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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|

NRC / RONA Partnership

RONA and NRC have combined into One Strong Voice for Sustainable Management of Resources: A message from NRC President and CEO Mark Lichtenstein

In a recent letter to me, Marjie Griek, Chair of the Recycling Organizations of North America, correctly recalled that in 2009 “there was grave concern on the part of the national recycling community that the National Recycling Coalition would not be able to continue to function as a strong representative of the recycling” industry (broadly defined). I’m sure many of you join with me in vivid recollection about those frenetic and dark days where talks of mergers and bankruptcy were rampant. Read More [expand title=”Learn More”]

Those long four years ago, a bolus of folks – including individuals relatively unknowing about the NRC, others who were once stalwarts for the organization, but over time slipped away from it (like me), and many very active members with the Coalition at the time – came together to form a cohesive Save the NRC Committee. There is something to be said about this headless, but prodigious group, forging ahead with a singular goal of clarity. That is…

…the laudable, original vision for this venerable, national organization – one that should operate above reproach, secure itself from real or perceived undue influence, effectively engage the matrixed, complex, diverse, and numerous stakeholders of our “industry,” and bring it all together in one house to accelerate sustainable resource management – is worthy of not simply being saved, but of increased investment of effort leading it to its apotheosis.

Amy Perlmutter, Bob Gedert, Pete Grogan, the late Pat Franklin, NRC Founder Cliff Case, a few current members of the NRC Board at the time like Fran McPoland, David Refkin, Curt Bucey, and Melinda Uerling, a plethora of NRC past-presidents and board members, numerous representatives of the Recycling Organizations Council, and many others, including the current RONA leaders, forged ahead with the Herculean effort.

Some, and I was at the table for a portion of the nascent discussions, also recognized there may have to be an alternative reality, considering the breadth of NRC’s challenge, and thus, the potential that the Save the NRC Committee’s efforts may in the end be unsuccessful. There needed to be a Plan B. That alternative plan – safety net, if you will – was to become RONA.

Admittedly, during the 2010 timeframe with the NRC slowly on the mend and with, most likely, a misplaced confidence, I personally expended a lot of internal energy on my belief that RONA and the NRC needed to become one organization as soon as possible. The passage of time has offered me the ability sit in a retrospective position. I now know I was wrong to push so hard back then. The NRC was still deep in the woods, and RONA’s leaders were keeping the home fires burning. I was blind to the light coming from that hearth, oh-so-close ahead. They were smart to be sure the NRC was of sound mind and body, before agreeing to our request for a slow-dance.
As Marjie once again correctly assesses, in 2012, “when it became clear that the NRC would survive and thrive, boards of both organizations and their members agreed in spirit to join the two organizations together. [We] developed a document entitled Guiding Principles and Strategies that clearly stated shared goals and ideals, and mechanisms for reaching those.” Thus, here we are today.

How unfair it would be for me to imply that all RONA was doing during that time period was to play a waiting game, hinging its fate on NRC’s progress trekking down its own path. Au contraire! They moved forward with aplomb, and helped develop the National Standards Certification Board that created and oversees the National Standards Program for Sustainable Resource Management. (Work by this board is ongoing and shall continue under the NRC umbrella.) They established RONA U, bringing together campuses across the nation, and they launched other important initiatives as well.

I personally applaud what RONA’s members, board, and other leaders have been able to accomplish in a relatively short time frame. Mick Barry, Gary Bilbro, Jack DeBell, John Frederick, Marjie, and Gary Liss in particular deserve much kudos. I have no doubt that their efforts helped move the ball on materials recovery in a big way.
The coming-together of these two proud organizations puts more arrows in the NRC quiver. We are excited about the work of the National Standards Certification Board. In addition, RONA U, and now, the newly formed NRC Campus Council (resulting from this process) resonate with me personally, as I was there with Jack DeBell and others when the NRC formed its first College and University Recycling Council in the 1990s. The NRC will once again have a presence in this very important sector with our new Campus Council continuing RONA U’s work in ways that remain distinct from other college and university organizations in the recycling field – we will strengthen connections with those other like-minded organizations – and it will focus on better linkages between higher education and businesses.

The NRC family also is strengthened through this partnership by very likely soon having Gary, Jack, John, Marjie, and Gary join Mick and the rest of the NRC leadership as new members of our board (this action is slated to take place on August 27th here in Louisville). These are great leaders the new NRC is going to be tapping into. The people coalescing – and let’s not forget, these are not faceless and nameless organizations, it’s all about the people! – the leaders from RONA, the new NRC board soon to be elected, the ROC and all the ROs who are coming to the table in great numbers-this is what it’s going to take for the NRC accelerate to its next phase. Of that, I have no doubt!

It should be self-evident by now that I’m extremely excited about the opportunity this “coming-together” represents for moving sustainable materials and sustainable resources management to the next level, particularly throughout the Americas. I’m overflowing with positive energy, and I see this energy manifesting itself with other colleagues in this new, and once again, reinvigorated NRC. All of us are ready to put this newfound energy into further action.

Here and across the Globe, we continue to have some strategic and difficult challenges relating to implementing more sustainable approaches to managing our discards, but also embodied within those challenges are great opportunities-opportunities for job creation, more social equity, and acceleration toward a society where the concept of “waste” is an outlier.

These are two seemingly small NGOs, but this constructive action, I predict, will have serious, positive, and over the long-term, monumental reverberations.
I hope to see you all here in Louisville at our Annual Meeting tomorrow, August 26th, to hear more positive news about the state of the NRC.

My very best to you all,
Mark Lichtenstein
President and CEO[/expand]

Posted in NRC News and Alerts|