Louisiana Lt. Gov. William “Billy” Nungesser’s state has experienced plenty of environmental and natural disasters. During his career, Nungesser has handled environmental issues including rebuilding his parish after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when he was president of Plaquemines Parish, and the cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig spill in 2010. He’s also in tune with the needs of the local economy.

Since taking office in 2016, he has helped guide Louisiana to record-breaking tourism numbers in the last four years prior to COVID-19. A champion of conversation, beautification, and recycling, he was an easy choice for ISRI’s Gulf Coast Regional Chapter to nominate and for the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) selection committee to honor with the 2021 Recycling Impact Award.

Presented by NLGA and sponsored by ISRI, the award is given annually to an NLGA member who is committed to working within a state, region, and/or communities to positively affect resource conservation and recycling.

Alton Schaubhut, vice president of ISRI’s Gulf Coast Regional Chapter, presented the award to Nungesser at the 2021 NLGA Annual Meeting in Point Clear, Ala. The chapter was excited to recognize Nungesser for his work promoting the recycling industry. “[Lt. Governor Nungesser] has an innate ability to strike balance between what is best for nature and putting the environment of the state of Louisiana first, while also supporting local businesses and providing jobs that directly impact the local economy for the better,” Schaubhut noted in his remarks.

Nungesser has developed and cultivated a relationship with the recycling industry in his state for years. He attended ISRI2017 in New Orleans and toured the exhibit hall. After the convention, he met with Louisiana recyclers to learn how his office could help recycling businesses in the state. Nungesser has continued to stay in touch with local recyclers and support local businesses.

During his remarks, Schaubhut highlighted three of the Lt. Governor’s many achievements that have impacted the recycling industry. Nungesser was a cosponsor of the NLGA Recyclables are Not Waste Resolution, affirming that recyclable commodities are valuable and critical inputs to manufacturing. Schaubhut also noted Louisiana is among the eleven states to date that have adopted resolutions recognizing that recycling is essential to their economies. Finally, he commended Nungesser for co-sponsoring the NLGA policy resolution to renew the Recycling Impact Award.

NLGA launched the Recycling Impact Award in 2019 to recognize NLGA members that have demonstrated a commitment to recycling policy. “NLGA members are often involved in projects that are tied to the community. They’re also willing and able to engage with us, listen to what we’re doing, and willing to partner with us on activities,” says Danielle Waterfield, ISRI’s chief policy officer. “The award not only recognizes the notable efforts in promoting recycling within the honoree’s state, but also allows ISRI members to engage with this audience of influential state second-in-command officers in conversations about recycling and share our story.”

Though the award is only in its second year (delayed in 2020 due to COVID-19), it’s been a clear success in engaging ISRI members and establishing relationships with elected officials. In 2019, Jeff Millhollin, CEO of Pacific Steel and Recycling, flew from Montana to Delaware for the NLGA meeting to present the inaugural recycling award to Montana’s lieutenant governor. This year, the Gulf Coast Regional Chapter used the opportunity to invite Nungesser to its 2022 convention in New Orleans.

Waterfield noted Schaubhut had a chance to talk with Nungesser at the NLGA meeting before Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana on Aug. 29. “Lieutenant Governor Nungesser was already in tune with emergency relief operations in the state, and Alton had the opportunity to hear of the state’s early plans from many of his conversations,” she says. “This led to having an open channel of communication through Nungesser’s office for conveying to relief operations the ISRI member facilities that are operational and ready to assist in recovery efforts. You just never know what might come out of these meetings and conversations.”

ISRI hopes its members will continue to stay engaged through the NLGA award and the unique opportunities it affords to connect with state leaders. In his remarks, Schaubhut briefly spoke to the entire group at the NLGA meeting, thanking them for supporting the recycling industry. “We look forward to nominating each and every one of you in the years to come,” he said.

Waterfield hopes these words encourage ISRI members from all chapters to consider their lieutenant governors for next year’s award. “It’s important for our members to understand how imperative it is to get involved on the state and local level of government,” she says. “We look forward to seeing what next year brings.”

Photo courtesy of ISRI. Caption: Alton Schaubhut (left), vice president of ISRI’s Gulf Coast Regional Chapter, presents the 2021 Recycling Impact Award to Lieutenant Governor William “Billy” Nungesser (right) during the 2021 NLGA Annual Meeting in Point Clear, Ala.

Hannah Carvalho

Hannah Carvalho

Hannah Carvalho is the Editorial Director at ReMA. She's interested in a wide range of topics in the recycled materials industry and is always eager to learn more. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in History and a minored in Creative Writing. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband.