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NRC News and Events

December 29, 2021

Special Feature: Guest Contribution

Dual Stream: Contending Approaches to Recycling in the US
By Neil Seldman and Susan Kinsella

Since 2000, US investments in single-stream recycling collection and processing systems have dominated the landscape, with leading industry analysts declaring that “the future of US recycling is a five-letter word: C H I N A”. Yet, current market shifts that now require ‘clean stream’ materials are redirecting attention to dual-stream recycling, which advocates believe results in cleaner materials and more, better recycling at lower costs.

US recycling has staged a remarkable comeback since the loss of Chinese (and other) export markets in 2018 due to China’s National Sword policy. In addition to the growth of composting, an estimated $5 billion in private sector investment has expanded domestic end-use capacity in paper, plastic and electronic scrap. Jurisdictions have taken direct control over facilities and marketing, and state ‘recycling market development’ agency programs are expanding. Enthusiasm for minimum recycled content, bottle bills, reversion to dual stream collection and processing, unit pricing, right to repair, product and disposal bans have proliferated, and prices for secondary materials have rebounded.

With infrastructure investment funds from federal legislation expected to reach $16-17 billion in the next decade could, according to both The Recycling Partnership and the National Recycling Coalition, attention to gathering past data, analyzing it with fresh eyes and putting lessons to work is imperative to achieving Zero Waste.

Read the full article
*Dr. Neil Seldman, founding member of the National Recycling Coalition and Director of the Institute for Self-Reliance’s Waste to Wealth Initiative, which seeks to build the zero waste economy and expose the risks of corporate control of the waste sector, has partnered with Susan Kinsella, former director of Conservatree Paper Company and current Executive Director of the Recycling Archives Project, for an in-depth article exploring recycling history in the US which has led to current pitfalls which they believe could be overcome with increased support for dual-stream recycling collection, resulting in cleaner materials and more materials actually being recycled.

NRC Board of Directors Election Results

Thank you for participating in NRC's annual election process in November. We are pleased to introduce you to our incoming Board of Directors and newly elected officers.

Newly Elected Board Members for 2020-2023 Term
Rick Anthony, Zero Waste Professional
Cheryl Coleman, VP of Sustainability, ISRI
Mary McClellan, Executive Director, Carolina Recycling Association
Arley Owens, Executive Director, Ohio Recycling Coalition

Click here for information & updates

NRC Elects 2022 Board Officers

At the November monthly meeting of the board of the National Recycling Coalition, Lisa Skumatz was re-elected as NRC Chair, Bob Gedert was re-elected as NRC President and Marialyce Pedersen was re-elected as NRC Secretary. Leslie Lukacs was elected as NRC Vice President.

Lisa Skumatz will also serve as interim NRC Treasurer, following longtime Treasurer Susan Collins’ departure. Current Board Members Wayne Gjerde and Mary McClellan were elected as At-Large Board Officers who will provide support as needed for NRC projects throughout the year.

Departing NRC board members include Stephen Bantillo, Fran McPoland, Susan Collins, Bill Turley, Lynn Rubinstein, Nina Butler, Chantal Fryer, Holly Arthur, and Lisa Rider. NRC President Gedert thanked each of these individuals for their dedication and service, and said he hopes they will continue to serve the NRC as committee members, supporting the NRC’s mission and goals into the future.

Click here for information & updates

NRC Seeks Members Interested in Treasurer Position

The NRC is actively seeking a new Treasurer from among State Recycling Organizations and general members, and while previous treasurer experience is appreciated, it is not required. Both NRC’s departing Treasurer Susan Collins and previous Treasurer Marjie Griek have agreed to work with and train the new Treasurer. The NRC ongoingly employs a year-round paid bookkeeper who supports the Board Treasurer. Contact Bob Gedert if interested!
Click here for information & updates

Executive Order Includes Attention to Reducing Waste

Submitted by NRC Member Jeremy Drake, STRATEGY zero waste solutions

“In order to reestablish the Federal Government as a leader in sustainability,” on December 8, US President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability. It contains several sections of particular interest to the NRC community:

• Sec. 207. Reducing Waste and Pollution. Each agency shall minimize waste, including the generation of wastes requiring treatment and disposal; advance pollution prevention; support markets for recycled products; and promote a transition to a circular economy, as defined in section 2 of the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act (Public Law 116-224), by annually diverting from landfills at least 50 percent of non-hazardous solid waste, including food and compostable material, and construction and demolition waste and debris by fiscal year 2025; and 75 percent by fiscal year 2030.

