Renewing Sustaining Members
Renewing Supporting Member
Membership is key to NERC's regional and national commitment to sustainable materials management. We are delighted to welcome our n renewing Sustaining Members Good Point Recycling and Schaefer Systems International, and renewing Supporting Member EFS-plastics.
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 Mattress Recycling Council (MRC), one of NERC’s newest Sustaining Advisory Members, is our featured member spotlight this month.
In the U.S., at least 15 million mattresses are discarded every year or an average of 50,000 per day. In 2013, Connecticut became the first state in the country to enact a law requiring the industry to develop and administer a statewide program to collect and recycle discarded mattresses and box springs. California and Rhode Island followed with similar legislation later that year. MRC is the nonprofit organization formed by the mattress industry to operate these state programs. Known as Bye Bye Mattress to consumers, each state’s program is funded by a recycling fee collected when consumers buy a mattress or box spring.
Now in its 6th year, MRC’s leadership is remarkable: more than six million mattresses recycled, diverting waste from landfills in program states through reuse, recycling and biomass. MRC has successfully developed mattress collection networks and contracts with third party recycling facilities across the states where it operates to dismantle old mattresses and box springs. These efforts have reduced reliance on incinerators and landfills by diverting mattresses from the waste stream, created jobs and helped reduce the number of illegally dumped mattresses. Recent articles in both the Connecticut Mirror and Hartford Courant detail the positive impact of the program.
Across the country, several states are actively considering adding mattress recycling legislation.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed legislation earlier this year. The International Sleep Products Association (ISPA) (another NERC Member and the group that created MRC) is actively engaging with the Governor’s office, legislators and stakeholders with hopes to expand to the populous state and achieve economies of scale in the Northeast. Maine passed a mattress recycling study bill last year. ISPA is actively engaged in this effort, working with local stakeholders on a possible pilot recycling program in the near future. In Massachusetts, legislators are considering similar legislation.
In each state where MRC’s Bye Bye Mattress program operates, MRC:
Mattresses are collected through a variety of channels, offering consumers and businesses options for recycling, including:
More than 80 percent of mattress components can be recycled, diverting valuable resources from local landfills. The most prominent commodities extracted include:
MRC supports this effort by investing in research to identify new end markets to increase recycling rates, improve the efficiency of used mattress collection and help MRC’s recyclers increase profitability by identifying mattress dismantling and recycling best practices. This short video explains more about MRC and the positive impact it is having in program
“MRC joined NERC to promote the importance of mattress recycling and the leading role that manufacturers play in product stewardship in the mattress industry,” according to MRC Policy and Government Affairs Coordinator Grant Johnson. “Participation in NERC conferences and events is important to our mission.”
NERC enthusiastically welcomes MRC to its growing roster of Sustaining Advisory Members and looks forward to a collaboration that will successfully bring effective mattress recycling laws to additional states.
NERC’s Fall ’20 Conference is a virtual three-day event on October 20 – 22 (1 p.m. – 5 p.m. daily). With the drastic market changes over the past year, the Pandemic, and resulting budgetary constraints, it has left us all searching for creative solutions for recycling. NERC’s Conference will explore the Changing Face of Recycling: Finding New Solutions.
The Conference brings together some of the most revered professionals in recycling to share their perspectives on current materials management and sustainability issues, including: recycling end-markets, racial justice, effective communication, fiber recovery, robotics sorting, circular business models, lithium batteries, state packaging EPR, Bottle Bills, and model legislation for minimum recycled content. As a virtual event, the Conference also offers the opportunity to chat with your colleagues and visit the virtual sponsor exhibit hall.
Take a look at the Conference Agenda for more details. We hope you will join us for the Conference and participate in the discussions.
Conference contact: Mary Ann Remolador, Assistant Director & Conference Organizer.
A workshop about using recycled content in road and infrastructure projects will take place November 16 and 17, 1 - 4 eastern each day.
