The 2021 ISRI Fall Meetings began Monday, Oct. 18, in Charleston, S.C. The meetings run through Wednesday, Oct. 20.

Membership Committee

Brianna Gianti, ISRI’s vice president of membership, provided an update on where membership stands entering the final months of 2021. Membership is on pace to either hit or surpass several of its goals for the year. The Chapter Incentive Program, which was designed to incentivize chapters to bring in new members, has also been extremely successful. Launched in early 2021, that program will continue until ISRI2022 in March 2022.

Gianti teased some exciting new membership initiatives, one of which is expected to be announced in November. She also reminded members that online directory updates are due by Nov. 15. Members can expect an email from ISRI’s membership team with details on how to make those updates.

Membership has been extremely active in welcoming new members, mainly through email communications that include introductions to relevant staff, divisions, and committees. Former ISRI Chair Brian Shine was complimentary of the association’s efforts in making sure that new members feel welcomed from the beginning.

“The way that we’re welcoming new members to this organization is the best that I’ve ever seen,” Shine says. “The consistent effort from national to welcome members and set the roadmap for opportunities to get involved in committee and division meetings is great. Introducing new members also goes a long way. I applaud the efforts being made here.”

Communications Committee

Mark Carpenter, ISRI’s vice president of communications, provided an update on the homepage refresh during the Communications Committee meeting. He noted that a soft launch of the new homepage was scheduled to launch very soon. The new design of the homepage was largely driven by data and how users navigate the site. He encouraged members to continue providing feedback about how to improve the site so that they optimize their time and experience while visiting it.

Rachel Bookman, ISRI’s director of communications, highlighted ISRI’s vast social media efforts. Twitter is the main platform used to share content, but Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram are increasingly being used to disseminate relevant content to members and other readers. The association has also launched several successful campaigns for various events like National Manufacturing Day. Additional resources for members such as toolkits and media and social media guides are also being developed.

Carpenter provided an update on Scrap News. The website, and its accompanying newsletter, continue to perform very well. ISRI launched a monthly photo contest in August, utilizing Scrap News’ photo gallery. Submissions for the October edition are currently being accepted. Carpenter highlighted Scrap News’ live coverage of the 2021 Commodity Roundtables Forum in September. A daily video was also published highlighting each day’s sessions. Scrap News will continue providing coverage of upcoming events such as the Fall ISEC conference, and ISRI2022.

MRF Committee

Danielle Waterfield, ISRI’s chief policy officer, gave an update to the MRF Committee on legislation of concern on the state level. She reviewed packaging EPR bills that have been up for consideration in several states since passed in Maine and Oregon. She also talked about bills concerning recyclability standards, states reviewing post-consumer recycled content, environmental justice and “advanced recycling”, or chemical recycling, legislation.

Justin Short, ISRI’s manager of government relations, provided an update on The Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) public comment period for the revised Draft Glass Minimum Post-Consumer Recycled Content Model Legislation. The public comment period is open from Oct. 11 to Nov. 11 midnight EDT. A webinar will be held on Nov. 3 at 10 a.m. EDT to walk through the Draft Model Legislation and to answer questions. ISRI plans to hold a special working group of MRF Committee members involved in glass processing to develop comments in response to the proposed model legislation.

ISRI encourages members to invite their respective chapter lobbyists to attend the upcoming ISRI State Lobbyist Continuing Education Session. The training will discuss recycling definitions in state laws and their potential impact on member companies, with focuses on “advanced recycling” legislation, post-consumer recycled content mandates, and distinctions between recycling and solid waste. Waterfield also recommended going to ISRI’s State Resources and Tracking page where members can review every piece of legislation ISRI is watching.

Adina Renee Adler, ISRI’s vice president of advocacy, provided an update on international trade for the committee. She discussed Malaysia’s new import guidelines and the approval process suppliers can undergo so they become a “Type 2” supplier which wouldn’t require pre- and post-shipment inspections.

The committee then reviewed its goals and discussed general challenges MRFs are experiencing including lithium-ion batteries. The committee is working with various groups regarding legislation, EPR, and design for recycling to make sure inbound and outbound are considered in legislation.

Paper Division

Chair Shawn State of Pratt Recycling called the meeting to order at 12:30 p.m. EDT. ISRI Senior Safety Director Jerry Sjogren gave a safety message about being mindful of winter slip-and-fall and driving hazards.

Adler updated the division on Malaysia’s new import guidelines for reclaimed paper. The Malaysian government has indicated the European EN 643:2021 Paper and Board standard will be used. Even though the state-owned SIRIM QAS International inspection firm held a webinar in September on the new rules, Adler says the Malaysian government has not stated the date when the guidance will go into force.

Short provided a status check on the 39 states with legislation passed or pending related to paper. California continues to be an area of concern as its legislature and agencies that oversee recycling are pursuing a sweeping regulatory agenda. ISRI is constantly monitoring extended producer responsibility proposals in about half of the states, using the association’s Position on Product Stewardship as a guideline.

The Paper Division, during the summer, denied a request to certify a silicone-release liner proposed by TLMI. After meeting with the company and CELAB in August, CELAB submitted a specification request for a silicone-release liner. The Paper Division has begun the review process and hopes to have a recommendation to the Paper Division in time for the Winter meeting. The Paper Division is seeking input from members on topics for the Paper Spotlight at the March 21-24, 2022, Convention and Expo in Las Vegas. The division keeps consulting with ISRI’s Brands Council on sustainability issues.

Plastics Division

Chair Sunil Bagaria of GDB International presided from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. EDT. In his safety message, Sjogren reminded the group of the importance of wearing seatbelts.

During the legislative update, Short noted 41 states have plastics-related bills in the legislative process or recently enacted. California continues to be an area of special concern due to the number of measures under consideration there. One bill would only allow PET and HDPE collected curbside to be recycled; the rest would go into landfills. The state is almost certain to pass an EPR bill, following Maine and Oregon’s lead. A ballot initiative to tax plastics producers passed the threshold to be put on California’s November 2022 ballot.

All these measures led to a spirited discussion among attendees as to the best course of action. “We need to put ISRI’s weight behind those measures one way or another,” Bagaria says. ISRI President Robin Wiener assured members that the advocacy staff is looking into ways to effectively get all kinds of plastic recognized in new recycling laws. “What we’re finding is that these are connected. These are not one-off issues,” she says.

ISRI Chair-elect Brian Henesy of Rocky Mountain Recycling states this rulemaking environment is why OneISRI is more important than ever. “This is all-encompassing; we’re all in this together,” he observes. “The way the world is going right now, whether you’re [processing] paper, plastic, metal, etc., they all look at us as one. We are one.”

Adler noted that among international movements, activists are pushing for a global treaty on plastics pollution. The Biden administration has not taken a position on this. But ahead of the United Nations Environment Assembly meetings in February 2022, a series of activist-to-industry discussions are occurring.

Photos courtesy of ISRI.