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Letter to Membership regarding NRC’s response on the China Trade Restrictions.
Letter sent to the WTO on behalf of the NRC.
To: NRC Members
On July 18, 2017, China notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of its intent to ban the import of certain scrap materials by year end.
FOCUS ON QUALITY
The discussion evolving around the China restrictions of prohibitives and contaminants requires a focus on quality. Such concerns also involve American MRFs as they attempt to meet bale international shipping standards. The ISRI standards are the quality standards that American MRFs rely upon to meet their business needs. However, local recycling collection programs often are unfamiliar with these quality concerns.
Education Quality: All of our local education programs could be re-tuned to empathize quality control. Residents have been trained to recycle as much as possible, sometimes to the extent of “when in doubt, throw it in the recycle bin.” This push for quantity may be over-riding the quality needs of our recycling industry. Retooling the local education programs for quality is a great start toward addressing the trade barriers we are faced with today.
Collection Quality: Local collection programs around the US have moved primarily to single-stream recycling collection through traditional trash collection vehicles. As such, the collection of recyclables is compromised to some degree through compaction and full mixture of all commodities. It is time for our collection programs to focus on quality of materials as they are delivered to the local MRF. This may involve the search for higher quality collection vehicles, the consideration of separate collection for cross-contaminate materials, and the reduction of compaction on recycling vehicles.
MRF Quality: The brunt of the international shipping restrictions lies on the MRF operator, thus the focus on quality is front and center at your local MRF. You may have noticed resistance from your local MRF operator in regards to adding new potential curbside recyclables, as adding to the mix adds complexity to the contamination equation. As residuals are defined through composition studies, some of the residual quality concerns are sourced from residents, some from collection compaction, and some from MRF processing quality issues. Yet, it’s the MRF operator that has the responsibility to market the material received from the community. It’s a community wide issue that requires community wide attention toward quality.
REBUILDING AMERICA’S RECYCLING INDUSTRY
As the recyclables we collect are commodities, they are raw material in lieu of virgin materials for manufacturing. The Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) estimates that more than 40% of manufacturers’ raw material needs around the world are met through the recycling of obsolete, off-spec, and end-of-life products and materials. The added value through recycling is directly related to the investment in quality collection and quality processing. In essence, we recyclers are generating the feedstock material for industries to make new products and packaging. We may be focused today on feeding China’s industrial production system, but perhaps we should refocus our attention on America’s recycling industry.
As I previously stated in an editorial on June 20, 2017 in Resource Recycling Magazine, the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) strongly supports efforts to invest and improve our country’s aging infrastructure. The recycling industry particularly needs a 21st-century transportation system to efficiently transport raw materials and feedstocks to manufacturers throughout the nation and the globe, including increased capacity and investment in all modes of transportation, covering rail, surface and waterways. All infrastructure projects could generate far more jobs from the reuse and recycling of buildings and roads and the use of recycled and recyclable materials wherever economically and technologically possible (for example, use of rubberized asphalt in road construction and use of rebar from ferrous scrap).
NRC also believes that investing in American recycling infrastructure would provide an excellent return on investment and leveraging of federal funds. Support of American recycling infrastructure would enable America to bring home recycling jobs from overseas, and dramatically expand the three-quarters of a million jobs and tens of billions of dollars already occurring in economic activity. Instead of shipping half of all recovered recyclables to overseas markets, a refreshed recycling infrastructure will support new American end markets, manufacturers and businesses creating closed loop material streams and lower transportation costs.
Today’s rapidly evolving waste stream requires an upgraded recycling infrastructure from collection to processing to manufacturing. Recycling industry experts note that the “evolving ton” reflects the light-weighting of PET containers, a significant reduction in newspaper in the consumer stream and a significant uptick in old corrugated containers (OCC) known as the “Amazon Effect” due to internet sales and home delivery. Single-stream materials recovery facilities (MRFs) that service residential communities were not designed for these consumer shifts and are in need of redesign and expanded capacity. End-users and remanufacturers also need to reflect these consumer shifts. The “evolving ton” creates pressure points throughout the value chain from consumer product redesign and sales all the way through the recycling system, requiring a full upscaling of the American recycling infrastructure. Investing in America’s recycling infrastructure is an investment in American jobs, in the American economy and in reducing costs for businesses that will provide an excellent return for the investment of federal, state and local funds.
INCREASE RECYCLING ECONOMIC IMPACT IN YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY
Consider creating a local recycling incubator research lab at your local university, through research grant funds. Innovation can advance recycling to create a new American leadership on the international recycling stage. We are challenged with gaining higher diversion and higher quality, at a low collection and processing cost. Can we invest in the research toward collection changes and MRF processes to gain high quality recyclables?