Sponsored by the Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) and the Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEWMOA), in partnership with NRRA, MRRA, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Transportation, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and Department of Transportation, and the New Hampshire Technology Transfer Center, the workshop will highlight experts on:
CEU's are available from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania (PROP).
The Northeast Glass Forum was a two-day virtual event that focused on glass markets for the Northeast region. During the eight-hour event, the more than 150 attendees participated in sessions and discussions about the issues of the Northeast glass markets, alternative uses for non-bottle bill glass, and different technologies and methods for economically collecting and recycling glass for end markets.
The Glass Forum also included the Virtual Sponsor Exhibit Hall for attendees to learn more about the different entities supporting the glass industry. The Forum Exhibit Hall will be available on NERC’s website through November 2.
For additional information about NERC’s work on glass, visit the Glass Committee webpage.
On September 24, NERC & NEWMOA are hosting a webinar about legislated requirements for minimum recycled content in products and packaging. With this webinar, we’ll learn about voluntary actions by brands and others to increase the use of minimum recycled content and their impact on the recycling marketplace.
CEU's are available from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.
Container deposit laws received renewed attention during the COVID-19 pandemic as many states suspended, or suspended enforcement, of their so-called bottle bill laws. At the same time, there are several initiatives examining how to expand the impact and of bottle bill laws and looking for best practices. This unique webinar, co-sponsored by NERC and NEWMOA, will examine this research and proposals.
CEU's are available from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.
Taking action to support the recycling industry is essential - especially these days. A new national program, the NERC-APR Government Recycling Demand Champion Program, provides a simple strategy for closing the loop by buying products with post-consumer plastic recycled content.
Learn more on a free webinar, November 5, 2 pm eastern.
Presenters will be:
This is a national program and all are welcome to join the webinar.
CEUs are available from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.
With the increased cost for recycling services, some municipalities are asking themselves if they should operate their own Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). On November 12, 1:30 eastern, we will hear the perspectives of three presenters that have first-hand experience with working through the question or have worked directly with communities that have. In addition to featuring different MRF operating models and examples of municipalities considering operating their own MRF, the presenters will share their experience with the questions to ask that will inform the decision-making process before taking on this pivotal role in materials management.
CEU's are available from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and the Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania.
We hear about the challenges associated with plastic use, recycling and disposal almost every day. It's not just an issue in the US, it's a global issue. In this webinar - the first in a planned 3-part series on plastics - 3 prestigious speakers will present the global perspective and what their organizations initiatives.
This buy recycled training webinar is will provide public sector purchasing officials, decision-makers, and recycling advocates with information about:
The webinar will be presented by Richard Keller of the Baltimore County Bureau of Solid Waste Management, Recycling Division. Richard has more than 40 years of legislative, policy and implementation experience in buy recycling programs. He has been active at the federal, state, local and regional levels. He has conducted more than 180 training programs on buying recycled programs. He is the author of the Buy Recycled Training Manual. More than 12,000 copies have been distributed. Baltimore County is currently updating the manual.
If you missed the Glass Forum, you can still purchase access to the recording from each day and to the PowerPoint presentations (15). To complete your purchase, contact Robert Kropp, NERC’s Bookkeeper, with your credit card information at 802-254-3636. Once paid, a link to the Forum resources will be emailed to you.
If you have any questions regarding the Forum, contact Mary Ann Remolador, Assistant Director & Forum Organizer.
NERC has once again updated its report on announced increased capacity to use recycled paper. Last updated in March of this year, the new report reflects announcements through early September with additional information about the status of some previous announcements. For further information, contact Lynn Rubinstein, NERC Executive Director or Chaz Miller, Chair of the NERC-NEWMOA Regional Recycling Markets Committee.
With the completion of its USDA Rural Utilities Services grant to promote community composting in six states, several new resources have been posted to support community composting efforts around the country.
These resources are in addition to more than a dozen previously posted, including several webinar recordings. To find all related resources use NERC's resource search tool and select organics.
