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NRC to Spur Action for Sustainable Materials Management in Spring 2015!

Washington DC – The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) announced the first-ever Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Summit to be held May 12 – 13, 2015, at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD. The one-and-a-half day Summit will launch a national dialog intended to accelerate sustainable materials management in the United States, and is co-hosted by the Syracuse University Center for Sustainable Community Solutions/Environmental Finance Center, and University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center.
“The Summit aims to enrich the value and role of sustainable materials management initiatives in businesses, states, and local communities across the United States, across North America, and beyond” said NRC Board President and CEO, Mark Lichtenstein. “Ultimately we want to accelerate SMM as a method of choice for avoiding the generation of discarded material. At this Summit, a focus will be on the sustainable management of materials that have been discarded.  The Summit’s approach will be to generate action-oriented strategies.  At the end of the day, this ‘unconference’ will have produced the beginnings of a refined SMM strategy-based plan” Lichtenstein continued.
The Summit will bring together 200 of the most innovative thinkers and practitioners working on issues around how natural resources are extracted, used, and then managed after their initial end-of-life. It also includes leaders in source reduction, reuse, composting, and recycling. NRC will develop the start of a SMM National Plan based on a facilitated dialogue among a broad spectrum of stakeholders. The intent is to identify deeper collaborative connections for actions and activities in the future among progressive businesses, federal, regional, state and local governments, reuse and recycling organizations, trade and industry groups, and other nonprofits.
Initial Supporters of the SMM Summit include ReTrac, the Steel Recycling Institute, and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. Broad and inclusive Advisory and Steering Committees (see below) are also helping to organize this important event, which represent all segments of reuse, recycling, and composting in America.
About the National Recycling Coalition
The National Recycling Coalition is a non-profit organization focused on promoting and enhancing SMM in North America, with a network of more than 6,000 members extending across waste reduction, reuse, composting, and recycling. For more than 30 years, the NRC has been a leader in driving education and policy around SMM. Learn more about the NRC at, and the SMM Summit at
About Sustainable Materials Management
The US EPA defines SMM as “an approach to serving human needs by using/reusing resources most productively and sustainably throughout their life cycles, from the point of resource extraction through material disposal. This approach seeks to minimize the amount of materials involved as well as associated environmental impacts, and account for economic efficiency and social considerations.” SMM includes actions across the full life-cycle of materials, including but not limited to managing materials after they have been discarded. SMM is about environmental justice, regional solutions, job training and local job creation, new materials science and design for recycling, innovative financing, product stewardship, sustainable organics management, a nexus of market-based and policy-based solutions, reuse and repurposing, highest-and-best use analysis for local decision-making, new management technology, enhanced recycling, and many more.


Posted in NRC News and Alerts|

NRC supports the Recycling Industry Coalition policy opposing Dirty MRFs

After spirited and thoughtful debate at the Board of Directors meeting on November 21, 2014, the Board voted to support the Recycling Industry Coalition policy opposing Dirty MRFs. The motion the Board voted on was:

The National Recycling Coalition supports the policy adopted by the Recycling Industry Coalition (RIC) in highlighting concerns with the implementation of Dirty MRFs. The NRC agrees with concerns with Dirty MRFs that RIC highlighted and other concerns. Instead of relying on Dirty MRFs, NRC urges communities to implement best practices for the separate collection of recyclables. Recycling programs must be designed to minimize contamination in consideration of the needs of upstream users. In conjunction with source reduction, reuse, and composting, the recycling of valuable materials for their highest and best use is essential to a sustainable environmental, energy, and economic future.

The RIC policy statement in it’s entirety is as follows:

The Recycling Industries Coalition represents industries and companies that are concerned about the potential degradation of recyclable materials when they are mixed with solid waste. Our experience, along with that of thousands of American communities and businesses, shows that separate collection of recyclables continues to be the most effective and cost-efficient method of maximizing the collection of clean recyclable raw materials. Simply put, collecting recyclable materials in the same bin as garbage basically just creates more garbage — good for nothing much more than being disposed of in landfills or incinerators.

