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September 2019

NERC’s Advisory Members

Distinguished Benefactors

Consumer Technology Association (CTA)

Panasonic

Samsung

Sustaining Members

  • American Chemistry Council

  • American Forest and Paper Association

  • Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR)

  • Bag To Earth

  • Casella Resource Solutions

  • Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast, Inc.

  • Council of State Governments/Eastern Regional Conference

  • CURC

  • Dart Container

  • Glass Recycling Coalition

  • Good Point Recycling

  • Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI)

  • International Bottled Water Association

  • Interstate Refrigerant Recovery

  • Keep America Beautiful

  • Keurig Dr. Pepper

  • Marcal, A Soundview Paper Company

  • MRM

  • National Waste & Recycling Association

  • NEWMOA

  • Organix Solutions

  • PaintCare

  • Re-TRAC

  • Recycling Partnership

  • Republic Services

  • Schaefer Systems International, Inc.

  • Sims Municipal Recycling

  • Steel Recycling Institute

  • Strategic Materials

  • Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC)

  • TOMRA

  • US Composting Council (USCC)

  • Waste Management

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

New & Renewing Memberships

New Sustaining Member

Renewing Sustaining Members

New Supporting Member

Renewing Supporting Members

Member Spotlight - Marcal, A Soundview Paper Company

NERC News

Newly Posted

State Updates

MASSACHUSETTS

Advisory Member News

Of General Interest

New & Renewing Memberships

Membership is key to NERC's regional and national commitment to sustainable materials management. We are delighted to welcome our newest Sustaining Member - Marcal, A Soundview Paper Company - which has a Member Spotlight published in this Bulletin, as well as our newest Supporting Member - EFS-plastics.  We also thank renewing Sustaining Members Coca-Cola Bottling of Northern New England, ISRI (a 3-year membership), Organix Solutions, Republic Services, and Schaefer Systems International, as well as renewing Supporting Members Call2Recycle, Chittenden Solid Waste District, VermontFoam CycleProfessional Recyclers of Pennsylvania (PROP), and Resource Recycling Systems (RRS).

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.

Member Spotlight - Marcal, A Soundview Paper Company

Today more than ever, both businesses and consumers are committed to making environmentally-sound purchasing decisions. These environmentally conscious consumers want to be assured that the paper products they purchase are produced with recycled fiber.  Furthermore, they want to ensure that this ecological thought process begins in production and manufacturing and continues through to the end-product.

Founded in 1932 by Nicholas Marcalus, Marcal Paper Company developed and employed technology for the recycling of waste paper into pulp---making Marcal a pioneer in the Paper Products industry to “Go Green.”  Marcal Paper Company stays true to its 87-year-old legacy of innovation and dedication to those practices, so we are pleased to announce our new partnership with the Northeast Recycling Council or NERC!

NERC is a coalition which engages with communities and states to promote increased recycling, as well as source reduction and purchasing products with recycled content. Marcal is the perfect partner for this, as it works with these same municipalities to take the collected paper and turn it into commercially viable products for the home and office.

Annually, Marcal saves over 1,000,000 trees and recycles more than 200,000 tons of waste paper---reducing landfills and producing more than 12 million cases of recycled paper products. The manufacturing process begins with 100% recycled pulp and does not use chlorine bleach; thereby protecting water quality and the conservation of wildlife. The result is an extensive offering of 100% recycled, hypoallergenic products for home and commercial use. 

“Because of recycled pulp’s substantial environmental benefits,” a recent report states, “the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)…recommends…purchasing paper towels that contain at least 40 to 60 percent postconsumer recycled content and 40 to 100 percent total recovered fiber, and bathroom tissue that contains at least 20 to 60 percent postconsumer recycled content and 20 to 100 percent total recovered fiber.” All of Marcal’s tissue and towel products easily exceed the recommended minimums. Read more about the tissue industry and Marcal’s environmental leadership.

 “Given Marcal’s long history of responsible environmental stewardship, becoming a NERC Advisory Member is a natural next step. We are extremely proud to participate in the creation of this unique, regional, closed-loop recycling program which could serve as a model for other communities and paper makers to emulate!” John Glaze, Executive VP of Sales and Marketing at Marcal.

Please visit our website for more information.