Connecticut's 65 cities and towns and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) have released a statement committing to work together as part of a Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management (CCSMM), a joint effort between DEEP and municipalities across the state to collectively pursue improved waste reduction strategies. Commissioner Katie Dykes, Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker and Durham First Selectman Laura Francis will serve as co-chairs of this initiative, which aims to develop a set of waste reduction action items by the end of 2020.
CCSMM will hold a kick-off meeting on early September with the goal of developing waste reduction-related action items that can be implemented by DEEP, by municipalities, or will require statutory changes by the end of December 2020. This will be accomplished by breaking into working groups on specific topics – such as organics collection – and by engaging stakeholders and developers with innovative solutions. The meetings of CCSMM will be open to the public. To date, 65 municipalities have signed on to this initiative, and more are considering joining.
In August, "Governor Lamont called for a new outlook regarding Connecticut's materials management and encouraged the pursuit of innovative strategies to reduce and manage our waste. DEEP is eager to work with municipal partners and engage community leaders and stakeholders around the state. We will work to develop achievable and innovative actions we can each take that, collectively, will build a materials management system that benefits all of Connecticut in an affordable, sustainable, environmental, and just fashion," said DEEP Commissioner and initiative co-chair, Katie Dykes. "Connecticut's municipal leaders are vital to the success of this effort and we are grateful for the enthusiastic support for this initiative and the potential for meaningful change it opens before us."
"I thank Commissioner Dykes for launching this bold initiative and I am delighted to join my colleagues from across the state as we tackle this critically important mission. Our communities are approaching a critical point. The old ways of burying trash and forgetting about it are over. We must work together to create actionable solutions that are affordable for Connecticut families and do more to protect our fragile environment." Said Matt Knickerbocker, initiative co-chair and First Selectman of Bethel, CT.
"I applaud Commissioner Dykes for her willingness to work side by side with municipalities on this initiative. I firmly believe that our collective need, knowledge, creativity and commitment to protecting our environment will generate innovative solutions for sustainable materials management for the State of Connecticut," said Laura Francis, initiative co-chair and First Selectman of Durham, CT.
For more information on this initiative, please visit https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP-CCSMM
A list of towns who have signed on to the initiative is available at the above website.
In March 2020, The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) launched a Reduce & Reuse (R&R) Workgroup to aid in the development of a Strategic Reduce and Reuse Action Plan for the state as outlined in the 2030 Solid Waste Master Plan. The R&R workgroup is currently meeting on a monthly basis and provides a forum for discussion of source reduction and reuse regulations, policies, and programs in Massachusetts.
The group has met seven times since the kickoff meeting and over 200 representatives from NGOs, businesses, advocacy groups, and local government from across the state have participated in these open discussions on source reduction and reuse. Meetings to date have focused on creating a culture of reuse in Massachusetts, how to increase recovery of household durable goods, and the repair movement. Future discussion topics include single use packaging, building materials, textiles and clothing, electronics, used/surplus furniture, and transportation and distribution packaging.
To facilitate networking amongst reuse advocates between R&R working group meetings, MassDEP has also created the MA Reduce & Reuse Network (a google group listserv). The working group and listserv are both open to anyone interested in providing input on source reduction, reuse, and repair strategy in Massachusetts, and keeping informed of new policy and program developments. You can learn more about the strategic planning process and see past meeting materials on the MassDEP website here and subscribe to the Reduce & Reuse Network listserv by emailing: ReduceReuseNetwork-MAfirstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, contact Erin Victor, email@example.com.
MassDEP is sharing the message that pizza boxes, along with grease and residual cheese, are recyclable. While Massachusetts MRFs have been accepting pizza boxes for several years, the new report issued by West Rock and affirmed by the American Forest & Paper Assn and the Fibre Box Association corroborates this. Pizza box recycling messages will be shared through Recycle Smart MA social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; as well as through the feature article in our August Newsletter.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced new academic collaborations with three State University of New York colleges that will help drive solutions to benefit local and statewide solid waste management and recycling. These partnerships with the University at Buffalo, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and Stony Brook University will focus on innovative strategies to improve recycling and waste reduction to simultaneously strengthen New York's economy and protect the environment.