Preserving the quality of recyclable materials, from collection through production into new products, will ultimately expand both the supply and the demand for recyclable feedstock for the world’s manufacturing industries. Coalition members know that a facility processing waste and recyclables mixed together, known as a Dirty MRF, will not improve and may harm recycling. When processing recyclables mixed with solid waste, it can result in the recyclable materials being rendered useless for reprocessing into new products. Mixing these valuable recyclables with food, diapers, and other contaminants will severely degrade them to the point that they will only be usable for incineration, landfilling or energy recovery, which is not recycling.

The private and public sectors have invested billions of dollars in infrastructure enabling citizens and businesses to reduce, reuse and recycle efficiently. The $90 billion dollar recycling industry supports hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect jobs. Maintaining the current large job base in the overall recycling network as well as the creation of new well-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries in the United States is critically important. Recycling conserves non-renewable natural resources, helps numerous industries reduce their energy use and significantly reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators. Products made from recyclable materials can be recycled many times, whereas recyclables converted to energy, burned or landfilled are lost forever. Finally, recycling is sustainable and results in avoided greenhouse gas emissions.

Members of the Coalition include: American Forest & Paper Association, Glass Packaging Institute (GPI), Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Knauf Insulation, National Recycling Coalition (NRC), Newark Group, O-I, Paper Recycling Coalition (PRC), the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) and Waste Management (WM),

Recyclables aren’t waste, let’s keep it that way.

Posted in NRC News and Alerts|

Next NRC Board Meeting

The NRC Board will be meeting October 29th in New York City to welcome the new Board and elect new officers. Additionally, working from the approved updated definition of recycling (see story below), the Board will review the recommendations of the Policy Committee to expand on that definition to cover the following areas:

1. Policies on processing activities,
2. Degree of flexibility in meeting needs to produce recycled commodities,
3. New technologies,
4. Exclusions, and
5. The benefits of recycling.

Where: Syracuse University Fisher Center, 19 East 31st St. between 31st and 32nd.
When: 12-5pm

Posted in NRC News and Alerts|

NRC Updates Definition of Recycling

On Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at the Resource Recycling Conference in New Orleans, LA, the Board of Directors met in-person and discussed the organization’s definition of recycling to ensure that it remains relevant within the ever-changing recycling “industry”. Special guest, Bill McDonough (author of the popular book, Cradle2Cradle) joined the Board for the lively and insightful discussion after his inspiring keynote presentation. After excellent dialogue, the updated definition of recycling adopted by NRC is:

“Recycling is a series of activities by which material that has reached the end of its current use is processed into material utilized in the production of new products.”

NRC’s past definition of recycling, that was adopted by the EPA, was:

“The series of activities by which materials that are no longer useful to the generator are collected, sorted, processed, and converted into raw materials and used in the production of new products.” 

While the two read similarly, the updated definition was the result of extensive and excellent dialogue, where the new language was deliberately chosen. The updated definition is a section of a larger policy document that is still being finalized by the Policy Committee and will be released soon.

Posted in NRC News and Alerts|

2014 NRC Award Winners

The National Recycling Coalition announced seven winners of their National Awards – honoring counties, companies, organizations, and individuals that led recycling across the US. In a special luncheon at the National Conference put on this week in New Orleans by Resource Recycling Magazine, the NRC announced the following slate of winners for 2014.

  • Outstanding Recycling Community or Government Program:  Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency in New York, accepted by Andrew Radin.
  • Outstanding Business Leadership – For-Profit Business:  Emerge Knowledge – Re-TRAC Connect, accepted by CEO Rick Penner.
  • Outstanding Business Leadership – Non-Profit Business:  Call2Recycle, Inc.
  • Outstanding Recycling Organization:  Indiana Recycling Coalition, accepted by Executive Director Carey Hamilton.
  • Outstanding Higher Education Award:  The Pennsylvania State University, accepted by Alex Novak
  • Bill Heenan Emerging Leader Award: Brandie Sebastian, Steel Recycling Institute.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award:  Gregory L. Crawford, Steel Recycling Institute.

