National Recycling Coalition announces 2016 awards recipients

Sheetz Inc. and Weis Markets among those honored.

September 20, 2016

The National Recycling Coalition (NRC), Washington, recognized recipients of its 2016 recycling awards during the Resource Recycling Conference in New Orleans in September. The NRC presented the awards at the 2016 Murray J. Fox Scholarship and NRC Annual Awards Luncheon.

The awards program is designed to honor and recognize outstanding individuals, programs and organizations around the country for their achievements and to serve as a model to NRC members, the organization says. Award categories range from higher education, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, business leadership and outstanding programs.

2016 awards and recipients are:

  • Outstanding Business Leadership For-Profit Company – Sheetz Inc. and Weis Markets Inc. Sheetz, a family-owned firm, pilot tested bins, service, hauling contracts and employee training and found a solution that works in this sector, which it has now rolled out to 70 percent of its locations. The company is diverting more than 8 million bottles and cans, expecting to hit 12 million as it finishes the roll-out. In response to a corporate mission to be good environmental stewards, Weis reduced its carbon footprint by 22.1 percent from its 2008 baseline, surpassing its 20 percent 2020 target four years early. The company achieved this goal by partnering to manufacture its recyclables into new products, including Envirologs from recycled waxed paper; Weis Choice compost from food from 70 stores; and plastic bags turned into Trex lumber and then donating benches made from the material to community organizations.
  • Outstanding Not-for-Profit Business Leadership – La Soupe of Cincinnati. La Soupe is a nonprofit that rescues food, feeding hungry people with the soups and stews that chef and founder Suzy deYoung creates. La Soupe partnerships with grocery stores, organic farmers and other area chefs (called the "Chef Bucket Brigade") and also holds after-school cooking classes. Feeding children in food deserts is a special target for La Soupe. 
  • Outstanding Recycling Organization – Indiana Recycling Coalition (IRC) & Texas STAR. In 2016 the IRC led a successful two-year campaign, bringing together an array of efforts to oppose siting of a mixed waste facility in Indianapolis; launched the Indiana Student Recycling Leadership Corps (SRLC) with PepsiCo, a high school scholarship program that allowed two students to present their work on community recycling projects at this year’s IRC conference; and launched the Indiana Food Scrap Initiative (IFSI) to build food infrastructure, pilot projects and toolkits. Texas STAR spent the year spreading the word about the recycling industry’s effect on the state through the Texas Data Recycling Initiative (TDRI). Other efforts included strengthening partnerships and relationships with other nongovernment organizations in the state, reaching out to new sectors and companies and a providing value to and engaging with members though presentations at meetings, conferences and events to develop a stronger understanding of recycling in Texas.
  • Outstanding Higher Education – Johnson County Community College (JCCC) in Overland Park, Kansas. JCCC has a tradition of connecting students with work in recycling and diversion through internships at the Center for Sustainability. These efforts have led to partnerships with community organizations, to significant “green” changes on-campus and have increased diversion from 14 percent to 51 percent since 2010, making progress toward JCCC’s “Zero Waste by 2025” goal. Community partnerships have also raised more than $135,000 for scholarships.
  • Outstanding Community or Government Program – The Chapel Hill-Carrboro School District, North Carolina. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District implemented a districtwide compost separation program. In its first full year, the program diverted more than 255,000 pounds from the landfill to a composting facility. In addition, the school district increased recycling rates significantly. The result is a net zero financial program that educates students and their families about composting and waste reduction, the NRC says.
  • Outstanding Community or Government Program, Honorable Mention – city of Columbia, South Carolina, School District. The city of Columbia and recycling coordinator Samantha Yager carried out a citywide conversion from 18-gallon recycling carts to 95-gallon roll carts in record time, moved forward the recycling program and green living initiatives and saved $250,000. 
  • Bill Heenan Emerging Leader – Laurel Stelter of Iowa. Teenager Laurel Stelter has not only participated in the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) event for several years but has also been helping Iowa towns become better stewards of the environment. In 2013, at age 16, Laurel contacted the event’s planners to begin a bottle and can recycling campaign and got recycling going in the towns and event.
  • Lifetime Achievement in Recycling – Meg Morris of Covanta Energy. Morris has dedicated her personal and professional life to the advancement of recycling, the NRC says. She is long-time NRC board member, serving as president, chair, vice president and treasurer, and was a major force in the re-emergence of the NRC, helping organize the rebuilding of the organization and its finances. She has had roles on the boards of directors for NYSAR3 (New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling), the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center, Go Green Initiative, Mass Recycle, America Recycles Day Inc. and the Federation of New York Solid Waste Associations, serving in leadership positions.