Talk to your local economic development office about locating recycling jobs to your community. Note the linkage between local economic development and the recycling circular economy. Note the growing green job network, the ability to control the end destination of your recyclables by placement of end markets in your own community. Recycling remanufacturing offers a new and growing tax base, clean manufacturing, stable employment opportunities, and the synergies of locating processers and end users in the same proximity to the reduce carbon footprint of your recycling program.
Recycling needs your help! Donate here on Giving Tuesday for a better tomorrow. We are the national voice for recycling, so please support us today. Together we are recycling!
We are the voice for recycling. The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) is a national non-profit recycling association and advocate positioned to assist the recycling industry and sustainability-minded corporations to weather unpredictable and damaging conditions that loom in the recyclable-commodities markets. We represent every sector of the recycling industry from individuals, to local governments, non-profits and private haulers and manufacturers. Our organization advocates for collaboration between these sectors to ensure robust markets and a quality supply of those materials.
The recycling industry is at a critical turning point. In 2016 mainland China imported approximately 16.2 million tons of recyclable materials from the United States, earning U.S. companies, governments, and citizens over $5 billion. In early 2017, China issued a notification with the World Trade Organization to severely limit recyclable materials entering China. For over four decades, our quest has been to bring all sectors of the industry together, to enhance the future of recycling. These recent actions by the Chinese government means domestic markets need to be reinvigorated – NRC needs your help to do that!
We are committed to the future of recycling. NRC recently hired a new Executive Director, who will accelerate and elevate the industry for you and for future generations for a stronger recycling economy and a better environment. With combined contributions from donors like you, we will deliver workshops and provide assistance to recyclers throughout the U.S. to enhance recycling operations and find alternative destinations for sending materials to be remanufactured.
Donate today. With your generous contribution, the NRC will work at a grass-roots level with local communities, recycling trade organizations, and manufacturers to help prove our nation’s resilience and forge new economic markets for recyclables in the US.
How did the NRC celebrate America Recycles Day this year? Click Here for a full list of ARD events organized and hosted by NRC Board Members!
America Recycles Day (ARD), an initiative of Keep America Beautiful, is a nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling efforts in the United States. For the past 20 years, thousands of local event organizers mobilize throughout their community to educate friends, colleagues and classmates about recycling on or around Nov. 15.
For Immediate Release: September 5, 2017
Contact: Stephen M Bantillo, Executive Vice President, National Recycling Coalition 916-242-8287, [email protected]
The National Recycling Coalition expressed deep sympathy and respect for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, and called for government officials to employ the most environmentally and ethically responsible disposal of the storm debris materials, especially recycling and reuse.
“The NRC recognizes the crisis for the residents and businesses is—as it should be— everyone’s focus of the initial recovery efforts. However, as we’ve learned from Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, the next stages must involve a restoration of the infrastructure, which by necessity includes appropriately dealing with the millions of tons of debris. There is an opportunity to recover some of the material if proper steps are taken in the recovery process,” says Bob Gedert, NRC President.
Among the possibilities for recycling are huge piles of vegetative debris, as well as concrete and metal. There is a recycling infrastructure in place to handle that process. But the NRC strongly opposes the use of open air burning to dispose of debris, as has been done with previous disasters. That method released millions of pounds of toxins into the air, which has long-term deleterious health impacts on the already affected populace.
NRC has established a Hurricane Harvey Task Force to engage in assistance with flood related materials management. NRC will be working with various partners including the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Cooperative Teamwork and Recycling Assistance (CTRA), Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), NRC trade association member Construction and Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA) and numerous others on effective, environmentally, and ethically sound recovery of hurricane debris.
About the National Recycling Coalition (NRC): The National Recycling Coalition is a non‐profit organization focused on promoting and enhancing materials management in North America, with a network of more than 6,000 members extending across waste reduction, reuse, composting and recycling. For 40 years, NRC has been a leader in driving education and policy around recycling.
For Immediate Release: August 30, 2017
Minneapolis, MN – The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) is proud to announce the election of ten members to the NRC Board of Directors. Elections for the Board were held during the 2017 Resource Recycling Conference in Minneapolis, MN.
The new and re-elected Board Members, listed below, will each serve 3-year terms:
The recently voted-in individuals join the following active members:
The NRC wants to thank the following members that are leaving the Board:
Ex-officio members include Michele Nestor, Recycling Organizations Council (ROC)-chair, and honorary lifetime members Cliff Case of Carter, Ledyard & Milburn, LLC, Murray Fox with i-ROC, Bill Heenan, Mark Lichtenstein, Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Sustainability at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and Gary Liss, Zero-Waste Consultant, Gary Liss & Associates. Officers will be elected at the next in-person Board meeting today, August 30, 2017 during the 2017 Resource Recycling Conference
“I am so thrilled with the election of these candidates to carry on the great work that the NRC is doing” said NRC President, Bob Gedert.
For more information contact NRC Staff at [email protected]