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Recycling groups nearing merger

By: Mike Verespej

August 31, 2012

AUSTIN, TEXAS (Aug. 31, 2:10 p.m. ET) — The boards of both the National Recycling Coalition and Recycling Organizations of North America Inc. are expected to vote before the end of the year on a letter of agreement that the two organizations have drafted to merge the two recycling organizations in the NorthAmerican Recycling Coalition.

That letter of agreement — announced at the NRC members meeting Aug. 27 — comes less than two months after RONA and NRC agreed to merge to create a larger, more unified recycling voice.

“We all hope that it gets completed within the next six months or so,” said Marjorie Griek, chair of RONA and executive director of the Colorado Association for Recycling. “By combining the organizations, it will be a stronger voice for recycling, there will be more resources available, more energy and focus, and less competition for members and supporters. It is the right time and the right thing to do.”

NRC, a non-profit advocacy group, has 20 affiliate organizations at the state level, and roughly 6,000 individual members, while RONA has 35 members that represent state recycling organizations as well as manufacturers and other companies in the recycling industry.

“We are all trying to figure out a different way to do environmental stewardship in this country,” said NRC president Mark Lichtenstein at the Resource Recycling conference in Austin. “We need to look at how public-private partnerships and non-government organizations can play a role in this.”

“Our approaches [to education] are not working,” he said. “We need to figure out what we need to do differently to educate people [about recycling] and what we need to do differently to affect their [recycling] behavior.”

As part of the letter of agreement between the two organizations, RONA has agreed to turn its assets, finances and intellectual property over to the renamed NRC.

After the merger, RONA would cease to exist, But some of its current board members—as long as they are members of NRC—could be added to the NRC board.

The National Standards Certification work at RONA, and RONA-U, an initiative targeting recycling efforts at college campuses, will continue under the new NRC.

The goals and objectives of the strategic plan of the new NRC are:

• Create guiding principles, values and policy positions,

• Support, defend and advocate for federal, state and local policies that advance the NRC vision and mission,

• Advance key strategic initiatives to ensure that NRC remains relevant,

• Build the economic case for recycling,

• Help shape sustainable materials management,

• Identify needs to increase recycling education and awareness throughout North America,

• Help lead and expand the product stewardship discussion,

• Coordinate strategically with appropriate national/global organizations that have a recycling or recycling-related mission,

• Create a transparent and sound plan to eliminate debt, raise money from diverse sources and create a realistic budget,

• Have open and transparent board elections,

• Create an NRC speakers bureau,

• Provide timely and educational webinars and newsletters and an effective educational website,

• Develop a diverse membership base,

NRC also announced a 15-member board for 2012/13, and said that Lichtenstein will continue as board president.

In addition, Fran McPoland, a principal with the Washington-based government relations firms of Colling, Swift & Hynes, will serve as chair of the NRC policy committee. She is also an environmental advisor to the Recycled Paperboard Association.