Newman’s Own Holiday Fundraising Challenge

This year, NRC is participating in a special Newman’s Own $500,000 Challenge Holiday Fundraiser.

Join the team, share your story, and create your own fundraising page to help NRC reach it’s $60,000 goal before January 2, 2018!

Donate today

Support NRC and support recycling.
Together, We Are Recycling!

Thank you for your support of the National Recycling Coalition!

Letter to Membership regarding NRC’s response on the China Trade Restrictions

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

From: Bob Gedert, President, National Recycling Coalition
Marjorie Griek, Executive Director, National Recycling Coalition
Subject: Response from the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) to its members regarding the China Trade Restrictions of Secondary Materials prepared for Recycling

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.

On September 13, 2017: draft revised “GB 16487” Environmental Protection Control Standards for Imported Solid Wastes as Raw Materials, with further restrictions on allowable prohibitives.
On November 15, in a series of eleven filings with the WTO, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection proposed adopting new limitations of allowable prohibitives in materials being shipped into China.
The NRC has issued two responses to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in protest of the restrictions placed by China on imports of recycles shipped from US ports. The NRC objections are based on the following:
  • China’s declaration to prohibit the importation of solid waste is based on improper terminology and a presentation that secondary materials prepared as raw material for recycling is categorized as waste distorts the environmental claims issued by China. WE request WTO to utilize internationally accepted definitions for trade negotiations, including the NRC definition of recycling.
  • Quality standards should be set on already established internally acceptable industry standards, such as the standardization guide for bale quality in the ISRI standard commodities and scrap market specifications.  These standards are embraced and utilized by recycling markets within North America and through ISRI member companies in at least 34 countries globally. The NRC requests  the WTO for consideration of utilizing the standards of bale quality utilizing these global ISRI adopted standards as a basis for resolving quality issues with China’s GB 16487 claim on allowable prohibitives.
  • The NRC also request the WTO to impose an extension of time for any import restrictions, as the sharp deadline of March 1, 2018 cannot be reflected with significant operational changes in the US recycling industry. The NRC requests that WTO engage between the parties involved as a arbitrator.
NRC believes building, expanding and improving infrastructure in the recycling sectors in both the US and China will greatly benefit the environment and the economy in both countries. In the US, fundamental core changes are needed to ensure that this industry will be less subject to the vagaries of other nations and commodity prices. Using a focused systems approach and working together as an international industry, we could work to stabilize the market. However, this is a long-term solution and one that will simply not meet a March 1, 2018 deadline for reducing prohibitives in recyclables.
The NRC calls upon its members to address the China trade barriers with the following actions:
  1. Focus on Quality
  2. Focus on Rebuilding America’s Recycling Industry
  3. Focus on Increasing the Recycling Economic Impact in our Local Communities
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.
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.
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.
We ask our NRC members to focus on delivering quality recyclables to the local MRFs, and seek local Investment in the American recycling infrastructure – in your local community!

Today is Giving Tuesday

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.

Thank you for your support of the National Recycling Coalition!

America Recycles Day – What did you do?

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!

What did you do to celebrate America Recycles Day?

Share your events with the NRC by connecting via Facebook or Twitter (@nrcrecycles)!!


America Recycles Day – How Can YOU Get Involved?

Event Date: November 15, 2017

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.

One of the biggest barriers to recycling is knowing what items can (and cannot) be recycled.  In honor of America Recycles Day 2017, the National Recycling Coalition, is working with Keep America Beautiful (KAB) to promote and spread awareness of what can and cannot be recycled. We invite you to plan your own ARD event by taking advantage of the wide variety of tools and resources available to make event planning easy and impactful. Once planned, register your event so it is officially part of the national network of America Recycles Day events!
“In our most recent survey, 78% of participants indicated they want more information about what to recycle.  America Recycles Day provides the opportunity to do just that and to make recycling a common practice every day of the year,” said Brenda Pulley, senior vice president, recycling, Keep America Beautiful. “We invite you to host an event within your community, inviting your family and friends from work, school, and your neighborhood to participate in America Recycles Day and to take the #BeRecycled Pledge in a collective national effort to improve recycling in our country.”
Events can occur at any time during the fall leading into the official America Recycles Day celebration on Wednesday, Nov. 15.   Events can be as small as an exhibit in front of a retail location, a bill insert to your community residents on what can be recycled or as large as a collection event for the entire community.  What is important is spreading the word about the recycling Dos and Don’ts in your community!
Additionally, as part of the America Recycles Day campaign, we encourage you to invite your network to join the movement by taking the #BeRecycled Pledge. This pledge is a promise to actively choose living a recycled lifestyle by committing to “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle and Buy Recycled.” in all aspects of daily life.
Learn more about America Recycles Day.
For questions, contact Isaac Nicholson via email or 202-688-0604.

