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Over 100 communities in the Northeast U.S. work together to move recovered glass to two downstream outlets. They also found a unique way to communicate the process to the public. By Reagan Bissonnette

At a time when depressed recycling markets and negative news stories about recycling have residents across the country wondering what actually happens to their recyclables, the industry could use a case study that highlights recycling sustainability.

One such example can be found in efforts around glass recovery in the Northeast U.S., where the recycling nonprofit group Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA) has worked with over 100 member communities to reliably move material to fiberglass insulation and glass aggregate end users. In addition, the systems in place are being detailed through digital storytelling, helping residents, government officials and others better understand what happens to the glass material they recycle.


NRRA was founded in...Read more


As an alternative to NRRA’s usual fall bus tour, NRRA Staff and municipal members joined ecomaine staff on January 13 for a private virtual tour of their Portland, Maine facilities followed by a question and answer session about their processes. In one campus, ecomaine runs a single-sort facility since 2006, offers food waste recovery, operates a waste-to-energy plant, and also has room for a landfill on site.

Ecomaine’s goal is the reduction of waste generated; reuse of resources; recycling and employing materials back into the marketplace; composting or digestion of organic waste; creating electricity via waste-to-energy; and landfilling as a last resort. They are a leader in public awareness to provide long-term public waste solutions and serve 450,000 people in 70 communities in southern and central Maine.

Ecomaine switched from dual sort to single-source recycling (when you place all recyclables in one bin at home) in 2006 to...Read more


In response to questions from our members, NRRA reviewed the available information about when solid waste operators can expect to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and how to handle disposal of any vaccine waste received at transfer stations.

Availability of COVID-19 Vaccine for Solid Waste Operators

The availability of the COVID-19 vaccine for solid waste operators varies by state. In New Hampshire and Vermont , the vaccine distribution plans do not provide a specific category for solid waste operators. Instead, solid waste operators will have access to the vaccine depending primarily on age and medical vulnerability based on a range of underlying medical conditions. In Massachusetts , sanitation and public works staff are included in Phase 2 of priority (out of 3 phases) and can expect to receive the vaccine in February or March 2021.

In New Hampshire, "first...Read more


Shannon Choquette , Outreach Coordinator of NRRA municipal member Northeast Kingdom Waste Management District in Vermont, spoke with NRRA recently about their successful food scraps composting program . In addition to managing solid waste and recycling, they assist in collecting totes of food scraps from 23 Vermont communities , and then sending those scraps to farms to be composted. The goal is to reduce tonnage going to Vermont’s landfill.

Some of these community-to-farm partnerships go back to 2007, when the district started a pilot project to offer food scrap collection at recycling centers, providing an easy drop-off location for residents to voluntarily dispose of food scraps. This program was easy to start, since NEKWMD’s truck drivers visit the recycling center s weekly to collect recyclables. The drivers were trained to safely pick up the totes and pre-screen them for contaminants.

The program, which now reaches...Read more


A NH-based company recently reached out to NRRA looking for ways to reduce their production carbon footprint and make better choices in packaging. Headquartered in Peterborough, NH, SoClean was originally known for its sleep equipment maintenance device and now sells indoor air purifiers and device disinfectors.

NRRA's Education Manager, Heather Herring, virtually presented to members of the SoClean team including distribution center, operations, and marketing staff. She reviewed where NH garbage goes, the current recycling markets, and the basics of extended producer responsibility. Then she fielded questions on how to better manage their resources, disposal options, recycling and how SoClean may consider product design and product end of life. Recycling with results is easy once a new standard operating procedure is set in place.

NRRA staff also enjoy directing people to our website, which has a lot to offer for both our municipal members as well as commercial...Read more


A good crowd of well-wishers attended NRRA's monthly MOM meeting virtually to listen to Dennis Patnoe present about the history of Lancaster, NH's Transfer Station. Several volunteered their words of thanks and congratulations upon his retirement as the Station Supervisor at the end of this month. Dennis was awarded NRRA's highest honor of the Sam Izzo "Recycler of the Year" Award in 1994 and has served on NRRA's board of trustees for 18 years.

Lancaster, NH's station began in 1942 next to the town burn dump and transitioned into a landfill in the 1960s. Dennis remembers that he heard there was an opening at the station in 1997and started asking questions to the Town Manager at the time. Once they knew he was interested, they asked him when he would start! He has been there for the last twenty-four years. When he began work, there was one storage trailer...Read more

By Annie Ropeik, NHPR Reporter

The region’s recyclers are encouraging towns to cut costs during the economic downturn of COVID-19 by trying new ways of reusing their glass.

Reagan Bissonnette is executive director of the nonprofit Northeast Resource Recovery Association. She says it’s been a couple of years since the sudden closure of the region’s main facility, in Massachusetts, that recycled glass bottles and jars.

Since then, she says more towns have been sending their glass to landfills, adding weight and expense to their trash hauling costs even during the economic strain of the pandemic.

Bissonnette wants more towns to take advantage of cheaper, local options that she says get more value out of that glasss.

Her group helps towns send glass to Canada to become fiberglass insulation, or have it crushed – along with glass-like products such as ceramics and Pyrex – into an aggregate...Read more

Put Your Food to Work!

With the cost of garbage going up, up, up, what is one of the best ways to keep the weight out of your waste and help your town recycling facility? It turns out for every five bags of groceries you buy, the equivalent of two of them gets thrown out because 40% of food is wasted all along the food supply chain ( USDA ). In a waste audit at Fuller School in Keene, 62% of the weight of their trash was food scraps (NRRA).

The City of Keene approached the Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA) because the City is interested in how to decrease tonnage sent to the landfill and educate the public on the value of composting. NRRA is a recycling and waste reduction nonprofit that enables communities to manage their own recycling programs. We work with recycling facility members to...Read more


The Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA) has announced the recipients of its 2019-2020 School Recycling Club Awards. The award winners are:

School Recycler of the Year Award – Maple Street Elementary School, Contoocook, NH Teacher Recycler of the Year Award – Chris Asbell, Somersworth Middle School, Somersworth, NH Student Recyclers of the Year Award – Girl Scout Troop 11305, Fuller Elementary School, Keene, NH

NRRA’s School Recycling Club (the Club) is a program for all schools in New England (and beyond). Designed for students and teachers in grades K-12, the Club enables schools to become more active in the world of recycling. Through its workshops, technical assistance, and recycling curricula, the Club is a fun and innovative way to give students encouragement, direction and networking opportunities to enhance school recycling programs. The Club is supported in part by New Hampshire the Beautiful, a non-profit funded by food and beverage...Read more

It certainly was the year for residents to clean out their garages, basements, and cabinets! NRRA coordinated 17 Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Events in 2020. Member communities offered them from April to November and nearly 18,000 gallons of HHW was collected from NH residents in total. The photo shows examples of what was collected at a Warner, NH event. Most events occurred on a Saturday morning from 8am - noon but some were held on Sundays. Notes from 2020 events that were highlighted this year: More HHW material was collected than normal as residents were thoroughly cleaning out their homes. Our HHW vendor required residents to stay in their vehicles, so it was important to point this out during pre-event education and provide clear signage at the event. Town staff made sure that traffic patterns were clear. Bottled water was requested for vendor staff. Bathroom facilities were made available for...Read more