Recycling markets are currently experiencing unprecedented volatility due in part to tightening import restrictions in Asia. As a result, some U.S. recycling operations are struggling to find suitable markets for material, impacting local solid waste recycling efforts. The state Department of Environmental Conservation is working with key stakeholders and municipalities to strategize how New York can bolster new markets and help municipalities address these challenges and build capacity in the state and northeast region.
"With ongoing changes to worldwide recycling markets threatening our efforts to reduce waste and protect our resources, this new collaboration will tackle these challenges head-on and will help ensure New York's legacy of environmental stewardship continues," Governor Cuomo said. "We are working closely with some of our best academic institutions to develop strategies that will help make a cleaner, greener Empire State for all."
A total of $11.9 million from the state's Environmental Protection Fund will support three SUNY institutions working with DEC on a series of recycling initiatives that will help municipalities and businesses streamline the recycling process, lower costs, improve public outreach strategies, and protect the environment.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Governor Cuomo is helping our state continue to lead the nation in educating the public about the importance of reducing solid waste through reduction, reuse, and recycling. More work remains and DEC's partnership with SUNY schools will help us address the challenges facing us today by ensuring all communities develop best practices to reduce the amount of solid waste generated, reuse material for its intended purpose, or recycle material that cannot be reused. By partnering with these SUNY schools, New York continues its sustainability efforts by advancing ambitious and proactive actions both now and into the future."
University at Buffalo
DEC entered into a $1.9 million partnership with the University at Buffalo with a two-fold objective. Research will focus on assessing the state of the plastics recycling market. Recent changes in recycling markets have made contamination in recycling streams a major issue, reducing the value of the materials being recycled. In order for recycling to continue as a viable industry, contamination must be reduced. Using data collected globally, researchers at UB will work with DEC to evaluate sorting technologies and assess potential costs and benefits to improve recycling infrastructure. In addition, researchers will examine different ways to reduce plastic use by finding more sustainable substitutes.
UB will also evaluate the effectiveness of single- versus multi-stream recycling and bottle deposit efforts, specifically as they relate to plastics contamination reduction. The second area of research focuses on behavioral science involving recycling outreach and education messaging and methods. Evaluating the messaging and mediums available to best advance education and outreach statewide is critical to reducing contamination, maintaining the value of recyclables, and efficiently and effectively using resources. These projects will be conducted over a two-year period.
UB's Research and Education in Energy, Environment and Water (RENEW) Institute Director and SUNY Distinguished Professor Amit Goyal said, "Prudent investments like this from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will ensure that New York State plays a leadership role that other communities nationwide can follow to make recycling programs more effective. With our multidisciplinary research team, UB's RENEW Institute is uniquely positioned to provide solutions for the plastics recycling industry, which has been thrown into turmoil. We're excited to work with the DEC on assessing and improving plastic recycling as well as outreach and educational programs."
College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
DEC entered into a five-year, $5.75-million partnership with SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse to help establish the New York State Center for Sustainable Materials Management at ESF. This investment will help develop a comprehensive plan to improve recycling and address market access challenges for recyclable materials. Local government recyclers are currently experiencing decreased recycling revenues and increased costs due to the lack of market access for collected materials. ESF's work will also focus on waste prevention and reduction, as well as a comprehensive community outreach and public education campaign with direct stakeholder engagement led by its partner, Syracuse University. Other projects include the research and development of recycling alternatives for "non-recyclable fibrous materials" such as lower grade paper, including composting and conversion options.
Officer-in-Charge at ESF Joseph L. Rufo said, "This Center will help reduce waste and reinvigorate the State's recycling industry. As part of this effort, ESF will serve as a convener for a variety of related state-wide initiatives with efforts that are destined to be economic engines, creating far more jobs than landfills. A variety of ESF faculty, staff, and students will work hand-in-glove with the DEC, other SUNY campuses, Syracuse University, and other partners statewide. Ultimately, the goal is to transition this state Center into a national center when the time is right."
