2017 NRRA Annual Conference & Expo Recap

The 36th Annual NRRA Recycling Conference & Expo was  Great Success!

Thank you to all who attended, exhibited, presented and/or sponsored this year’s event, we couldn’t have done it without you!

Back to the Future for Recycling…It’s Time! The NRRA Team poses in with the Shea DeLorean at our 2017 Annual Conference

On May 22-23, 2017 NRRA hosted over 700 attendees, speakers and exhibitors at the 36th Annual Conference and Expo at The Radisson Hotel in Manchester, NH. While the recycling industry is struggling to combat issues such as organics/compost waste management, hauler & trucking shortages, flat recovery volumes and contamination issues, attendees were upbeat and chose sessions that gave them the opportunity to learn insights and updates from industry experts.  This year’s conference theme was “Back to the Future for Recycling…It’s Time.

The keynote speech by John Casella, Chairman & CEO of Casella Waste Management was an inspiring start to the conference schedule.  With over 40 years of experience in the waste management and resource recovery industry, Mr. Casella is considered a leading authority on sustainable materials management throughout New England.


On day one, attendees heard sessions on the current status of the fiber (paper) market, Plastics recycling, Solid Waste Environmental Excellence Protocol (SWEEP), opportunities and threats to organics management in NH and VT, a new state of the art transfer station in Derry, NH, Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law (ACT 148), a waste diversion pilot program, NH solid waste operator training, E-waste,  contamination in recycling and how to reduce it, implementing a commercial organics waste ban, and maximizing the value of scrap metal.  These workshops were presented by industry leaders from across the Nation.

Ray Dube (NHtB) Presents Joan Cudworth of Hollis with the 2017 NHtB Environmental Stewardship Award

The Awards Luncheon on Monday, May 22nd honored 11 individuals and towns on their recycling efforts.  We are proud of all the award winners, especially Joan Cudworth (Hollis, NH) and Sally Hyland(Nashua, NH).  Joan was given the Environmental Stewardship Award from NH the Beautiful for her efforts not only as a highly effective Transfer Station Manager but as a steward of recycling in her work with the Hollis Brookline Schools.  Sally was a unanimous selection for the Sami Izzo Recycler of the Year Award. NRRA presents this award each year in remembrance of Sami Izzo who passed away in 2001.  She was a high energy, multi-talented individual who was known for her contributions

Bonnie Bethune (R), NRRA, Presents Sally Hyland (L), Nashua, with the 2017 Sami Izzo Recycler of the Year Award

in the world of waste reduction and recycling. This Award is given to the individual who best combines the qualities of commitment, leadership and enthusiasm in developing and sustaining an environmentally and financially sound solid waste management program.  Sally has been involved in recycling long before recycling was “cool”.  Her steadfastness and dedication to the environment goes leagues beyond a job or even a livelihood.  View the full list of recipients and their accomplishments.

Throughout the day the exhibit hall buzzed as attendees met with a wide variety of vendors and exhibitors focused on recycling equipment, plastics, organics, waste management, single stream, C&D and metals – plus much more. That evening, during a reception that included live entertainment, appetizers and beverages, NRRA Executive Director, Mike Durfor, thanked the over 40 exhibitors, many of whom have been exhibiting at this event for over 10 years, for their continued support.  In keeping with the, “Back to the Future” theme, there was a DeLorean Time Machine complete with flux capacitor on display!  Attendees were invited to have their pictures taken with the DeLorean and movie themed props in return for a $5.00 donation to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.  A total of over $500 was raised and donated to the cause.

On day two, the main conference continued with sessions about plastic film recycling & market development, organics and composting, hidden treasures in scrap piles, paint recycling programs, processed glass aggregate, construction and demolition waste, prevention of hearing loss in the workplace, and solid waste record keeping.

In addition, NRRA hosted what it refers to as the “conference within a conference”.   The 8th Annual School Recycling Conference was on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017. Students and teachers from across NH, Ma, VT and even Indiana gave the hall a fun buzz. Students played educational games focused on recycling and composting, as well as attended sessions on Campbell High School’s (Litchfield, NH) successful recycling program, backyard composting at school, eliminating food waste in schools, greening your school from the inside, Earth Day celebration ideas and more.  USDA Grant Manager and NRRA School Club educator, Cindy Sterling, held a workshop that introduced new school curricula developed by NRRA, “The 3 R’s of the Common Core” and “Teaching Toxins”. Students and teachers also participated in a hands-on activity called a (mini) “TOLD” (Trash on the Lawn Day) which took trash from the venue and sorted it out to see how much of it could have been diverted from the waste stream by recycling or composting.



An awards luncheon on Tuesday featured a special keynote speech by Hollis Brookline High School Senior, Allie Campbell.  Ms. Campbell inspired all in attendance with her speech, “How One Student can Facilitate Change” which explained how she initiated a plastic film waste program in Hollis.  Following her presentation, Allie was awarded NRRA’s Outstanding Student Recycler of the Year Award.  Eight other NRRA School CLUB awards were presented to highly deserving students, teachers and facilities management personnel during the awards luncheon.  To see the full list click here
Attendees raved about the quality of sessions, the keynote speaker, the delicious breakfast, lunch and snacks.  An old friend, Kermit dropped in to give us his “thumbs up” approval on this year’s event as well!  This year’s event was extremely successful and we thank all who attended, exhibited, presented and sponsored the 36th Annual Conference.

The closing remarks from Executive Director Mike Durfor summed up the two day conference:

 “Given the inspiration of these school accomplishments here in New Hampshire, the Northeast, and around the country, it is truly humbling and inspiring to see the good work of the next generation of resource recyclers.

 What do the following have in common?

 Flat Screen TV’s
Video Conferencing
3-D Movies
Flying Cars
Personal Drones
Mobile device bill payment
Video glasses
Compost fueled cars
Dehydrated food
The Cubs win the World Series!

  They were all conceived as part of the Back to the Future Movies starting in 1985! If the Back to the Future Movies can invent these just imagine what the Allie’s of the recycling world will develop over time!

 With the help of all of the NRRA awardees, today’s school heroes and all of you, recycling will never be “old hat” but an ever present habit.

 In summary, regardless of whether or not the rest of the Back to the Future predictions all come to pass, “It’s time for Recycling” will always be true!”

Meanwhile, there is no rest for the weary NRRA Team.  We are already planning the 2018 Conference which will be held on May 21st and 22nd at the Radisson in Manchester once again next year!

Kermit gives the 2017 NRRA Annual Recycling Conference a “thumbs up”. A special thanks to Patrick Shea & Jeff Demers who provided the Back to the Future DeLorean Exhibit. All proceeds raised from memorabilia & photos was donated to The Michael J. Fox Foundation.


NRRA would like to thank the our Media Partners for including our Annual Conference information in their publications.  Be sure to visit out Media Partner Tab for links to each of their websites!




Comments are closed.