Demo C&D Post 2

Demo C&D Post 2 – Description and Document can be added here

Can use Gallery or standard media option.


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. 


National Recycling Coalition Announces 2017-2018 Board of Directors

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:

  • Mick Barry, President, Mid America Recycling and Managing Partner, M2B2
  • Barbara Eckstrom, Director of Recycling and Materials Management, Tompkins County
  • Wayne Gjerde, Recycling Market Development Coordinator, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • Susan Gordon, Environmental Program Manager (Waste Reduction & Recycling), City of Fort Collins, CO
  • Leslie Lukacs, Director of Zero Waste, SCS Engineers
  • Kerrin O’Brien, Executive Director, Michigan Recycling Coalition
  • Sarah Pierpont, Executive Director, New Mexico Recycling Coalition
  • Charlotte Pitt, Manager, City and County of Denver
  • Antonio “Tony” Rios, Executive Director/President, Puerto Rico Solid Waste Authority/ Coalición de Reciclaje de Puerto Rico
  • Justin Stockdale, Regional Director, Pennsylvania Resources Council

The recently voted-in individuals join the following active members:

  • Susan Attridge, Director of Recycling, City of Buffalo, Department of Public Works, Parks and Streets
  • Stephen Bantillo, Executive Director, Recycling Certification Institute
  • Robert J. Bylone, Jr., Executive Director and President, Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center
  • Maggie Clarke, Zero Waste Consultant, Maggie Clarke Environmental
  • George Dreckmann, Strategic Initiatives Coordinator, City of Madison, WI- Streets Division, retired
  • MaryEllen Etienne, President, Reuse International
  • Bob Gedert, Affiliate Senior Consultant, Resource Recycling Systems
  • Carey Hamilton, Executive Director, Indiana Recycling Coalition
  • Brent Hildebrand, VP Operations, Alpine Recycling and Waste
  • David Keeling, Director of Recycling, American Iron and Steel
  • Maite Quinn, Business Development and Marketing Manager, Sims Municipal Recycling
  • Lisa A. Skumatz, Principal Consultant/Research, Skumatz Economic Research Associates, and non-profit Econservation Institute
  • Robin Wiener, President, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries
  • Melissa Young, Assistant Director, Syracuse University Center for Sustainable Community Solutions

The NRC wants to thank the following members that are leaving the Board:

  • Gary Bilbro, General Manager, Key Energy LLC
  • Jack DeBell, Development Director, University of Colorado Recycling
  • John Frederick, Executive Director, Intermunicipal Relations Committee
  • Juri Freeman, Sr. Consultant, Resource Recycling Systems (RRS)
  • Marjorie Griek, Principal, Pearl Consulting
  • Doug Hill, President, EcoVision Environmental
  • Gary Liss, Zero-Waste Consultant, Gary Liss & Associates
  • Will Sagar, Executive Director, Southeast Recycling Development Center
  • Michael Van Brunt, Director of Sustainability, Covanta

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]

The National Recycling Coalition 2017 Awards Recipients

The National Recycling Coalition 2017 Awards Recipients

Savannah Betkowski, NRC Staff; (202) 618-2107
Lisa Skumatz, Awards Chair [email protected]; 303/913-4229

This August, The National Recycling Coalition honored their recycling awards recipients at the 2017 Resource Recycling Conference in Minneapolis. The awards were presented to the winners, along with the recipients of the Murray J. Fox Scholarship, at the Conference Welcome Reception hosted by the NRC and the Recycling Association of Minnesota.

