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New CVP leader has a 'plastics point of view'

By: Jim Johnson

March 14, 2014

ORLANDO, FLA. — It was no accident that the Curbside Value Partnership unveiled a new leader at the Plastics Recycling Conference.

The message is clear, new Executive Director Keefe Harrison said. “I come from a plastics point of view, they’ve got a good ambassador in me.”

CVP, a non-profit, “works to increase participation and improve efficiencies in residential curbside recycling programs,” according to the group. And for only the second time in its 11-year history, the group has a new leader as Harrison succeeds the mustachioed and well-known Steve Thompson. He’s been around since the beginning.

Harrison’s recycled plastic bona fides includes spending five years with the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers, a trade group. She also most recently was a senior consultant at Resource Recycling Systems, a consulting firm that works with plastics as part of its offerings.

“I work to really try to understand the plastics reclaimers, what they need, what they know. I’ve been in many members’ plants,” she said. “I think plastics first many times because it’s sometimes the biggest challenge but also the biggest opportunity.”

“I understand the complications of the plastics recycling industry and how to convey their needs without all their plastics baggage along the way,” Harrison said.

Harrison has a clear environmental bent to her approach, having spent time tagging sea turtles in Costa Rica and working in sustainable forestry while in college. But she also has a clear view of the business of curbside recycling and plastics reclamation.

Being able to bridge the gap between different groups and perspectives, she said, is a key strength she brings to the job.

“I really love that marriage of business and environment. I think that that is such a cool spot to work in,” she said. “Here at the plastics show, we think about the business side of it. When you are with local recycling coordinators, they are there for the environmental side of it. And those two mindsets sometimes cause a clash.

“So here comes that marriage counselor or translator, again, between sectors,” she said. “The trend for my career definitely has been working in cross-sectors.”

Harrison and Thompson will work together in a transition period that will last about a month.

“I’ve always really admired CVP’s work and have tremendous respect for the outgoing executive director. Steve works with such integrity and this a no-nonsense finesse that I couldn’t help but want to go for it, and I’m thrilled. Big shoes,” Harrison said.

“I may grow a mustache,” she said, curling an index finger along her upper lip.

Thompson, with his retirement, is wrapping up nearly 40 years in the recycling industry.

“The wonderful relationships I have forged over so many years and the impact we have been able to make through CVP leave me humbled yet proud, and truly excited for what lies ahead,” he said in a statement.

CVP currently is funded through the Aluminum Association, Can Manufacturers Institute, American Chemistry Council and International Bottled Water Association.