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Contact: Mary Ann Remolador,, 802-254-3636
Date: April 27, 2021

Spring Conference—Reframing Recycling in 2021—Featured Dynamic Presentations & Discussions

Presenters and attendees from 27 states, the District of Columbia, three Canadian Provinces, and Germany participated in NERC’s Spring Conference on March 30 – 31.  The Keynote Panel on Day One, with  Peter Hargreave, President of Policy Integrity Inc.; Sara-Emmanuelle Dubois, President & Founder of NovAxia Inc; and Pierre Benabidès, Senior Consultant of Lichens Recyclability kicked off the Conference with insights into the Canadian experience of understanding and choosing the right Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) models. The session delved into the complexities of EPR and the differences present in the US that will impact states' decisions for EPR. 

Day One continued with a session about setting minimum recycled content requirements with Dan Felton, Executive Director, Ameripen; Elizabeth Balkan, Director of Reloop North America, Reloop Platform; and Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director, National Stewardship Action Council.  Felton focused on identifying a realistic picture of existing and potential supply and demand of materials when setting requirements.  Stimulating investment, providing economic incentive, and developing effective collection strategies were some of the key points made by Balkan. Sanborn provided a deep dive into California's successes into setting minimum recycled content requirements.

The day ended with a session about recycling markets. Alasdair K. Carmichael, Program Director of NAPCOR provided an outlook on recycled PET markets and capacity to meet demand.  The session also focused on the role of secondary sorting facilities to extract more resources to supply material hungry markets with Kim Holmes, Owner & Principal Consultant, 4R Sustainability; and Scott Farling, VP of Business Development and Research,  Titus MRF Services

Day Two began with an in-depth discussion about compostable packaging with Olga Kachook, Senior Manager of Sustainable Packaging Coalition; Nora Goldstein, Editor of BioCycle CONNECT; and Carla Castagnero, President of Agrecycle.  The session approached compostable packaging from different angles—Kachook focused on the key role and value of compostable packaging in a circular economy, working through the reluctance of composters to accept compostables into their operations was the topic delivered by Goldstein, and Castagnero provided first-hand experience of accepting compostables in her company's organics mix.    

Following was a session about refillable beverage containers.  Details about Germany's long-running program were presented by Tobias Bielenstein, Chief Operating Officer of Refillable Working Group Germany (Arbeitskreis Mehrweg GbR).  Jules Bailey, Chief Stewardship Officer of Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative proceeded with a breakdown of Oregon's refillables.  The session continued with Caren McNamara, FounderEO of Conscious Container laying out the roll of refillables in a circular economy and for creating sustainable glass packaging. 

The Conference wrapped up with US EPR updates for mattresses, paint, and electronics. Marie Clarke, VP of Policy and Government Affairs of the Mattress Recycling Council spoke about existing mattress programs in California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, as well as legislative and stakeholder interest in other states. Details of paint EPR programs was discussed with Laura Honis, Connecticut and Rhode Island Programs Manager, and John Hurd, Vermont and Maine Program Manager of PaintCare.  The session wrapped up with Jason Linnell, Executive Director of the National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER) presenting updates about electronics recycling programs throughout the country, including: similarities and differences in legislation, and successes and challenges in managing the programs.

Speaker bios and Conference presentations are available in NERC’s Conference Archives. The Conference Virtual Sponsor Exhibit Hall is full of resources to download and will be  available through December 31.