The 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 include higher education, not- for and for-profit organizations, business leadership, and recognition of outstanding programs. The NRC will be posting information on all winners on the NRC’s website.

NRC’s Awards Committee Chair Lisa Skumatz commented on the process saying of fellow committee members, “They worked long and hard to sort from among the more than one hundred submittals to find those shining examples – a task that was made particularly hard because there were so many really stellar nominees. We were very pleased that winners came from across the country to accept their awards, so attendees had the chance to learn first-hand how these programs work so well!”

2017 Awards and Recipients

  • Outstanding Business Leadership For-Profit Company- Avaya Stadium (San José, CA)
  • Outstanding Not-for-profit Business Leadership- Cooperative Teamwork & Recycling Assistance: CTRA (Austin, TX)
    • Outstanding Not-for-profit Business Leadership Honorable Mention- Northeast Resource Recovery Association: NRRA
  • Outstanding Recycling Organization- the Michigan Recycling Coalition: MRC
  • Outstanding Higher Education- the University of Florida
    • Outstanding Higher Education Honorable Mention- The University of Illinois at Chicago, Office of Sustainability
  • Outstanding Community or Government Program- South Central Solid Waste Authority: SCSWA
    • Outstanding Community or Government Program Honorable Mention- Emmet County (MI) Recycling
  • Bill Heenan Emerging Leader- Samantha Yager: Recycling Coordinator for the City of Columbia, SC & Tori Carle: City of Greensboro (NC) Recycling Educator at ‘Operation Bed Roll’
    • Bill Heenan Emerging Leader Honorable Mention- Matthew O’Carroll: Refuse, Recycling, & Water Efficiency Manager at UC Santa Barbara
  • Lifetime Achievement in Recycling- Arthur Boone, CA

Details of the Awards and Winners 

Outstanding Business Leadership For-Profit Company: Avaya Stadium
In 2015, the San Jose Earthquakes opened Avaya Stadium, an 18,000 seat, LEED Silver-certified building. The team’s dedication to environmental stewardship goes above and beyond their certification; the team installed an edible garden, offers reusable bags and cups instead of disposables, participates in Earth Day programs, and promotes junk pickup, recycling, proper hazardous waste disposal, and litter reduction messages.

From conception through completion and programming, Avaya Stadium has shown outstanding leadership in its commitment to sustainability. Not only is this a LEED certified building, but during construction, all existing concrete was removed and fully recycled, and 90% of the stadium’s steel is recycled steel content. The 3,500 feet of wood lining the suites, press box, concession stands, and scoreboard bar is recycled 100-year old wood from the historic Hangar One at Moffett Field, just a few miles away from the stadium. The stadium maintains its xeriscaped grounds with reclaimed water using a smart clock sprinkler system and is powered with solar panels installed throughout the parking structure. No waste generated at the stadium goes directly to landfill. All material is sorted and organics, including food waste, are anaerobically digested converting waste to energy. As only the 15th soccer stadium in the MLS, they are a perfect example of business leadership and commitment to the environment.

Outstanding Not-for-profit Business Leadership: Cooperative Teamwork & Recycling Assistance (CTRA)
Texas consists of many rural communities and sparsely populated areas. Because of their size and remote locations, many of these entities are unable to establish cost effective recycling programs. For over 20 years, Cooperative Teamwork & Recycling Assistance (CTRA) has been the only nonprofit cooperative marketing organization in Texas. CTRA currently consists of 52 recycling cooperatives who serve more than 500 entities, 500,000+ Texas citizens, and covers a service area of over 43,000 square miles. The goal of CTRA’s partnerships is to establish, maintain or improve recycling as an economically viable option, for underserved rural communities. CTRA’s membership includes civic groups, private industry, military bases, government entities and school districts. The strength of the cooperative provides the bargaining power needed to negotiate higher commodity prices.

