Glass: Half Empty or Half Full? Excerpt from 2018 NRRA Board of Trustees President’s Report

by Duncan Watson, President Northeast Resource Recovery Association Board of Trustees; Assistant City Manager, Keene, NH; Member, SWEEP Steering Committee

Is this Glass Half Full or Half Empty? The closure of China’s market to foreign recovered material means that over half of the material collected for recycling has no clear place to go. This is the message of the NRRA Board of Trustees to the many members of the organization outlining one response to the many challenges faced at this time.

The NRRA is truly a remarkable organization.   Providing a calm and steady presence amidst utter chaos, the NRRA has weathered many storms.   Today’s market climate might be the most severe test as communities react to what is being termed an existential crisis.   And while it’s true that everything we have known for the past handful of years has been turned on its ear, it’s a long overdue reckoning that will once again demonstrate the leadership of YOUR organization.

The President’s report is usually just one big platitude.   Rah, rah, and all that. But stop for a minute to reflect on one thing in particular that happened this last year.   Glass was put on the WANTED posters as enemy #1.   News report after news report indicated communities all over the country were no longer accepting glass as a recycling commodity.   We all know the challenges glass has posed in towns that employ single stream processing.   The easy thing to do would have been to just go along with the tide of momentum.   But no.   NRRA believed there was a better way.   And without knowing where the path would lead, calls were made, leads followed, research done.   A better way was found.   The pioneering glass program created by the NRRA is up, functioning and has the potential to divert more glass than ever before.   This is just a small example of the value of the NRRA.   The glue of our organization is our shared belief in the value of discards as resources.   It’s built into our collective ethos.   I’m proud of who we are, and my sense is we are just getting started in driving our mission.

I want to extend my appreciation to the staff at the NRRA.   The talent of the staff is legion. To the Board of Trustees, thank you for devoting your time and energy to guiding this ship. And to you, the members for which this organization exists- the heart only beats with blood coursing through the veins and you are the lifeblood of the NRRA. Thank you for believing.

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