[GRRN] Why I Think CRRA should Affiliate with NRC

Mon, 25 Oct 1999 13:51:12 EDT

Why I Support California Resource Recovery Association
Affiliation with the National Recycling Coalition

Richard V. Anthony
Former NRC and CRRA Board Member

It is my style to deliver information in a dialectic format. I like to
explain to the reader, what I think it was, what I think it is, and what I
think it will be. In this case, I am writing a persuasive piece on why as a
member of the California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA), I will vote
for affiliation with the National Recycling Coalition (NRC). For those of
you who have heard my version of the origins of the NRC, I urge you to skip
to the seventh paragraph where I explain why I think affiliation is good.

The post WW II origins of activism in resource conservation and recycling
start with the League of Women Voters and the American Association of
University Women. Their efforts helped connect waste and recycling with the
first Earth Day in 1970. With the passage of the Federal Solid Waste
Management Act, the Resource Recovery Act and finally in 1976, the Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act, a new industry of suburban collectors of post
consumer recyclables joined the existing international recycling industries.

In 1980, on Earth Day, in Fresno, California, with the help of Denis Hayes,
the first National Recycling Congress was held. The event was sponsored by
the Committee for a National Recycling Policy, the United States
Environmental Protection Agency, the California Resource Recovery
Association, the California Solid Waste Management Board and the Fresno
Clovis Metropolitan Solid Waste Commission. In Fresno, many of the group of
about 600, agreed to work through a National Recycling Coalition to pursue a
variety of interests including a National Recycling Policy.

As the President of CRRA in the eighties and three years into the Nineties, I
was directed by the CRRA Board to keep a California presence in this new
coalition and help form a National Recycling Policy. Through CRRA efforts,
State Assemblyman Sam Farr initiated a resolution that was passed by the
California Legislature requesting the US Congress to develop a National
Recycling Policy. CRRA developed the first draft of the policy and was
instrumental in getting a consensus approval of the document at the 1986 NRC
Congress in Seattle.

During the time I was President of CRRA (1981-1993), I was also NRC Vice
President and Policy Chair, and a member of the NRC Board of Directors. As
time went on, it became increasingly harder for the nonprofit advocacy groups
to afford to attend NRC Board Meetings, and the Board makeup began to be
primarily Industry and Government representatives. The conversion of the NRC
from a volunteer Board with working committees in 1990 to a Board with a
professional staff, changed the direction of the NRC Board from
micromanagement of issues to fundraising.

In 1998, I was nominated for the Board again by a former NRC President and an
existing Nonprofit Board member and was rejected by the slate committee. On
appeal, the reason stated for my rejection was that my activist traits were
not what the slate committee thought would be conducive of a board member in
the new millennium. One CRRA Board member recently told me that he would
vote for affiliation when I was put on the slate.

(7) The beauty of American democracy can be seen in the development and
interaction of working coalitions. A coalition is a collection of diverse
organizations with common interests. In a coalition, the uniqueness of each
group remains while common goals are pursued. The NRC functions this way.

One has just to attend a NRC Congress. This annual event, called a Congress
in Fresno, has always been to get all parts of the industry together and find
what areas we have in common, and where we can work together to support
common issues. I have never missed a NRC Congress. Each year I look forward
to hearing what my colleagues are doing, and each year I find new ways and
projects that we can work on, together.

The NRC Congress is an important recycling event. The CRRA needs to be a
part of this annual national event. The neglect of the American education
system to properly prepare management and labor for resource management
issues and methodologies, has made the NRC and the State Recycling
Conferences important information and training events for our industry. The
CRRA is now, and needs to be in the future, in the forefront of providing
recycling information and training programs.

The reorganization of the NRC gives political power to the State Recycling
Organizations (SRO's). The CRRA is the oldest SRO, and at one time had the
most NRC memberships. The SRO's in the last five years have been polled and
are unanimous without exception in their support for a national recycling
policy, ending virgin materials tax subsidies, and requiring national minimum
recycled material content standards. The SRO's will steer the NRC in the
future in national advocacy of these issues. The CRRA has never sat out any
of these issues in the past and should not do so now.

As far as an activism agenda within the NRC, the dollars sent to NRC by the
SRO's will reduce dependence on the need for vested interest donations. The
concept is a reversal of the old Federalist trick of divide and control. In
this case, the vested interests are forced to deal with the recyclers at the
State level in each SRO. This could facilitate bottom up consensus making.

CRRA sponsorship of a National Congress in California in the next decade will
allow the current revolution in California materials management to be viewed
and evaluated.

Finally, Will Ferretti told me that if California affiliates with NRC, he
would consider my request that NRC donate funds to the Grassroots Recycling

Based on our history and the issues on the table I will vote for affiliation
for the following reasons.

The cost of affiliation is low compared to the payoff. If we can achieve the
three SRO consensus policy actions; a national recycling policy, ending
virgin materials subsidies, and establishing national minimum content
requirements through a united coalition, lets do it.

The Grassroots Recycling Network (GRRN) and the NRC are compatible. GRRN
provides information and new ideas to the public forum for debate and action.
NRC and the SRO's facilitate the debate. The SRO's unite in coalition
action. GRRN unites consumer action.

The agreement is clear that if CRRA and NRC come to an insurmountable
impasse, each can give thirty days notice and withdraw from the agreement.

As for me, I had a great time at the NRC Congress in Cincinnati as an
exhibitor. My sense is that the grassroots is with us and ready. CRRA
members and leadership should take advantage of this opportunity to build the
national agenda. To that one CRRA Board member concerned about my national
leadership role, I will continue to act as a recycler. That is where the
action is!

Richard V. Anthony is an independent consultant and a member of the Board of
Directors of the Grassroots Recycling Network, the Global Recycling Council
of the California Resource Recovery Association and Keep California
Beautiful. He can be contacted at RicAnthony@aol.com