For members, CTRA serves as their liaison between the public and private sector by negotiating contracts with haulers and end markets at competitive prices. The collection, transport and sale of recyclables is coordinated through CTRA and its contractors. CTRA helps community recycling programs to effectively increase the amount and quality of collected recycled materials. CTRA’s impact on recycling efforts in Texas has been substantial. From November 1995 through 2016, CTRA’s members has generated over $9,283,698 in revenue for these communities as well as saved over 396,879 yards of landfill space and $3,931,770 in landfill fees! As an outstanding business leader CRTA continuously promotes new programs and with groups across the nation and in Canada providing advice on establishing recycling cooperatives.

Outstanding Not-for-profit Business Leadership (Honorable Mention): Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA)
One of the first recycling organizations in the country, NRRA has been leading the way in innovation and stewardship since 1981. It has been sought out to see how its model has been able to survive the recycling markets downturns that have resulted in several similar organizations either scaling back or ceasing operations altogether. NRRA has been servicing member towns in Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island since 1995.

Since 1981 NRRA has adhered to its two-fold mission of “acting as a source of education in the field of solid waste management”, and “as a market development service”. Over 20 years ago NRRA recognized the issues surrounding the recycling of glass as fewer and fewer facilities would accept it for processing, and separation and hauling was a key challenge. NRRA worked to develop, and got approved in NH, the

“certified waste derived product” known as “Processed Glass Aggregate” (PGA). PGA was held out of the waste stream, consolidated at host sites, and crushed with a mobile crusher contracted by NRRA. The material was then used in municipal road beds, under parking lots and sidewalks, and culverts due to its intrinsic resistance to frost.

Since 2007 NRRA has moved over 750,000 tons of material, at the lowest cost or the highest revenues. It has grown to be the “one stop shop” for all things recycling and management of the entire waste stream. In smaller municipalities and towns waste stream management and recycling operations often fall to the DPW head or part time help. It is invaluable to have NRRA as the one reliable source to call.

Outstanding Recycling Organization: Michigan Recycling Coalition
One of the way Michigan Recycling Coalition exemplifies an outstanding recycling organization is the way it serves a broad membership through valuable education and outreach initiatives, connecting recycling professionals across the state through its conference, campaigns, and new regional outreach. To keep its members up to date and provide access to the most relevant information, MRC has developed a marketing campaign designed to raise awareness of and participation in recycling programs across the state; offers a Materials and Recycling Management Training series; promotes Regional Outreach through a Board driven initiative that encourages collaboration by regions; provides weekly newsletters, a recycling directory and has been holding annual conferences for the last 35 years.

The MRC demonstrated true leadership in 2011 with the release of “The State of Recycling in Michigan: A Way Forward”, a report which outlined the need for leadership and investment by the State of Michigan. This year they released the 2017 Report, “The State of Organics Recovery in Michigan: Priorities and Recommendations”. MRC is known for their strong partnerships, solid advocacy voice, and technical knowledge. Because of MRC’s efforts Michigan’s political leaders are taking notice. The attention and growth the industry is seeing is attributable to the hard work and success of the Michigan Recycling Coalition.

Outstanding Higher Education: University of Florida
For nearly three decades, the University of Florida has been a leader in recycling through its research, education and training, and campus operations. The cutting-edge research directed by UF’s Hinkley Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management has advanced knowledge leading to better regulation and policy around managing construction and demolition debris, hazardous waste, medical waste, recycling and reuse.

Students in the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment engage in field and laboratory research related to waste management, landfill design and beneficial use of waste materials. The Training, Research and Education for Environmental Occupations Center offers a number of required training courses for operators of hazardous and solid waste facilities, including MRFs, C&D sorting and transfer stations. The UF Physical Plant Division provides recycling, reuse, and composting services to students, faculty and staff throughout the 2000- acre central campus. UF diverted 56.3% of its waste from landfills in 2016.

Outstanding Higher Education (Honorable Mention): University of Illinois-Chicago, Office of Sustainability
Since 2014, the undergraduate Sustainability Internship Program (SIP) at the University of Illinois at Chicago has combined fine-grained, hands on experience of dealing with “real world” problems with the broader issues of sustainability. Students work one-on- one with a professional mentor/manager at NGOs such as Good Food Festival/Family Farmed, and Chicago Resource Center to address specific issues throughout the semester.