The awards program, long a staple of NRC’s annual conferences, were reinvigorated with the addition of a new award, the Bill Heenan Emerging Leader Award. The award’s namesake, who passed away in the last year, was a long-term NRC board leader, and had worked for 20 years for Steel Recycling Institute (SRI), and 19 for US Steel. Bill was nationally known for his leadership in growing recycling in industry, and championed the “next generation” in recycling. It was fitting both that his name was affixed to the emerging leader award, and that the awardee was actually from SRI.

Meg Morris, a Vice President of the NRC, officiated at the ceremony. She celebrated the return of the national awards program, and the popularity of the program with the membership. She noted “…the awards program celebrates the winners and their performance, but also serves as a valuable resource for members on successful programs to use as models at the community and state level”. Lisa Skumatz, Chair of the Awards committee, noted that the seven awardees were highly deserving, but “there were extremely strong other candidates among the seventy-plus nominees. The committee noted it was hard to have to reject some, and I expect a really strong pack of candidates next year as well!” The awards committee also included Fran McPoland, Arley Owens, John Fredericks, and Jack DeBell. The ceremony also awarded five “Murray Fox Scholarships” to students from local Tulane University. More detail on the NRC winners is provided below.

Outstanding Higher Education – exceptional program in recycling or in connecting higher education and the industry (in degrees, tech transfer, career services / links, etc.)

The Pennsylvania State University, Alex Novak

Before 1990, the University recycled less than a ton of its waste. Today, the University recycles more than 100 types of waste and diverts almost 10,000 tons from the landfill—65 percent of its solid waste. The University-wide commitment and branding campaign includes partners such as Residence Life, Office of Physical Plant, and Intercollegiate Athletics.   Each year classes in Environmental Resource Management, Horticulture, Agro Ecology and Ag Engineering visit Penn State’s Organic Materials Processing and Education Center (OMPEC) to learn about environmental design, production and equipment. The program is a collaboration between the College of Agricultural Sciences, Housing and Food Services, Hospitality Services and the Office of Physical Plant. The project has parallel goals of responding to the needs of handling organic residuals generated from within the University and enhancing teaching, research and extension/outreach programs of a land-grant university.

Outstanding Not-for-profit Business Leadership – for a non-profit company showing leadership, innovation, success as model in recycling / diversion

Call2Recycle, Inc.

Founded in 1994, Call2Recycle—North America’s first and largest consumer battery stewardship program—is a non-profit organization that collects and recycles batteries at no cost for municipalities, businesses and consumers. By collecting batteries for recycling, Call2Recycle reduces landfill waste and removes potentially harmful heavy metals from the waste stream.     2014 commemorates Call2Recycle’s 20th anniversary of product stewardship excellence. Since 1996, Call2Recycle has diverted more than 85 million pounds of batteries and cellphones from the solid waste stream and established over 34,000 collection sites throughout the U.S. and Canada.   More than 200 battery and product manufacturers trust Call2Recycle to be their turnkey battery management solution and have united to ensure that the batteries they introduce in to the marketplace are responsible recycled. Through the support of these stewards, Call2Recycle is able to offer a no-cost recycling solution for collection sites and consumers. Battery recycling isn’t just our business. It’s our mission.

Outstanding Business Leadership – for-profit company – awarded to a company showing leadership, innovation, success as model in recycling / diversion

Emerge Knowledge Design/Re-TRAC Connect, Rick Penner

Emerge Knowledge Design Inc. (Emerge) launched a proprietary web-based data tracking and reporting system called Re-TRAC™ in 2004. Since that time, Re-TRAC has been adopted by many leading recycling and waste management agencies throughout the United States at the local, state, and national levels. The wide scale adoption of this affordable and easy-to-use software platform is making data collection more cost-effective, efficient, standardized, and accessible for recycling professionals across the country.   Re-TRAC is designed to help recycling and waste management professionals collect, manage, analyze, and publish recycling and other waste reduction related information. Re-TRAC accommodates the full spectrum of recycling information collection and management needs which helps users achieve their waste reduction goals.     As we all know, what isn’t getting measured can’t be properly managed. Re-TRAC makes efficient and cost-effective data management available to the recycling sector in a way that has never been possible before.