Stony Brook University
DEC entered into a $4.2 million partnership with Stony Brook University for projects that include solid waste characterization studies of recyclables and waste that analyze how these materials are processed to create more marketable materials. Through collaborations with multiple recycling facilities, university researchers, and DEC will work to determine the efficiency of current recycling programs across the state, as well as the types of materials remaining in the waste stream.
In addition to improving the understanding of various waste compositions, Stony Brook University will work on a user-friendly economic analysis tool for municipalities to determine the cost of recycling programs, conduct case studies on single-stream recycling, and analyze first order recycling and the circular economy. These projects will take place over a five-year period and will help DEC develop policies and other actions to support better materials management for New York State.
Co-PI and Research Associate Professor in the Department of Technology and Society at Stony Brook University David Tonjes, PhD., said, "Understanding what is in the wastes we collect is essential to determining how best to manage these materials. Describing the actual waste streams collected across New York State is an important first step to tuning our recycling programs to achieve sustainable materials management. We look forward to fruitful collaborations with municipalities across the State as we develop a better picture of what we currently recycle and what we still throw out. Our crew of enthusiastic student researchers worked hard on the initial sorting efforts we made last fall and early spring, and look forward to going back into the field when it is feasible to do so again."
Each of the participating SUNY schools will receive funding through the State's EPF. The 2020-21 budget continues the highest sustained level of funding in the EPF's 25-year history. In addition, EPF funding for municipal recycling programs increased by $1.3 million to $15.3 million. The budget also builds on the Governor's historic effort to reduce environmental pollution statewide by prohibiting the distribution and use of expanded polystyrene single-use foam food containers. It also bans the sale of expanded polystyrene packaging materials known as packing peanuts. This is the strongest statewide ban in the United States and will go into effect by January 1, 2022.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced that DEC will begin enforcement of the State’s ban on single-use plastic carryout bags on Oct. 19, 2020. The plastic bag ban, which went into effect on March 1, was not enforced per an agreement between the parties in a lawsuit brought by Poly-Pak Industries, Inc., et al, in New York State Supreme Court.
DEC Commissioner Seggos said, “The Court’s decision is a victory and a vindication of New York State’s efforts to end the scourge of single-use plastic bags and a direct rebuke to the plastic bag manufacturers who tried to stop the law and DEC’s regulations to implement it. As we have for many months, DEC is encouraging New Yorkers to make the switch to reusable bags whenever and wherever they shop and to use common-sense precautions to keep reusable bags clean. The Court has ruled and DEC will begin to enforce the ban on October 19. It’s time to BYOBagNY.”
Pursuant to an Order of the New York State Supreme Court, Albany County, DEC agreed to provide the parties and the Court at least 30 days' notice prior to commencing enforcement. DEC is currently conducting extensive outreach to stakeholders, including grocery stores, retailers, and others, to provide notice of the start of enforcement and answer questions.
DEC continues to encourage New Yorkers to use reusable bags wherever and whenever they shop with the #BYOBagNY campaign, launched earlier this year. Additional information about exemptions to the plastic bag ban, frequently asked questions, and posters, flyers, and tip strips to download, as well as tips for keeping reusable bags clean are available on the DEC website.
New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags annually—each for about 12 minutes—and approximately 85 percent of this staggering total ends up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways, and streets. In March 2017, Governor Cuomo created the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force, chaired by DEC Commissioner Seggos. The task force met several times to develop a uniform, comprehensive, and equitable solution to the challenge of plastic bag waste. The final report analyzed the impacts of single-use plastic bags and provided options for legislation that could help develop a statewide solution. In addition, following passage of the New York State Plastic Bag Waste Reduction Act, DEC held a series of meetings with industry stakeholders across the state to invite input from the public and guide the agency's development of rules and regulations to implement the law.