NERC NEWS

Don’t Miss Out the NERC Conference Discounted Registration Rate

You only have until September 6 to take advantage of the discounted registration rate for NERC’s Fall Conference—Much Ado About Plastics.  Here is a snapshot of the sessions and speakers you can expect at the Conference:

More details about the speakers and schedule are in the Conference Agenda

Exhibitor Space & Sponsorship Opportunities Available

CONFERENCE SPONSORS

SILVER SPONSORS

 

BRONZE SPONSORS

 

For more information about the Conference, contact Mary Ann Remolador, NERC’s Assistant Director & Event Organizer

NERC Offering Three Webinars about Packaging

In the next four months, NERC will host the following webinars:

  • September 11 - U.S. REGULATORY APPROACHES FOR PACKAGING

1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. (eastern) Register Here

The US Regulatory Approaches for Packaging webinar will provide insight into the different approaches states are taking to address packaging.  Cole Rosengren, Senior Editor of Waste Dive, will present an overview of the different strategies states have proposed across the nation to deal with packaging and how industry groups have responded.  Cole will also focus in on the Northeast states specific approaches and their status.  Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director of the National Stewardship Action Council, will present California’s proposed strategies and the steps they have incorporated into their proposed approach.  In addition, Sarah Lakeman, Sustainable Maine Project Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, will present the specifics of Maine’s proposed strategies and their intended outcomes.

  • October 24 CANADIAN PACKAGING EPR, 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (eastern) Register Here

The Canadian Packaging EPR webinar will detail EPR models implemented for packaging in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.  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.

  • December 5 EUROPEAN PACKAGING EPR, 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (eastern) Register Here

NERC's European Packaging EPR webinar will feature an overview of the different Packaging EPR Programs in Europe and the cost and revenue structure of each program. The webinar presenters are Clarissa Morawski, Managing Director of the Reloop Platform and Victor Bell, US Managing Director, Environmental Packaging International.

For more information about the webinars, contact Mary Ann Remolador, NERC’s Assistant Director.

New Board Member from New Hampshire

NERC is pleased to welcome Michael Nork, New Hampshire Department of

Michael Nork,NH DES

Environmental Services (NHDES), to the Board of Directors He is replacing Todd Moore, who served on the NERC Board for three years.  Todd was a great asset to the Board and he will be missed.

Michael joined NHDES in 2017, and works in the Solid Waste Management Bureau’s Permitting and Design Review Section. Michael also serves as the agency's point-person for recycling, composting and materials management, and has been chairing a stakeholder workgroup to advance revisions to NH’s composting regulations. Prior to joining NHDES, Michael worked at the Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA) providing technical assistance to municipal transfer stations and facility managers across northern New England.

Blog Published in Rebuttal to NPR Planet Money Podcast

Recently NPR Planet Money aired a podcast challenging the value of recycling, and especially recycling plastic bottles.  The Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) and the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) jointly wrote and published a blog, highlighting the misinformation conveyed in the podcast.

Following is the content of that blog.

Most people in the recycling community know that recycling is alive and well in the United States.  Although there are current adjustments due to the actions of China, there are markets for recycled plastics. Domestic markets for materials may have shifted from historical buyer relationships to new potential customers. China’s actions have also presented accelerated opportunities for recycling education and program improvements.  This is not just a cup half full motivated by denial – it is a matter of facts.

Many of the mass media pieces that we have seen or heard – and this now includes NPR’s Planet Money podcast (episode 926) – have featured the proverbial Chicken Little crying that the sky is falling.  Yes, bad news is always so much more engaging than good news, and yes, if one major media outlet presents claims that the public is wasting its time recycling, that recycling is in fact harmful to the environment, then other media outlets don’t want to be left out. 

But we have a proposal to make: how about reporting the facts and the truth instead? The truth is plenty interesting and exciting, and presents an important opportunity for leadership and pushing back at “fake news.” Alas, recycling now has its own fake news circuit and, unfortunately, NPR Planet Money has contributed to it. 

Some of the “facts” reported on the NPR podcast versus the accurate facts:

False Facts

Actual Facts

You create more environmental harm by recycling plastic bottles than throwing them out.  So, don’t try to recycle them.

 

There is no way to recycle plastic bottles in the United States, it all gets exported to Asian countries.  And, since China shut its doors, the U.S. is dumping its plastics on other Southeast Asian countries.

 

Plastic containers collected for recycling are being thrown out because they have to pay as much as $200/ton to recycle them.  This is happening all over the US.

According to a recent Life Cycle Analysis of recycled plastic vs. virgin plastics, which include all of the consumptions and energy uses and emissions, recycling is vastly superior in every category to disposal.   This includes total energy, greenhouse gas generation, waste water, water consumption, solid waste, and other air pollution. 

 

 

There is a vibrant and economically thriving plastic bottle recycling here in the U.S.  In fact, we don’t collect enough plastic bottles in recycling programs to take full advantage of existing recycling capacity. This isn’t new.  It was true well before the China Sword policy enactment.

 

Plastic bottles are a very valuable commodity – people are not paying to have them recycled, they are being paid for them.  PET Bottle exports to China have actually declined steadily from a 2008 high of over 57% to 16% as of 2017. Presumably significantly lower in 2018 and 2019.

 

Most plastic containers are not being thrown, and having to pay to recycle them is an unusual and rare situation.  Water bottles, laundry detergent bottles and the like are highly valued for their recycling content.

