Several former board members and past presidents of the National Recycling Coalition Inc. are urging NRC members to vote against the proposed merger with Keep America Beautiful Inc., scheduled for an electronic vote in August.
The proposed takeover would eliminate NRC as an independent voice for recycling and leave recyclers with just a limited advisory role in an organization that has historically failed to support the structural changes that are essential if progressive recycling policies are to be adopted in this country, said Clifford Case, former NRC president and founder of the Save the NRC Coalition, in a July 9 letter sent to NRC's acting executive director, Ed Skernolis, and its acting board president, Melinda Uerling.
Case is an honorary NRC board member and heads the environmental practice group at the law firm of Carter, Ledyard & Milburn LLP in Washington.
The coalition arose out of the initial May 7 announcement that Washington-based NRC was exploring a merger with KAB, based in Stamford, Conn.
To be approved, the merger needs a two-thirds majority vote of NRC's estimated 4,500 members.
Both the coalition and the California Resource Recovery Association contend that KAB is funded and governed by the nation's largest beverage and packaging companies.
Attempts to contact KAB officials, who were meeting in Chicago with leaders of state recycling organizations from NRC, were unsuccessful.
KAB is governed by corporate leaders who set up KAB to counter the development of bottle bills around the country, said former NRC board President Gary Liss in a July 9 telephone interview. They are not committed to changing the systems that are in place. We need to focus on things like producer responsibility and zero waste to move us forward
Liss president and managing director of environmental consulting firm Gary Liss & Associates in Loomis, Calif. signed the coalition's letter, which also is being sent to the heads of state recycling organizations.
Under the merger plans accepted by the NRC board June 10, KAB would obtain all NRC trademarks, rights, intellectual property and programs, including RecycleMania and America Recycles Day. In exchange, KAB would assume responsibility for NRC debt of roughly $500,000, establish an NRC advisory council and allocate three seats from its 25-member board of directors for people recommended by that council.
One of Save the NRC Coalition's main objections to the merger is that NRC and KAB have different agendas because their membership bases are different.
While KAB has done some important recycling work on the ground, the structure and interests of their organization do not mesh with those of the NRC, said former NRC board member Amy Perlmutter, who is a fellow at the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
Pat Farrell Franklin, also a former NRC board member and retired executive director and founder of the Container Recycling Institute, agreed. KAB, on the national level, is dominated by contributing commercial interests, of the likes of Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Anheuser-Busch, Nestle Waters North America and McDonald's, most of whom are unwilling or unable to address the systemic changes needed to improve recycling, she said.
While local KAB affiliates mean well, KAB corporate is a bad match for NRC, which is a coalition of federal, state, and local governments, scrap recyclers, haulers, waste-generating businesses, nonprofit organizations, colleges, universities and environmental groups, Franklin said.
Save the NRC urged members to turn down the proposed KAB merger, so that it could study several other options, including:
* A Chapter 11 bankruptcy that would enable NRC to reorganize its debts and its priorities.
* Operating again as an all-volunteer organization that contracts out all services.
* Dissolving completely regardless of whether another broad-based organization committed to NRC's current goals arises from its ashes.