and waterways forever. How cool is that! Now that’s a true closed loop circular economy recycling program, if there ever was one.
The Better Frame website just launched and, yes you will be able to purchase one of these beautiful frames, along with its environmental story for your office or home! The Foam Cycle/SCUMA Green Team presentation can be found here PDF attached. The MSU Green Team’s final report, including site analysis data and more detailed information, along with a sample of the frame can be sent upon request. Just shoot us an email at info@BetterFrame.org.
“BRING IT!”, was another recycling diversion campaign that the Green Team was working on. The aim of the initiative was to help the public understand that foam packaging waste cannot be placed in a curbside recycling bin, as it needs to be dropped off to be recycled. If your city, county or municipality has a drop off recycling center, we would be happy to talk to you about installing a Foam Cycle system, incorporating a BRING IT! campaign and becoming a Better Frame partner. Benefits of the partnership would include Foam Cycle selling your densified foam at market pricing (currently $400-$600 a ton), with an option to purchase picture frames at wholesale pricing that were made from the foam waste of your recycling drop-off location. This unique opportunity could offer nonprofit organizations such as Scouts and school clubs looking for fundraising ideas, as well as raising awareness for your community recycling program.
(Psst… Want to know more about SCMUA’s landfill operation and extensive recycling drop-off recycling center, including the Foam Cycle system? Check out the August 2019 edition of Waste Advantage magazine! You can read about it here.
“They say it can’t be recycled, we’re here to prove them wrong”
Need a recycling sign for accepted materials in your office, apartment complex, university, school, or drop-off program? Meet DIYSigns, The Recycling Partnership’s latest free online tool (Beta).
DIYSigns is a free, editable resource that assists with the production of consistent signage to help Americans know what to throw into any recycling container, anywhere.
Help reduce consumer confusion by informing residents what they should recycle, right where the behavior is taking place. More than 100 variations available!
No special graphics software needed to download– only Adobe Flash. Sign up at recyclingpartnership.org/DIYSigns to gain access to editable templates available in sizes from bumper stickers to posters. Signs can be customized for any company, any jurisdiction, and any type of recyclables.
Start creating your free signs to reduce contamination today!
Recycling continues to power the American economy based on a new study conducted by John Dunham and Associates and released by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). In addition to its positive environmental benefits, the recycling industry is responsible for more than 531,500 jobs and an overall economic impact of nearly $110 billion.
“The recycling industry continues to power America’s manufacturing base, creating jobs, generating tax revenue, and proving valuable feedstock for new products,” said Joe Pickard, chief economist for ISRI. “In the U.S., we continue to process more material into valuable commodities, seventy percent of which is used right here by American manufacturers. With the innovation and new technologies coming online, this trend is expected to continue upward.”
The study found that in 2019, 164,154 jobs are being directly supported by the recycling and brokerage operations of the scrap industry in the U.S. In addition, 367,356 jobs are indirectly supported by the industry through suppliers and the indirect impact of the industry’s expenditures. The indirect jobs include thousands of people in other sectors such as servers in restaurants, construction workers, teachers, and other professionals.
“Most importantly, this study reinforces the strength and resiliency of the scrap recycling industry,” said Pickard. “Recycling has always been based on supply and demand. Yet, at no other time have there been such fluctuations in global market conditions and demand for the high-quality scrap produced by the U.S. The fact that the industry is responding to these outside forces, and remaining an economic force is a testament to its ability to adapt and a strong workforce.”
The $110 billion economic impact puts the recycling industry on par with the radio and television broadcasting, building services, and warehousing and storage industries. It includes the roughly $4.94 billion in state and local tax revenues generated along with another $7.96 billion federal taxes.
A full breakdown of the study, including the economic impact by state, congressional district, state legislative district, and selected cities is available for further research. Information includes overall impact, wages, and economic benefits of exports. The economic impact of each commodity is also available.
ISRI’s Shredder Operations Forum returns this year with an emphasis on operations and maintenance of shredder equipment. This year’s Forum brings back popular activities such as a tour of a shredding facility. The 2019 agenda will focus on new technology, trends in mobile and smaller shedders, safety, preventative maintenance and much more. The scrap industry is one where participants learn best through networking and information sharing and we have designed the agenda to let participants network at a receptions as well as lunch and the mid-morning breaks. This year’s Ops Forum will provide opportunities to find out what the latest and greatest equipment the industry has to offer in the exhibition area. Both speakers and industry veterans will also be on hand throughout the two days of the event to answer attendee’s questions in both group and one-on-one conversations.