Our recycling efforts have been harming the ocean, adding significantly to the ocean plastic crisis. When they couldn’t recycle something they shoved it into the oceans as a common way of handling the material.

The Chinese have not been simply shoving plastic bottles into the ocean.  People all over China are drinking bottled water (and using plastic bags, and other plastic packaging, just as we do), but ironically, China – like much of Southeast Asia – does not have a widespread solid waste and recycling infrastructure, so the plastic gets thrown out, or littered.  The plastic gets washed by rain and storms into streams and rivers. 

 

Many studies have demonstrated that the vast majority of the ocean plastic is coming from streams and rivers in Asia.  “Most of it isn’t thrown off ships, she and her colleagues say, but is dumped carelessly on land or in rivers, mostly in Asia. It’s then blown or washed into the sea.”[1] Certainly not a case of plastic recyclers pushing plastic into the ocean.

In order for plastic containers – such as peanut butter jars – to be recycled they have to be tripled rinsed in hot water.

They shouldn’t be full of peanut butter, but the usual leftovers on the sides just isn’t a problem for recyclers. What is a problem are bottles full of liquids, half-full food containers, kitchen waste, and dirty diapers. 

Plastic lids from peanut butter jars are not recyclable and should always be thrown out.

Like plastic water bottles, the plastic used in plastic lids from peanut butter jars – and other food containers – is a high value plastic with a strong domestic recycling industry. 

If our plastic containers were perfectly clean China would buy them.

Whether a plastic container is perfectly clean or not, China is no longer accepting shipments of plastic for recycling.  And, the original issue was never dirty peanut butter jars, it was shipments of plastic that had high levels of non-plastic materials – such as cans, auto parts, and paper. 

You have to pay to recycle corrugated cardboard, so it usually gets thrown out.

If the cardboard is soaking wet then it is garbage. But as long as it’s not, like water bottles, this is a readily recyclable material – in the U.S. This has been true and continues to be true.  It is not being thrown out by recyclers or recycling programs.

Recyclables are piling up or being landfilled all over the U.S. There’s a very good chance that your recyclables are being landfilled.

When the China Sword was first announced there was certainly some stockpiling – and in some instances almost exclusively in the western U.S. – landfilling, this situation resolved in a few months and it is no longer true.  Recycling programs shifted where they were sending materials to domestic recyclers and found new buyers for the materials.

[1] Quote from Jenna Jambeck, a University of Georgia engineering professor, National Geographic, June 2018, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/06/plastic-planet-waste-pollution-trash-crisis/#close

Donation Received in Support of Recycling Market Development Research

NERC would like to thank and recognize the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority (HRRA),  for a generous donation in support of its recycling market development research. 

Call for Papers - the Science of PFAS

NEWMOA has partnered with NERC, the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC), the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), and others to organize a regional science conference on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The goals of the conference are to: 

  • Ensure that local, state, and federal action to address PFAS contamination is informed bythe most current and reliable science
  • Facilitate networking and information-sharing among key stakeholders on PFAS topics
  • Identify important gaps in the science and policy to help inform future research

The presentation and poster topics listed below under each track are suggestions only – consider submitting proposals for other PFAS topics (due September 27).

 Health Impacts & Environmental Behavior

  • Toxicology & human health effects
  • Risk communications strategies
  • Fate & transport of PFAS in the environment
  • Impacts on biota & wildlife
  • Bioaccumulation & impacts on the food chain
  • PFAS in leachate & groundwater
  • Interactions among air, land, & water quality impacts
  • Degradation products
  • Sources of PFAS in the environment
  • ITRC Fact Sheets

Treatment, Remediation, & Disposal

  • Drinking water & wastewater treatment systems
  • Effective remediation strategies
  • State & federal standard setting efforts
  • Disposal strategies for contaminated media & product collections, including incineration

PFAS Uses & Alternatives

  • Historic & current PFAS uses
  • Results of product testing
  • Alternatives assessments for AFFF
  • Alternatives assessments for PFAS in personal care products, apparel, & compostable food ware
  • Alternatives assessment for paper & paper products
  • Latest research on alternative short chain PFAS compounds
  • Alternatives for uses in manufacturing operations
  • State & federal policies to address PFAS uses & alternatives

 Environmental Sampling & Analysis

  • Results of recent testing of environmental media – drinking water, soil, groundwater, landfill leachate, biosolids, compost, surface water & WWTP discharges
  • Latest methods for testing drinking water
  • Methods for sampling/testing soils & biosolids
  • Methods for sampling/testing air releases
  • Methods for sampling/testing surface & ground water
  • Methods for testing products
  • Methods for testing food
  • Overcoming QA/QC challenges

Proposal abstracts should list the proposed session track; presentation title; brief abstract of what questions/topics will be addressed; and the presenter’s name, affiliation, and contact information. Presentations should be in PowerPoint and a PDF of each presentation will be posted on the conference webpage after the conference.