• Sec. 510. Additional Guidance and Instructions for Agencies. (a) The Director of OMB, in coordination with the Chair of CEQ and the National Climate Advisor, shall issue a memorandum for agencies that provides direction on immediate actions and further requirements to meet the policies and goals of this order
(b) To assist agencies in complying with this order, the Chair of CEQ, in consultation with the Director of OMB, shall (i) within 120 days of the date of this order, issue and, as needed, update implementing guidance for agencies that provide directions, strategies, and recommended actions to meet the policies and goals of this order.
Additional sustainability policy guidance can be found in the complete document via the link provided. The NRC newsletter team will continue to track and report on the progress of this relevant Executive Order.
Click here for information & updates

Truth In Labeling Webinar

February 9, 2022
10:30-11:30 am PST / 1:30-2:30 pm EST

One of the hot topics in recycling in recent years has been concern about the labelling of products and packaging as recyclable when those products are not truly recyclable. That contributes significantly to problems that recycling programs have in getting residents and businesses to recycle right. This webinar will highlight two new California Truth in Labeling laws: SB 343 Truth in Recycling Labeling Law that will no longer allow manufacturers to put the “chasing arrows” recycling symbol on items that aren’t actually recyclable in California. AB 1201 Labeling of Compostability and Biodegradability Law prohibits offering for sale a product that is labeled as “compostable”. “home compostable”, “biodegradable,” “degradable,” or “decomposable,” unless, at the time of sale or offering for sale, the product meets specifications or has specified certifications. This webinar will also highlight the proposed Federal bill HR 4602: Wastewater Infrastructure Pollution Prevention and Environmental Safety Act (WIPPES Act) as another example of legislation focused on Truth in Labeling. The WIPPES Act would require manufacturers of non-flushable wet wipes to display clearly and prominently a “DO NOT FLUSH” label on their packaging.

Needed: National Container Deposit Legislation

by Marialyce Pedersen, NRC Secretary and Board Member

Recyclers are lauding November’s Can Manufacturers Institute announcement of an ambitious new goal: to achieve a 70 percent aluminum beverage can recycling rate by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050. NRC Board Member and Container Recycling Institute (CRI) President Susan Collins supports the targets, but is quick to add that “the goals can only be achieved with a strong national deposit law.”

To support a unified, national beverage container recycling law, CRI and other allies have compiled information online for use by fellow advocates, the Bottle Bill Resource Guide. NRC leaders, along with representatives from Zero Waste USA, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and the National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC), are also crafting a standalone national bottle recycling bill, utilizing language to establish a 10-cent bottle deposit rate from The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, which was reintroduced in March.

Read the full story

Celebrating a Successful National Zero Waste Conference

While not attending conferences in person for several years has been tough for most, the ease (and environmental benefits) of virtual travel enabled more than 450 participants and an incredible list of 100+ speakers with demonstrated expertise and leadership in zero waste to come “together” on Dec. 8th and 9thfor a very successful 2021 National Zero Waste Conference, organized by Zero Waste USA and the NRC.

Read conference highlights

Affiliate News: Circular Indiana!

INDIANAPOLIS—This America Recycles Day, the Indiana Recycling Coalition announced its new name, Circular Indiana, and revealed its updated identity and website, As Circular Indiana, the organization is expanding beyond recycling, capturing opportunities, and aligning itself with the changing landscape of sustainable materials management.

