Wednesday, January 7, 2015

nrc to spur action for sustainable materials management in spring 2015!

the national recycling coalition is putting together a very important policy summit this spring....

Contact: Gary Liss, 916-652-7850,

NRC to Spur Action for Sustainable Materials Management in Spring 2015!
National Summit Planned at University of Maryland, May 12 – 13

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.

If you are receiving this information, then in all likelihood, you are involved in SMM in some manner.

SMM Summit Advisory and Steering Committee  Members: 

  • Ruth Abbe, GrssRoots Recycling Network/Zero Waste USA
  • Richard Anthony, Zero Waste International Alliance and Richard Anthony Associates
  • Karen Bandhauer, Curbside Value Partnership
  • Jay Bassett, US EPA Region 4
  • Sue Beets-Atkinson, US Zero Waste Business Council and SBM Management
  • Gary Bilbro, NRC Board and New Green Consulting
  • Sara Bixby, Solid Waste Association of North America
  • Kendall Christiansen, US Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Susan Collins, NRC Board and Container Recycling Institute
  • Maia Corbitt, State of Texas Alliance for Recycling
  • Greg Crawford, Steel Recycling Institute
  • Bridget Croke, Closed Loop Fund
  • John Davis, Recyclers Global Warming Council of CA Resource Recovery Association
  • Dylan DeThomas, Resource Recycling
  • MaryEllen Etienne, Reuse Alliance and REUSE.International
  • Darby Hoover, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Peter Houstle, Maryland Recycling Network
  • Dave Keeling, Steel Recycling Institute
  • Barbara Klipp, Sierra Club Zero Waste Community Responsibility Team
  • Marie Kruzan, Association of New Jersey Recyclers
  • Tim Lee, Virginia Recycling Association
  • David Levine, American Sustainable Business Council
  • Mark Lichtenstein, NRC President and Syracuse Center for Sustainable Community Solutions
  • Gary Liss, NRC Board and Gary Liss & Associates
  • Stephen London, NRC Board
  • Andrew Mangan, US Business Council for Sustainable Development
  • William McDonough, McDonough Innovation
  • Fran McPoland, NRC Board Policy Chair and Paper Recycling Coalition
  • Chaz Miller, National Waste & Recycling Association
  • Jeff Miller, Former NRC Board
  • Michelle Minstrell, NRC Board
  • Meg Morris, Former NRC Board and Covanta
  • Michele Nestor, Recycling Organizations Council Chair
  • Cary Oshins, US Composting Council
  • Brenda Platt, Institute for Local Self-Reliance
  • Jerry Powell, Resource Recycling
  • Brenda Pulley, Keep America Beautiful
  • Julie Rhodes, NRC Board and Julie L Rhodes Consulting
  • Lynn Rubinstein, Northeast Recycling Council
  • Will Sagar, NRC Board & Southeast Recycling Development Council
  • Suzette Thomason, Steel Recycling Institute
  • Meri Beth Wojtaszek, Solid Waste Association of North America

Friday, December 26, 2014

help us make christmas tree recycling possible in indy

approximately 33 million real christmas trees are sold in north america each year, according to the u.s. epa. luckily, about 93% of those trees are recycled through more than 4,000 available recycling programs. indianapolis was about to be part of the 7% to not recycle, until... us provide an opportunity for indy residents to recycle/compost christmas trees instead of having them collected by the city curbside and then incinerated. a group of private sector and non-profit partners are coming together to offer this important community service.
Residents are already dumping their Christmas trees at City parks. But, the City isn't collecting trees for recycling this year (they are burning them at the incinerator). So, let's hand onto our trees and drop them off January 2 - 11 at Teachers Treasures parking lot!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

christmas tree recycling option vs. city's curbside incineration plan

let's make sure that christmas trees in indianapolis get recycled instead of incinerated. learn more about the environmentally friendly alternative for having christmas trees mulched/recycled!