Outstanding Community or Government Program – for program showing innovation, progress, success as model for other public programs

Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA), Andrew Radin

In 2013, the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA), a not-for-profit public benefit corporation, helped the 450,000 residents of Onondaga County, NY, recycle over 230,000 tons of material; nearly 50% of the total waste stream (excludes yard waste).   In addition, over the past few years, OCRRA has helped the community recycle over four million pounds of electronic waste, over one million pounds of batteries, over 30,000 pounds of fluorescent lamps, and over 80,000 pounds of confidential (shredded) documents from residents. OCRRA is now processing over 50,000 pounds of institutional and commercial food scraps weekly into high-quality, STA-certified compost at its food scrap composting facility, the largest such municipal operation in NY State. This has all been achieved through an innovative public education campaign (“Save the World a Little Each Day”), and a commitment to invest in environmental programs that maximize waste reduction and material recovery for recycling and reuse.

Outstanding Recycling Organization – State or other recycling organization with outstanding growth, programs, leadership, or contribution / impact in the field

Indiana Recycling Coalition, Carey Hamilton

The Indiana Recycling Coalition has been an effective voice for recycling in Indiana since its formation in 1989. We are submitting this self-nomination due to our successful evolution in recent years from a grassroots organization to a professional, staffed organization, taking our cause to the next level. The IRC has experienced normal growing pains, but we have worked through those challenges and today, we are better able to serve our mission to advance waste reduction, reuse, composting and recycling than ever before. In this nomination, we will highlight four recent and significant areas of impact: 1) passage of Indiana’s highly effective e-waste law 2) development of countless partnerships that creatively leverage new resources to serve our mission 3) creation of an industry policy stakeholder group that has helped us grow our credibility and effectiveness at the statehouse 4) funding growth and diversification.

Bill Heenan Emerging Leader Award – outstanding individual under 35 who has emerged as leader in field

Brandie Sebastian, Steel Recycling Institute

Brandie Sebastian joined the Steel Recycling Institute as Manager, Life Cycle Assessment in 2013, serving as the North American steel industry’s technical expert on life cycle assessment, modeling and practices. In this capacity she investigates and promotes the life cycle advantages of steel vs. competing materials. In less than a year, Brandie has worked on the development of a North American life cycle data set, engaged international and domestic standardization and regulatory organizations and integrated new, North American data into key databases. Brandie’s role and participation in North American life cycle assessment for steel is key to advancing steel as the environmental material of choice.

Lifetime Achievement in Recycling – outstanding individual with lifetime of leadership / dedication to the field

Gregory L. Crawford, Steel Recycling Institute

Greg Crawford has spent his career working to maximize the recycling of post-consumer materials. He spent seven years managing over 100 employees at five buyback locations for Reynolds Aluminum. Beginning in 1989, Greg became the Vice President of Operations for the Steel Can Recycling Institute (renamed as The Steel Recycling Institute in 1993). His plan for the steel can recycling infrastructure has resulted in the recycling rate of steel cans to grow from 15% (1989) to its current recycling rate of 71% (2012). Since becoming the Executive Director in 2010, Greg has guided the SRI’s efforts to collect and disseminate Life Cycle Inventory data for various steel products. From day one, he stated that all steel cans; food, beverage, aerosol and paint cans should be included in every community’s recycling program. With his assistance and guidance, the seven regional recycling managers completed 18 months of “infrastructure development” which involved meeting with municipal, county, and state recycling official, haulers, MRF operators, and scrap dealers, as well as each of the steel mills and iron foundries across the country to discuss the homogenous chemistry of “today’s” steel can and get them to aggressively purchase and melt steel can scrap. Greg worked with various government agencies and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries to increase the recycling of automobiles and appliances to astounding levels. In addition to serving on possibly hundreds of recycling and construction related committees, Greg has served the recycling industry as the Chair of the National Recycling Coalition and Chair of the Buy Recycled Business Alliance, and serves on the KAB board. Greg is retiring in January 2015.