Learn more about Circular Indiana

Affiliate Spotlight: Illinois Recycling Foundation

The Illinois Recycling Association (IRA) began in 1980 and was considered a 501c6 non-profit by the IRS at that time as there was a great deal of advocacy being done to establish recycling drop-off and curbside programs. However, from the beginning the Association was disappointed not to be a 501c3 with the ability to apply for grants to conduct our educational efforts. Instead, it has relied on membership dues, conference sponsorships and exhibit fees to fund the organization. Each year the State of Illinois Department of Commerce provided substantial funds to support the organization but this also came with requirements that limited additional fundraising for various efforts.

In 2014 the members approved a change in the by-laws allowing the organization to create a 501c3 in order to seek grants, allow individual members to write off their fees and business sponsors to make the best use of their tax write-offs. Shortly thereafter, the Governor eliminated the funds available for all recycling efforts at the State level from the Department of Commerce. Obviously this impacted IRA financially. In 2020, after several years of struggles, it was able to secure approval from the IRS for the sister organization to exist.

Nearly all the Board Members of the IRA moved over to the newly created Illinois Recycling Foundation (IRF). A few were seated on both the IRA and IRF and one, the former President, stayed with IRA as the President but did not join the Board of the IRF. In addition, new members were added to the IRA Board that were specifically interested pursuing legislation.

The IRA decided to hire a lobbyist and pursue a correction to the Construction and Demolition industry laws in Illinois. Over the course of the first year, this effort proved to be an enormous success. It resulted in far more insight into the legislative process, information was disseminated through the IRF to those members that moved over to IRF (nearly all members). Lastly, and most importantly, the new bill our lobbyist created, received hearings, was compromised and passed, signed in August by the new Governor.

IRF, for its part, has increased outreach and engagement, offering a variety of webinars, an in-person tour of a C&D recycling facility and continued to provide monthly newsletters. Success may be also measured by the increase it has seen in new members.

Learn more about IRF

EPA National Recycling Strategy

Natural resource extraction and processing account for approximately half of global greenhouse gas emissions. How we extract, use, and dispose of these resources can also affect already vulnerable communities disproportionately. A circular economy approach is essential to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and for ensuring communities do not bear the environmental impacts of natural resource use. A circular economy approach reduces materials use, redesigns materials to be less resource intensive, and recaptures “waste” as a resource that can serve as feedstock to manufacture new materials and products.

EPA is developing a series of strategies to build a circular economy for all. The first part of this series is the National Recycling Strategy, which identifies actions to address challenges facing the U.S. municipal solid waste recycling system. EPA is seeking partners to implement these actions to create a stronger, more resilient, and more cost-effective domestic recycling system.

Learn more from the EPA

Congratulations to Our 2021 NRC Award Recipients

On Thursday, November 4, 2021, The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) honored their national recycling awards recipients at their Virtual 2021 Annual National Recycling Congress. The awards were digitally presented to the winners.

The annual awards program is designed to honor and recognize outstanding individuals, programs, and organizations around the country, both for their achievements, and to serve as a model and a resource for learning for NRC members. Award categories recognize outstanding programs in for-profit businesses, higher education, non-profit organizations, recycling organizations, diversion innovation, and community / governmental programs, as well as awards for outstanding emerging leader and lifetime achievement.

Read about Award Recipients

Murray J. Fox Scholarship 2021 Recipients

Three outstanding college students from around the country are recipients of this year's Murray J. Fox Scholarships, offered through the National Recycling Coalition. These students will receive $2,000 scholarships towards their education, registration for the National Recycling Congress, as well as membership in the National Recycling Coalition. This year's funding focused on advancing students' academic and professional interests in social justice aspects of the recycling industry.

The Murray J. Fox Scholarship Fund was created in 1994 to honor one of the founding members of the National Recycling Coalition through an endowment to continue his legacy of fostering future leaders. Since then, dozens of students have benefited from his support. Many are making valuable contributions in the industry. A tribute to him is posted at the NRC’s Campus Council web page.

The NRC congratulates these students on their awards and welcomes them to the Coalition.
Read about our scholarship recipients
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