Of General Interest
Recycling has never been a hot topic on Capitol Hill. RCRA, also known as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, is the federal solid waste law. It barely mentions recycling and says little about resource conservation. Instead, RCRA emphasizes that solid waste is primarily a state and local responsibility.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is directed to regulate hazardous wastes, to develop guidelines for solid waste disposal and to work with the states on their solid waste plans. The Department of Commerce is assigned some recycling market responsibilities.
After the passage of RCRA, Congress pretty much lost interest in solid waste. Love Canal and other instances of serious pollution caused by improper disposal of hazardous waste led to the Superfund law. EPA was under substantial pressure to implement that law and to regulate hazardous wastes both quickly and effectively. In 1981, the newly elected Reagan administration continued to work on Superfund and hazardous waste issues. But that administration also made it clear that solid waste and recycling were state, not federal, responsibilities. EPA activities in both areas were essentially eliminated.
Little was done on either until the voyage of the Garbage Barge in 1987. The sight of 3,000 tons of Long Island, N.Y.’s finest trash floating aimlessly down the East Coast launched a media sensation. Garbage was on the front page, and Americans started asking themselves why we weren’t recycling more. EPA suddenly rediscovered recycling.
So did Congress. Legislation to enact a national beverage container deposit law garnered dozens of cosponsors on both sides of the aisle. The bills didn’t make it out of committee. House and Senate committees held hearings on how to improve recycling. In 1994, a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill creating a “multi-options packaging strategy” that was intended to increase package recycling and recyclability. The bill, however, was not voted on by the full committee.
Since then, Congress did essentially nothing on recycling. History repeated itself when the Trump administration attempted to defund EPA’s solid waste and recycling activities. As had happened 36 years previously, the administration argued that waste and recycling were state and local issues. Federal involvement was unnecessary. However, the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by a New Jersey Republican, was not interested in zeroing out these activities. The money remained in the budget, but the question remained, would EPA do anything significant in recycling?
Then, on America Recycles Day last November, EPA’s administrator hosted a recycling “summit.” Along with 44 groups, the agency signed a pledge to do better. The administrator apparently decided that recycling is more than a state function. A follow-up meeting will be held this year on America Recycles Day to present ideas on how to improve recycling, including education, infrastructure, markets and measurement.
In addition, two recycling bills have been introduced and two are on their way. The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, with sponsors from both the Senate and the House and from both parties, directs EPA to develop a national strategy on recycling. This bill is a follow-up to last year’s Save Our Seas Act, which extended the Marine Debris Act by five years. Another bill, the Zero Waste Act (Omar, D-Minnesota), would authorize federal grants to local government recycling and waste reduction programs.
In addition, Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-California) are preparing legislation to do something about “the plastic waste crisis.” Their outline includes a national bottle deposit, bans on certain plastics, producer responsibility for products and packaging and a fee on carryout bags. The bill has not been introduced.
Recycling advocates are also working hard to getting money to rebuild the recycling infrastructure as part of an infrastructure bill. Strategies are nice. Money is better.
Finally, 45 members of Congress sent a letter to the secretary of commerce reminding him of the recycling market responsibilities assigned to his department by RCRA. They asked, essentially, what, if anything, commerce was doing about them.
Filing bills in Congress and sending letters to cabinet officials asking if they are doing their job does not guarantee anything will happen. The EPA administrator’s embrace of recycling is more indicative of a political appointee trying to look pro-environment on at least one issue. The Save Our Seas 2.0 bill has support from members of the committees necessary to ensure that the legislation moves forward. It may have the best chance of success. Neither of the other two have this depth of support. Whether or not recycling is in an infrastructure bill that passes Congress and is signed into law remains to be seen.
Nonetheless, all of this Hill and EPA activity shows that politicians are listening. They know their constituents are worried about the state of recycling in America and want Congress to take action, whatever that may be. They know that they look good responding to their constituents. They are willing to make recycling something they spend time on. Who knows, maybe this time something significant could happen on the Hill.
Chaz Miller is a longtime veteran of the waste and recycling industry and an Ex Officio member of the NERC Board of Directors. He can be reached at email@example.com.