Posted in NRC News and Alerts|

NRC Awards Call for Nominations

Announcing the 2014 National Recycling Coalition Awards

To be presented at the Resource Recycling Conference
September 15-17. 2014 | New Orleans, LA

Nominate the best programs or individual you know in the following categories:

  1. NRC’s Lifetime Achievement Award – recognizing an outstanding individual with a lifetime of leadership and dedication to the field of recycling.
  2. Bill Heenan Emerging Leader Award – recognizing an outstanding individual aged 35 or under who has emerged as a leader in the field.
  3. Outstanding Recycling Organization – awarded to a State Recycling Organization with outstanding growth, programs, leadership, or which has made a substantial impact on the field.
  4. Outstanding Business Leadership – awarded to a for-profit company showing leadership, innovation, and success as a corporate model in recycling and diversion.
  5. Outstanding Non-Profit Business Leadership – awarded to a not-for-profit company showing leadership, innovation, and success as a corporate model in recycling and diversion.
  6. Outstanding Community or Government Program – awarded to a public (community / governmental) program showing innovation, progress, or success as a model for other public programs.
  7. Outstanding Higher Education Program – awarded to a college / university with an exceptional program in recycling or in connecting higher education and the industry in the areas of degrees, tech transfer, career services, etc.

Nominate a worthy candidate (you may self-nominate) by clicking on the following link.  For questions, please contact Lisa Skumatz, NRC Awards Committee Chair at [email protected], or at 303/494-1178.
Deadline has been extended to Monday, August 18, so spread the word and get your nominations in!

Click here for the link to the award form.

You will need:  contact information for yourself and the nominee, 150 word summary, three letters of support and 500 words or less on each of the following topics:  Coverage / longevity; innovation / meeting needs; effect on recycling / hierarchy;  program economics;  leadership / cutting edge; and additional information (if needed).  The criteria for the higher education award asks for information about degree programs and career services, applied research / tech transfer, and links with recycling industries.  We recommend you prepare a document first, and then cut and paste your responses into the form.

Posted in NRC News and Alerts|

WEBINAR: Computer Refurbishing and Reverse Logistics

This webinar provides insight on the computer hardware refurbishing and recycling industry and the complexity of factors such as supply and demand, and the hard-to-assess and fast-decaying value of returned hardware during the refurbishing and recycling process. 

Date: Tuesday August 19, 2014

Time: 1:30-2:45PM EST

Cost: FREE


Peter Sobata, Founder & CEO, recoupIT, inc.
Topic Subject Matter – Computer Refurbishing, Reverse Logistics
Technical Complexity – Moderate/ High

Posted in NRC News and Alerts|

Apply to become NRC’s Fund Development Contractor

Interested in working towards a sustainable financial future for NRC?

The National Recycling Coalition seeks to invest in a dynamic and experienced leader to serve as Fund Development Contractor under contract to advance the fund development, and mission of the organization. The NRC is looking for a goal-oriented professional who is motivated to grow an organization and be rewarded for those successful efforts.


Posted in NRC News and Alerts|

Amazon Smile

When you have to shop, support the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) simply by shopping on Amazon!

NRC is now an official recipient organization of Amazon donations.  It’s super easy to make a donation and doesn’t cost you a thing!  Rather than shop via Amazon’s regular website, do any Amazon shopping on AmazonSmile and Amazon will automatically donate 0.5% of your total purchases to NRC. Once you indicate “National Recycling Coalition” as the charity you are supporting, do your shopping as usual and make your purchases as you normally do. You are not charged anything extra. You do not need to change your account settings.  The only thing that changes is that you will do your shopping on AmazonSmile which contains the same exact information and products as Amazon’s regular website. We suggest you bookmark AmazonSmile to make it even easier to return to the website. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Here’s the step-by-step process:

(1) Go to: and type in “National Recycling Coalition” as the organization that you want to support.

(2) Sign in to your Amazon Account, or create a new account if you don’t yet have one.

(3) Voila! You’re done. Shop as usual.

(4) Don’t forget to return to each time you want to make an Amazon purchase so NRC can receive 0.5% of your total purchase.  We realize it isn’t a lot of money, but pennies still do add up to dollars!

If you have any questions about this process, please contact AmazonSmile customer help directly <>.

Thank you so much for your valued support of NRC!


Posted in NRC News and Alerts|