Submit a proposal for an individual presentation or a three-presentation session HERE. The submission deadline is Friday September 27, 2019.

For more information, contact Jennifer Griffith, NEWMOA.  

Implementing Best Management Practices for Food Waste Reduction, Organics, & Manure Management in Maryland

NERC recently completed its U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Utility Services funded project to engage stakeholders in rural and small communities in Maryland to implement best management practices for food waste reduction, organics, and manure management. The project was implemented in Allegany and Cecil Counties in Maryland.

Through the project, NERC worked with partners to develop and implement fourteen trainings in conjunction with eight events, involving an estimated 235 participants. Two webinars were conducted with 138 participants. NERC successfully engaged in five technical assistance projects in five participant communities.

Technical Assistance Projects

Westernport Elementary School - Food Recovery Hierarchy Implementation

Westernport Elementary School is a pre-K to 5th grade school in Westernport, Maryland. There are 254 students, 13 Teachers, and 34 support staff. The town of Westernport has a population of 1,888.

NERC held numerous onsite meetings with school staff, a compost training, and two cafeteria waste audits. NERC drafted a Cafeteria Waste Reduction Plan for the school. In the fall of 2018, it was agreed that the school would move forward with promotion of cafeteria “offer vs. serve” lunch choice to third thru fifth graders at the school; promotion of “zero waste” lunches; and composting one day per week with the third grade lunches. A “Parent Letter” drafted by NERC was sent home with students.

Composting during the Third Grade lunch was initiated on October 31, 2018. The third graders compost every Wednesday. Student “compost monitors” are chosen each week to assist other students and to transport the collected food scraps out to the compost bins. By the end of April, 170 pounds of cafeteria waste had been composted by the third graders.

On April 26, 2019, NERC returned to the school. In the morning the students examined their finished compost using hand lenses. The students looked for insects present in the compost. NERC engaged them in a question and answer discussion about composting. A second cafeteria waste audit was conducted during all lunch periods.

Through its waste reduction efforts, the school reduced its food waste 40.5%. The “offer vs. serve” program not only allowed the cafeteria waste to be reduced, the kitchen has reduced waste and costs by better planning and preparation.

Frostburg Grows - Onsite, Brush, Garden Trimmings, and Food Scrap Composting

Frostburg Grows is an incubator for innovative sustainable agriculture which addresses the triple bottom line—People, Planet, and Profit. Located just outside of Frostburg (population 8,075) on a closed mine, Frostburg Grows received grant funding to build three, large “hoop houses” for community gardens.  Due to lack of soil on the grounds, all gardening is done in raised beds. The site has an enclosed compost shed system, tools, and a small front loader for turning the compost.

NERC conducted several site visits and staff trainings in food scrap composting. Garden members brought their food scraps to the site for composting. NERC initiated a Frostburg Open House and Compost Workshop event held on June 7, 2018; 24 people attended. Frostburg Grows continues to compost garden trimmings and weeds from their Community Garden. The finished compost created during NERC’s project was used to top off their raised beds to start this growing season.

West Nottingham Academy and Kilby Farm - Advancing Model for Rural Food Waste Diversion to Farms

Located in Colora, West Nottingham Academy (WNA) has 130 students in 9th through 12th grade students; 70 percent of students live on campus, while 30 percent attend as day students from surrounding counties. About 40 percent of the WNA student body come from countries outside of the United States. Colora is an unincorporated community in western Cecil County with an estimated population of 2,400.

West Nottingham School has developed a partnership is with Kilby Farm and Creamery. Kilby Farm serves as an outdoor classroom for WNA students and provides internship opportunities for students.  The Farm also has a methane digester for processing manure from its 600-cow dairy operation. In 2017, Kilby Farm started accepting all of the food waste and soiled napkins from the WNA Dining Services to feed into their methane digester.  WNA students designed the schools food scrap collection program, in conjunction with the developed promotion (with assistance from Kilby Farm), and provided training and ongoing monitoring of the food scrap collection. Once per week the collected food scraps are transported by school staff and students to be tipped into the digester.

NERC worked with WNA to advance its model for food scrap diversion, including helping to organize two meetings of stakeholders to strategize on potential funding and options for promoting the project as a model for the region. NERC worked with WNA on a proposal to the USDA Farm to School for funding to support advancing the WNA/Kilby Farm model for food scrap diversion. Students and the Sustainability Coordinator worked with NERC to develop a project webinar - Closing the Loop: Waste to Wealth, Clean Energy, & Sustainable Rural Communities.

Deep Roots - Food Waste and Garden Trimmings Composting

In addition to serving as a homeless shelter for children and families in the community, Deep Roots strives to break the generational cycle of homelessness. Deep Roots is located on Clairvaux Farm in Earleville is an unincorporated community in Cecil County, with an estimated population of 3,479. 