Renee Sweany,, 317-538-5472
Julie Rhodes,, 317-371-2788

Local green advocate steps up to offer recycling to interested citizens

INDIANAPOLIS – When local green advice columnist, Renee Sweany, learned that the City of Indianapolis would not be mulching Christmas trees after the holidays, she did what any concerned citizen would do. She decided to plan her own Christmas tree collection.

Last week the Office of Sustainability announced that residents could conveniently place their Christmas trees at their curb this year, rather than deliver them to Indy Parks sites like they have in years past. What they left to be deduced is that trees will not be mulched, but will go with the rest of the garbage to be burned.

Pulling together various community partners, Sweany hopes people from throughout the city will choose to bring their tree to a designated area of the parking lot of Teachers’ Treasures on Indy’s near east side. RecycleForce will be monitoring the tree collection lot and will also be collecting old electronics at their nearby facility. Ray’s Trash Service has donated a dumpster and will haul collected trees to GreenCycle, who has agreed to accept trees at no charge. Local environmental project manager, Julie L Rhodes Consulting, will oversee the project as a volunteer.

The collection will run January 2-11, when people can drop-off clean, real Christmas trees in the designated area of Teachers' Treasures parking lot, 1800 East 10th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46201. It is extremely important that all ornaments, tinsel, garland, fake snow and plastic bags are removed before placing a tree in the dumpster.

With more than 12,000 subscribers to her Ask Renee column in NUVO, Sweany hopes to raise money through an online fundraising campaign to cover the nominal expenses involved with collecting and recycling the trees. People interested in supporting the effort can go to

“We welcome Indy residents to bring their trees to Teachers' Treasures as our mission encourages recycling and repurposing materials all year long,” says Margaret Sheehan, executive director of Teachers’ Treasures. “Our location is supported by strong neighborhood and business associations, along with the many teachers who shop at the store with the school and classroom supplies donated by area businesses and people. This collaboration makes sense for our organization and location.”


Monday, December 22, 2014

indiana needs a climate action plan

a large and diverse group of advocates attended the november 2014
environmental rules board meeting in support for a climate action plan
whose job is it? there is clear legal justification for indiana's environmental rules board to help us progress a climate action alan. a climate action plan would allow Indiana to develop a plan to address the climate crisis -- for maintaining, reversing and adapting to the changes that are inevitable. indiana is only one of 16 states that is not developing a plan. : 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

today's announcement substantiates need for investment in recycling

a previous blog post touched on the need for investment in recycling. it is critical to recognize how recycling can be a catalyst for economic development in a community willing to make that commitment. announced today, i am proud to have secured a $1 million grant for Austin before I departed and disappointed to not be present today for the news conference:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

indianapolis announces dirty mrf deal with covanta

today, the city of indianapolis announces a plan for a dirty mrf (material recovery facility) whereby trash will be collected and recyclables segregated out for recycling after the fact. haven't we learned from years of dirty mrfs that very little marketable commodity can be gleaned from co-mingled trash. paper can't be recycled after a soda has been spilled on it. cardboard can't be recycled when it sits in a bin for days with food scraps next to it. plastics are very expensive to recycle when they are covered with coffee grounds and grease. in order for a materials to be sold as commodities, it must be treated like commodities. this plan is bad for indianapolis, bad for manufacturers who depend on recyclables for feedstock, and bad for the future of recycling everywhere if cities can be sold this bag of goods.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

investment needed to grow recycling...

austin is aggressively pulling materials from the waste stream until its zero waste goals, but few local markets for those recyclables exist, and most recyclable materials collected in austin land in markets around the world. as such, austin is losing those opportunities for local investment and jobs.

as i depart as the city of austin's first recycling economic development liaison, i was pleased to organize a unique local event that brought together recycling manufacturing companies with the investment community in hopes of bringing awareness and funds to grow recycling in austin. you can learn about the ten (10) companies who presented, as well as see photos and a complete video of the event here. six of the companies to date have been approached by one or more investors. the hope is that this event will result in helping existing austin companies grown, new start-ups, as well as attract national and international companies to expand. over 100 companies, investors and observers attended the event.

while i resigned my position with the city of austin effective june 6, 2014, my sincere hope is that some of my efforts there will have lasting effects towards positive change.