UIC placements include Facilities Management, Dining Services, College of Medicine, Student Centers, Center for Literacy, and the UIC hospital. The seminar includes visits recycling centers and green buildings, as well as focused presentations on resume writing, campus recycling and green laboratories. The semester concludes with a poster presentation where students share their learning with friends, staff, and other mentors. Student work has supported zero-waste event planning, local food procurement, battery and pen recycling program implementation, laboratory glass redistribution and paper reduction. These experiences provide valuable sustainability-related work experiences and professional references.

Outstanding Community or Government Program: South Central Solid Waste Authority (SCSWA)
In 2009 the South Central Solid Waste Authority located in Las Cruces, New Mexico launched one of the state’s first large-scale curbside recycling programs. Since this time, they have set a strong example for recycling excellence in New Mexico. The Authority continues this trend by implementing new programs, adding services, educating residents, focusing on schools and being willing to serve as a leader and role-model in the state.

Accomplishments include a sustainable glass program in a state that has few existing markets for glass. Since April of 2014 their glass program has diverted over 600 tons from the waste stream and created a product that is beneficially used by the community, as well as providing raw materials for a local sand-blasting small business. The Authority has launched a community tire shredding program that diverted over 60,000 lbs. of shredded tires from the waste stream to the Dona Ana County International Jetport for beneficial use on their airfield. Additionally, the Solid Waste Authority hosts over 50 community litter clean ups each year and has expanded their school program to include all 3 school districts in Dona Ana County. They have diverted over 40,400 tons of household recyclables since 2011.

Outstanding Community or Government Program (Honorable Mention): Emmet County Recycling (MI)
Emmet County Recycling is the leading rural recycling program in Michigan. For over 27 years, the program’s guiding principles are to be: Convenient – with recycling collected curbside, residential and commercial and at 13 Drop Sites, Comprehensive – accepting over 60 materials for recycling, yard waste and food waste composting, and Cost effective -their Enterprise Fund and best-practice policies have created a sustainable funding model without county general fund dollars.

Over 80% of Emmet County residents use the recycling services. 42% of Emmet County’s waste is recycled—almost three times the state average of 15%. Operating curbside and drop site trucks, the Material Recovery Facility (MRF), and their education programs provides outstanding communication and service. Leveraging funding for rolling carts tripled curbside capacity to 100 gallons per household / week. Emmet’s MRF also serves three neighboring counties. They demonstrate leadership at the state level, with their director serving on the Governor’s Recycling Council. 

Bill Heenan Emerging Leader: Samantha Yager
Samantha Yager began her municipal government service as an intern in 2011 and in the past year, she was promoted to Solid Waste Assistant Superintendent and is now leading recycling education and operations for the City of Columbia. Samantha managed the $2.2 million carts conversion. It was her job to formulate a budget, delivery plan, educational plan, and to oversee the entire project. In the end, she produced a $250,000 budget savings, delivered 34,000 carts in 13 days and recorded a 60 percent increase in recovered materials.   Samantha’s efforts extend much further than the curbside program. She has added new recycling cans in Columbia’s hospitality districts and will bring recycling to Columbia’s more than 60 parks. She has put recycling in Columbia’s only professional sports team stadium. She has tripled program results that have been stagnant since 2007. Samantha has a bright future in solid waste and has the work ethic and eagerness to help improve the industry. 

Bill Heenan Emerging Leader: Tori Carle
Tori Carle, an avid Pinterest user, discovered the concept of turning unwanted shopping bags into plastic bag yarn – called plarn – that could be crocheted into a blanket-like mat. This craft project turned into a much bigger idea: use the plarn to create bed rolls that could be used as sleeping surfaces for people who sleep outside and need a barrier to keep from losing body heat to the ground. The bed rolls are better than traditional blankets because the plastic is waterproof, easy to clean, and doesn’t attract bugs like cloth. Each bedroll takes upward of 700 plastic bags and 60-100 hours to complete. We called the project Operation Bed Roll: Conserve, Crochet, Care.