Through its numerous visits to Deep Roots, NERC worked with various staff and residents to start kitchen food scrap composting and also composting of garden trimmings. NERC worked with the kitchen staff and resident helpers, along with several resident young people to learn about composting and under the guidance of the Youth Program leader, manage the yard trimmings composting and the food scrap composting. NERC compiled a Food Scraps Collection and Garden Trimmings Composting Tasks and a Compost Management Tasks

As a nonprofit, social service agency, Deep Roots struggles with money, being short-staffed, and the transitional nature of its residents. Nonetheless, the staff are dedicated to being more environmentally sustainable and providing a model of stewardship to the residents that live there.

Fairwinds Farm & Stables - Manure Management Technical Assistance

Fairwinds Farm & Stables is located in North East, a town in Cecil County with a population of 3,572. The farm has 27 horses, a donkey, a goat, pigeons, chickens, and several rabbits. The facility offers trail rides, pony rides, riding lessons, carriage or hay rides. Youth camps are hosted, as are weddings, birthday parties, and numerous other events.

Manure from all livestock is stockpiled. Some manure is spread on pasture on the farm; the remaining manure is sold, typically to mushroom growers. NERC staff met with the Fairwinds proprietors on several occasions to discuss manure storage and the potential for composting the farm’s manure. NERC also provided information about potential USDA funding options, along with details applying for the USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for potential funding for manure storage/composting pad and buck wall construction.

NERC arranged for a meeting between Fairwinds proprietors, District Conservationist (USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service) and NERC staff on April 22, 2019 to discuss the EQIP grant options for manure storage and/or composting (cement pad and buck walls), as well as fixing drainage areas around the farm and installing gutters. Funding is expected this summer.

Conclusion

With NERC’s involvement, the Allegany County Recycling Coordinator, was able to focus on food scrap diversion at home. NERC’s “mini” workshops and “Ask a Compost Expert” worked well in conjunction with the County’s compost bin sale, as well as the Farmer’s Market. Resident education of the importance of food scraps and how to manage food scraps through backyard composting is a way for rural and small town communities to divert a significant quantity of food scraps and to raise the awareness level of food scrap diversion throughout the communities.

The trainings held with the Master Gardeners in both Allegany and Cecil counties also served to spread awareness about food scrap composting and how to effectively and safely compost food scraps at home and in the community. Hopefully, this message will continue to be passed on as Master Gardeners work in their communities.

Project site partners were appreciative of NERC’s efforts and viewed the project as having helped them attain their goals to better manage their organic materials. The enthusiasm and dedication of the technical assistance site key staff to learning and implementing best management practices, along with training and organizing at both sites was invaluable in the success of their projects.

For more information contact Athena Lee Bradley, Projects Manager.

More Following NERC’s Social Media Message

The May 2019 NERC Bulletin featured an article titled Social Media & the NERC Message, in which the rapid growth of followers of NERC’s Facebook and Twitter platforms was documented. NERC’s Facebook page “regularly reports increases of page views, likes, and followers,” the article stated, while “the growth of @NERecycling on Twitter has been even more impressive.”

The dramatic growth experienced on both platforms over the past two years might have slowed a bit, but Facebook followers and engagements, and Twitter followers and retweets, continue at robust levels. The number of followers on Facebook hovers at around 800, while Twitter followers now number more than 1,900.

Of course, as the article in May observed, “None of the impressive numbers recounted here would mean much if they did not contribute to NERC’s mission of impactful dialogues on mutually important subjects.” With that contribution in mind, we decided to delve deeper into the analytics on both platforms, to try to determine the subjects with which our followers most often engage.

Posts linking to information supplied by NERC itself were generally well-received; over the past three weeks or so, the interest of readers was piqued by NERC’s call for applications for its 2019 Environmental Sustainability Leadership Award. A blog post countering a controversial NPR segment on the value of recycling, co-authored by NERC Executive Director Lynn Rubinstein, also found significant support on both Facebook and Twitter. A link to NERC’s upcoming webinar, on regulatory approaches for packaging in the United States, has already been seen more than 200 times on Twitter, despite having been up for just a few days.

On Twitter, the articles currently most popular, both in terms of impressions and engagement (the latter includes both likes and retweets), dealt with aspects of the plastics crisis. An article in Resource Recycling magazine describes how Trex, already the largest recycler of plastic bags in North America, plans to expand production of composite lumber products that contain 95% recycled material. An article in Newsweek reports that Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have severed ties with the Plastics Industry Association, “as they seek to dramatically reduce single-use plastics in their products and packaging.” A Reuters report on Google’s most recent sustainability measures also proved popular on NERC’s Twitter feed.

