Conference Highlights

NRRA (Northeast Recovery Resource Association) Conference June 6-7, 2011
By Kay Campbell

This conference was a celebration of the organization and the individuals from New Hampshire who started this group 30 years ago.  The first recycling program with a municipal approach to recycling was in Nottingham, NH.  Recycling topics are as relevant today as they were 30 years ago and the discussion continues.

The United States produces the most waste in the world and recycles only 33% of its garbage; however, recycling is improving and future projection is the states and the federal government will mandate recycling for all of America.  California is leading the way in making new laws regarding recycling.   The group doing the best job of recycling in the US is grocery stores—they recycle everything possible.

Many manufacturers are focusing on avoiding branded litter by tracking the material in its life cycle.  Greenopolis.com is part of this group and has installed kiosks at Fenway Park where recyclables may be dropped.  These items are tracked by the bar codes and rewards for recycling are available on the Greenopolis.com website.  Pepsico is involved in the program hoping to eliminate branded litter (how many Pepsi bottles do you see along roadsides?) and uses some of the profits from the kiosks as a donation to returning troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Some proceeds are distributed to Ocean Aid.  The objective is to recapture materials for reuse.

WalMart’s packaging scorecard instilled in 2006 has forced many manufacturers to compete environmentally for shelf space at WalMart and change product packaging focusing on the environmental aspect.  This process is good for WalMart business and good for the suppliers’ business.  The goal is to reach a 5 percent packaging reduction across WalMart’s supply chain by 2013.

Rigid plastics are still a problem, but many companies are accepting these items for recycling and turning into energy and/or other products.  Liz Bedard reported tubs and lids (margarine, yogurt, cottage cheese) are profitable for collectors now.  A list of facilities recycling rigid plastics was printed in the NRRA conference program—most of the collectors are located in Texas, California and North Carolina at this time.