Operation Bed Roll aims to teach residents about the non-recyclability of plastic bags in residential recycling containers. To spread this message in a unique way, Recycling Educator Tori Carle designed a workshop to train residents to turn plastic bags into portable sleeping surfaces for the homeless. They are a better alternative to traditional blankets because they are lightweight, easy-to-clean, and do not attract unwanted insects. In 2016, over 3,000 residents participated, 211 bed rolls we created, and an estimated 147,700 plastic bags were kept out of landfills. An additional 60 bed rolls* have been donated in 2017 as the project continues.

Bill Heenan Emerging Leader (Honorable Mention): Matthew O’Carroll
Matthew O’Carroll is responsible managing UCSB’s refuse, recycling, and waste management program, water resources and water efficiency efforts, and the integrated pest management (IPM) program. In this role he has been instrumental in driving sustainability forward on the UCSB campus. Some of his accomplishments include: leading a UCSB campaign to reduce potable water use (a 21% reduction since FY12-13), authoring UCSB’s 2013 Water Action Plan which received a best practice award at the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC), increasing UCSB’s waste diversion rate by 14% in three years, receiving over $200k in grant funding for water conservation and efficiency efforts, introducing a campus-wide lab waste management program at UCSB, Co-Chairing the UC System Wide Waste Working Group, and helping UCSB take home a Best Practice Award from CHESC for his work on a project to Optimize Waste Management Services Through Stakeholder Engagement.

Matt has also been involved in the Statewide Zero Waste Plan and Best Practices tool kit. According to Hilary Beckmann, the associate Director of Sustainability at the UC office of the President (UCOP), “Matt has been an integral campus lead informing the development of a UC Statewide waste plan and a web based zero waste best practices tool kit for UC campuses. The tool kit includes reporting standards and methodologies for campus waste and recycling professionals (and affiliated staff).”

At only 28 years old, Matt has definitely emerged as a young leader in his field who is respected and loved by his colleagues. 

Lifetime Achievement in Recycling
Mr. Boone is a pioneer and leader in the California recycling scene. Fondly known as ARB or Boone, he has had three careers – Minister, Human Rights Executive and Recycler. At 79, Arthur is semiretired but still writes for technical journals, consults with businesses and public agencies, conducts small project grants and teaches a three-day Introduction to Recycling class for the Northern California Recycling Association (NCRA). A very active NCRA member, he served on the Board of Directors for 30 years. Since “retirement” he has made himself useful to the larger recycling community while pulling together his writings from the last 25 years, to which the website Center for Recycling Research is primarily dedicated.

Arthur is best known today for his 18 years producing and facilitating a one-day conference each spring for NCRA called Recycling Update. In fact it is a very popular innovations conference bringing together 25 speakers limited to ten minute presentations; some call it “speed dating for recyclers.” More than 300 people now attend this program; some of the content is posted on the NCRA website and YouTube. The format has been replicated across the country by other recycling organizations.

Most of his current time is spent in recycling as a volunteer. In the past five years, he has done various small research-related projects. He gets paid to teach two or three times a year, but he has a lot to do. If there were professors of recycling, Arthur might well be one, but there aren’t, so Arthur labors on as a practicing (though untenured) scholar.

Notable supporters and contributors of these awards include: Steel Recycling Institute- Dave Keeling; ISRI – Robin Weiner; Alpine Waste-Brent Hildebrand; EmergeKnowledge/Re-TRAC- Rick Penner; Skumatz Economic Research Associates – Lisa Skumatz; The Recycling Partnership – Dylan De Thomas; Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center, Inc.-Bob Bylone; CU Boulder-Jack DeBell; Paper Recycling Coalition-Fran McPoland; George Dreckmann- NRC Board Member; Puerto Rico Recycling Coalition – Antonio Rios; Mid-America Recycling-Mick Barry; Key Energy – Gary Bilbro;

The National Recycling Coalition congratulates all of this year’s winners!


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 nearly 40 years, NRC has been a leader in driving education and policy around recycling. Learn more about the NRC at