On Facebook, a Forbes article on an Irish teenager winning a Google Science Fair award (and $50,000) for his method for removing microplastics from water received the most views over the past few weeks. An entertaining read from the Tampa Bay Times on touring a local Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) was popular on Facebook as well, as was the aforementioned article on Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and the Plastics Industry Association. Fast Company’s report on a zero-waste restaurant in Helsinki gained many readers as well.

Clearly, global concerns over plastics pollution are shared by followers of NERC’s social media platforms; that this is so is not at all surprising, as it seems likely that solutions to the crisis will involve the contributions of the recycling community in which NERC plays an important role. Other high-profile issues, such as the circular economy, organics and sustainable agriculture, and corporate responsibility—either through product stewardship or other means—also receive significant attention.

The article back in May concluded, “NERC believes the increases (in social media followers) align with a resurgent commitment to the benefits to society that recycling and overall waste reduction bring.” That resurgent commitment is reflected in the renewed attention given to recycling issues in the media. NERC welcomes the opportunity to share some of the most important insights with its social media followers.

For more information, contract Robert Kropp.

NERC Board Revises Bylaws

In June of this year, the NERC Board revised the organization's bylaws to clarify some requirements, as well as to expand upon the opportunities for Advisory Member involvement in committees. 

Newly Posted

Report on Blended Commodity Value in the Northeast

NERC is actively involved in recycling market development in its 11-state region: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Last year, in partnership with the Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEWMOA), we formed a Regional Recycling Markets Development Committee.  The Committee determined that having regional information about the value of recyclable commodities would be extremely helpful for assessing regional market trends and would serve as an educational tool for promoting improved residential recycling and participation.  North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality has been doing a similar survey for many years.  The results have been invaluable to recyclers, MRFs, and also municipalities and state agencies. We anticipate the same benefits in our region and expect to conduct the survey, and report results and trends, on a quarterly basis.

Fifteen (15) publically-owned or operated MRFs in 10 states were surveyed in July 2019 for the period covering April – June, 2019.[1]  A report of the blended value of commodities marketed by the MRFs, as well as information about residuals, tipping fees, and relative percentages of materials marketed is now available.

We would like to recognize and thank RRS and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality for their technical assistance in support of this project.

For more information, contact Lynn Rubinstein, NERC.

[1] There are no MRFs in New Hampshire.

NERC's FY 2020 Operating Plan & Budget

NERC's fiscal year 2020 Operating Plan & Budget are now available on the NERC website.

NERC-NEWMOA Joint Strategic Action Plan Annual Report

In June 2017, the NERC and NEWMOA Boards of Directors entered into a Joint Strategic Action Plan to further action on matters of mutual concern. This first-of-its kind effort received national attention and commendation, including an in-depth article in Resource Recycling magazine. An Annual Report for fiscal year 2019 which chronicles the remarkable progress that has been made in the second year of the initiative is now available.

For more information, contact Lynn Rubinstein, NERC.

New Glass Resource

If you have ever been tasked with trying to figure out the best uses for post-consumer recycled glass, you now have a resource that can help—the Glass Recovery Hierarchy.  The Hierarchy prioritizes the common uses for glass including reuse, recycling and substitution for other raw materials. It also provides a snapshot of the environmental benefits of each use, as well as links to available Life-cycle Assessments. 

The Hierarchy is one of the glass resources developed by NERC’s Glass Committee.  Additional resources developed include:

For more information about the Hierarchy, contact Megan Pryor of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.  Megan is the Glass Committee Chair & a NERC Board Member. For any questions regarding NERC’s Glass Committee, contact Mary Ann Remolador, NERC’s Assistant Director & Event Organizer.

Bottle Bill Webinar Recording & Presentations Available

NERC presented the Bottle Bills—Benefits & Challenges webinar on July 17.  The webinar featured two presenters—Susan Collins, President of the Container Recycling Institute; and Chris Nelson, Supervising Environmental Analyst of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Environmental Protection. 

The webinar recording and presentations are available on NERC’s website.  Go to the Search for Resources page and then click on Webinars.

State Program Contact Information for NERC States - Updated

states Maine New Hampshire Vermont New York Pennsylvania Massachusetts Connecticut Rhode Island New Jersey Delaware New Hampshire Rhode Island Connecticut New Jersey Delaware Vermont Maryland

Each of NERC's member states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont) have "state pages" on the NERC website.

Among the information found on those pages is a link to current state agency program contact information for each state.  This information is updated annually and it is now current for 2018.

For more information, contact Lynn Rubinstein, NERC Executive Director.

State Updates

MassDEP 2019 Recycling Business Development Grant Program Application

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s Recycling Business Development Grant (RBDG) program is focused on providing assistance to recycling operations and activities in Massachusetts that will create sustainable markets for specifically targeted materials and products. The goal is to add value to municipal and business recycling and reuse efforts and encourage their recovery.