For more information about the plastic bag ban, reusable bags, or to file a complaint about entities using single-use plastic carryout bags, visit DEC’s website, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (518) 402-8706.
The lawsuit brought by Poly-Pak Industries, Inc., Green Earth Food Corp., Francisco Marte, Mike Hassen, and the Bodega and Small Business Association in New York State Supreme Court. DEC was represented by the New York State Attorney General’s Office in the lawsuit. The Court issued its decision in the case on Aug. 20, 2020. Advisory Member Updates
New survey data from The Recycling Partnership and the South West News Service confirms that 85% of Americans strongly believe in recycling. This is especially timely as we all navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on communities and recycling businesses across the country.
Recycling and reuse activities support 757,000 American jobs and generate billions of dollars in economic activity annually. Recycling also delivers critical feedstock to the U.S. manufacturing supply chain. Paper mills, plastics reclaimers, aluminum, and steel mills, and glass plants rely on the material delivered through the recycling system to make new goods and keep American jobs intact.
The Recycling Partnership is a national nonprofit that works with companies, communities, and policymakers to strengthen recycling across the United States. Our world needs solutions to repair the economy in a way that protects both the planet and its people. We work to create resilient, effective recycling programs that allow for more jobs, more valuable materials to be returned to our economy, and fewer environmental impacts.
Want to know what else we found out from the survey? Click here.
To learn more about the state of curbside recycling in the United States, check out our 2020 State of Curbside Recycling report.
The Recycling Partnership is pleased to announce today the launch of its Polypropylene Recycling Coalition, an industry collaboration to improve polypropylene recovery and recycling in the United States and further develop the end-market of high-quality recycled polypropylene. The Coalition is also taking its first action by opening a Request For Proposals (RFP) for Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) to apply for financial grants to enable improved sortation of polypropylene and widen acceptance through consumer education programs in communities.
The Polypropylene Recycling Coalition, as part of The Recycling Partnership’s Pathway to Circularity Initiative, is supported by funders representing all segments of the material’s value chain, including founding members Keurig Dr Pepper, Braskem, and the Walmart Foundation. Additional inaugural members include American Chemistry Council, Danone North America, EFS Plastics, KW Plastics, LyondellBasell, Procter & Gamble, St. Joseph Plastics, and Winpak. The Coalition set an initial funding target of $35 million over five years and is seeking additional supporters.
“Together, we can stimulate a systemwide shift to increase the capture of polypropylene and demand for recycled content. We encourage all companies that use polypropylene to be part of the solution,” said Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership. “The Polypropylene Recycling Coalition’s work to improve and increase the recovery of polypropylene will support jobs, preserve natural resources, and help build a circular economy in the United States.”
This industry-wide collaborative will address key opportunities in recycling polypropylene, or No.5 plastic, which has properties that make it an invaluable material found in everyday consumer packaging such as yogurt cups, coffee pods, butter tubs, and many others. According to The Recycling Partnership’s 2020 State of Curbside Recycling report, there may be as much as 1.6 billion pounds of polypropylene available per year from single-family homes that could be recycled into new products ranging from automotive parts to personal care and food packaging.
The Polypropylene Recycling Coalition’s RFP will improve polypropylene recycling in the United States by awarding grant dollars to be applied to purchasing polypropylene sorting equipment and supporting consumer education programs in communities. Through funding like these grants, research, and consumer education programs, the Coalition aims to make it easier for people to recycle polypropylene in curbside recycling and ensure that more recyclers can effectively sort the material in their facilities.
The Polypropylene Recycling Coalition will be aided by an advisory committee of industry leaders including, Association of Plastic Recyclers, Closed Loop Partners, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and World Wildlife Fund. Former EPA Administrator Carol Browner will serve as an independent advisor to the Coalition.
To learn more about the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition, its members, and how to get involved in supporting its goals, visit recyclingpartnership.org/polypropylene-coalition. For MRFs interested in applying for a grant, the application is available on The Recycling Partnership’s website.