Eligible materials for 2019 grants are:

  1. Container glass – developing market outlets and uses for container glass sourced from MRFs or glass drop-off programs
  2. Comingled recyclables handled by MRFs – increasing capacity to handle or reduce contamination of mixed recyclable streams consisting of: paper, cardboard, and glass, metal and plastic containers
  3. Clean Gypsum Wallboard – beneficiation, processing, and recycling of clean wallboard
  4. Mattresses – dismantling and recycling of mattresses at a processing facility
  5. Furniture – dismantling and recycling or refurbishment and reuse
  6. Bulky Rigid and Mixed Plastics – recovering and processing bulky rigid plastics and mixed 3-7 plastics (not intended for single-resin streams)

All applications must be received by October 4, 2019 (5:00pm).

Find more information about this grant program and the application on the MassDEP’s Recycling Business Development Grant webpage.

Advisory Member updateS

The 2019 APR Plastics Recycling Web Seminar Education Series

Please join us for this series of webinars hosted by Walmart, and presented by The Association of Plastic Recyclers, discussing design for plastics recyclability and communicating the common messages within the Walmart Recyclability Playbook and the APR Design® Guide for Plastics Recyclability.

Walmart’s Sustainable Packaging Playbook and Walmart’s Recycling Playbook provide an overview of sustainable packaging best practices, and a deep dive resource specifically for suppliers interested in improving and innovating packaging while supporting recycling. The APR Design® Guide for Plastics Recyclability is published to help package design engineers at consumer brand companies and converters create packaging that is fully compatible with plastics recycling systems in North America.

HDPE and PP Packaging, Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 2:30 EDT

This session will provide an in depth overview of HDPE and PP packaging, uses, packaging components, and design features that may affect recyclability.

Click here to register.

Flexible Packaging (Bags / Wraps / Films), Thursday, October 10, 2019 at 2:30 EDT

This session will provide an in depth overview of flexible packaging (bags/wraps/films), uses, packaging components, and design features that may affect recyclability.

Click here to register.

Using More PCR, Thursday, October 31, 2019 at 2:30 EDT

This session will provide an in depth overview of how to incorporate postconsumer recycled content into your package, Walmart’s PCR goals and feasible % PCR by packaging format, as well as how to source and reduce costs of PCR. 

Click here to register.

PA ReMaDe Conference – Advancing Circular Economy

The Northeast Recycling Council is pleased to share with you that one of the many non-profit organizations of which we work with, the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center, is offering the PA ReMaDe Conference, themed Advancing Circular Economy. This is being held September 18-19, 2019 at the Historic Hotel Bethlehem, Bethlehem, PA.

You might ask, what is a circular economy? A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. – WRAP UK 

The PA ReMaDe Conference strives to connect people involved with recycling, materials management, and manufacturing to the opportunities of circular economy. Topics in finding the most purposeful circular uses of discarded materials and products will be discussed. Services and tools that expedite advancement of circularity will be presented. This includes creation of business growth impacts through reuse, repurposing, refurbishment, repair, remanufacture, reprocessing, and upcycle of materials and products. Session topics include:

  • Circularity of the Glass Industry
  • Circularity of the Fiber Industry
  • Organics Recycling: Nature’s Circular Economy
  • Circular Systems in Plastics Recovery
  • Life Cycle Analysis
  • EPA Sustainable Materials Management
  • Pennsylvania Showcase of Circularity – Learn from our manufacturers
  • Bringing the Global Circular Economy to our Neighborhood
  • Assistance Tools for Building a Circular Economy
  • Venture Investing, Building the Infrastructure of Circularity
  • How Consumer Brands are Leaders to Circular Economy
  • Does Sustainable Materials Management Bridge to a Circular Economy?
  • Advancing Circular Economics in Electronics Recovery

The keynote speaker of the PA ReMaDe Conference is Tom Szaky, CEO and founder of TerraCycle. Tom has worked to establish unique take back systems and recycled content product manufacturing in conjunction with major consumer brand companies, citizen-stakeholders, and governmental bodies leading to greater global circularity and producer responsibility. As founder and CEO of TerraCycle, Tom operates TerraCycle in 21 countries, working with some of the world’s largest brands, retailers and manufacturers to create national platforms to recycle products and packaging. Tom and TerraCycle have received hundreds of social, environmental and business awards and recognition from a range of organizations including the United Nations, World Economic Forum, Schwab Foundation, Fortune Magazine and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

A discounted room block is available until August 27, mention “Recycling Markets Center” for the discount. Registration, the conference packet, schedule, session summaries, and sponsorship options can be found at www.pennrmc.org. For detailed questions, please phone 717.948.6660 or email PAReMaDe@PennRMC.org.

PA ReMaDe – Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Development

Help Determine the State of Curbside Recycling in America

Help determine the State of Curbside Recycling in America! Our 2019 State of Curbside Recycling Survey is open for your input. Tell us about your challenges, policies, and program financing to help build support for a robust and resilient curbside recycling system in the United States.

Survey data will be shared with all of you in late Fall 2019 and will provide a critical glimpse into questions like: What is the average in-bound contamination rate? 
 
The greater the participation, the greater the power of this data. Let’s tell the story of the current recycling landscape. Complete the survey and be a part of this unique nationwide glimpse into the 2019 State of Curbside Recycling.

Take Survey Here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PZ89FZ7

Of General Interest

Survey Shows Manufacturers Used 2.2 Billion Pounds of Recycled Materials In Fiber Glass & Slag Wool Insulation

 The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) has announced the results of a recent survey of its members’ use of pre- and post-consumer recycled materials in insulation and acoustical products in 2018.  The survey includes data from both U.S. and Canadian manufacturing facilities. 

According to the survey, U.S. manufacturers used 2.2 billion pounds of recycled glass in the production of residential, commercial, and industrial thermal and acoustical insulation – roughly equivalent to the amount of Municipal Solid Waste generated by 1 million people in the U.S. in a year.

NAIMA Canada members together used 381 million pounds of recycled glass in the production of residential, commercial, industrial, and air handling thermal and acoustical insulation.

U.S. and Canadian facilities used more than 982 million pounds of recycled blast furnace slag in the production of thermal and acoustical insulation.  Since the industry’s recycling program began in 1992, NAIMA members’ plants have diverted an estimated 61.8 billion pounds of recycled materials from the waste stream.

 “Our industry is tremendously proud of the substantial use of recycled content in the production of energy saving insulation products,” said Curt Rich, President and CEO of NAIMA. “These products ultimately reduce building energy use and decrease our carbon footprint. Over the long term, the fiber glass and mineral wool insulation industry expects to continue using substantial amounts of recycled content in the production of insulation products.” 

While recycled content is just one indicator of a product’s environmental impact, the survey results illustrate the significant impact that an industry can have through the conscientious use of materials.  

For more information about the environmental benefits of fiberglass, rock wool, and slag wool, contact Stacy Fitzgerald-Redd and visit www.insulationinstitute.org.

Toolkit Presents State & Local Policy Solutions to Keep Food Waste Out of Landfills

The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, with support from the Center for EcoTechnology (CET), releases a toolkit on organic waste bans and their potential to reduce food waste and strengthen local economies.

(Cambridge, MA – July 15, 2019) Forty percent of food in the United States goes to waste–this amounts to $218 billion each year spent on food that is never eaten. The majority of this wasted food ends up in landfills, where it produces harmful greenhouse gases and contributes to states and localities running out of landfill capacity. Bans and Beyond: Designing and Implementing Organic Waste Bans and Mandatory Organics Recycling Laws, published by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) in partnership with the Center for EcoTechnology (CET), is a resource to advise states and localities looking to address food waste through policy.

Organic waste bans are as an innovative policy solution to divert food waste from landfills. These policies limit the amount of organic waste, including food waste, that businesses and individuals can dispose of in landfills. Organic waste bans thus drive more sustainable practices, such as food waste prevention, food donation, sending food scraps to animal feed operations, or sending food waste to composting or anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities. Just ten years ago, these policies were largely unheard of; today, six states and seven municipalities have passed organic waste bans.

“Food waste takes up space in landfills, contributes to climate change, and is a drain on the economy,” says Emily Broad Leib, Director of FLPC. “Organic waste bans are one of the best tools we have seen that states and localities can use to transform business practices and drive the development of food waste recycling infrastructure.”

Bans and Beyond provides the first in-depth analysis of all thirteen existing state and local organic waste bans policies. Drawing on these examples, the toolkit walks readers through factors to consider in pursuing similar policies in their own state or locality. The toolkit also explores nine other categories of policies and programs–such as permitting and zoning regulations for organics recycling facilities, grants to support food waste reduction projects, and policies to create markets for biogas and compost–that can enhance the impact of an organic waste ban or advance food waste reduction and diversion independently.

“Over the years, we’ve seen firsthand how waste bans and the other policies and programs discussed in the toolkit can drive innovation and significantly reduce wasted food,” says John Majercak, President of CET. “The resulting impact is a big win for communities, regional economies, and the environment.”

The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) serves partner organizations and communities by providing guidance on cutting-edge food system issues, while engaging law students in the practice of food law and policy. Specifically, FLPC focuses on increasing access to healthy foods, supporting sustainable production and regional food systems, and reducing waste of healthy, wholesome food. For more information, visit http://www.chlpi.org/flpc/.

The Center for EcoTechnology (CET) helps people and businesses save energy and reduce waste. CET acts as a catalyst to accelerate the development of a vibrant marketplace to divert wasted food from the commercial and institutional sectors. CET offers program design and implementation services, as well as information and advice, nationally. For more information visit https://wastedfood.cetonline.org/.