Resource Recycling News

NRC to “accelerate” talk around sustainable materials management

The National Recycling Coalition has announced the inaugural Sustainable Materials Management Summit.

Slated to take place May 12-13 at University of Maryland, College Park, the Summit will aim to foster a broader national dialogue on the topic, said NRC’s board president, Mark Lichtenstein.

“Ultimately we want to accelerate sustainable materials management (SMM) as a method of choice for avoiding the generation of discarded material,” Lichtenstein said in an announcement. “At this Summit, a focus will be on the sustainable management of materials that have been discarded.”

Approximately 200 industry members will convene in Maryland for the event. By the end of the meeting, NRC hopes to have the beginnings of a “SMM National Plan” to further coordinate materials management throughout the waste industry, incorporating local, state and federal governments alongside trade and nonprofit groups and businesses.

The U.S. EPA defines SMM as “a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles.” That approach includes the design of materials and products as well as enhancing the durability, lifespan and recyclability of goods.

“It’s all about redesigning to eliminate products and packaging that currently are a problem to use productively,” said NRC board member Gary Liss. “A key for the future is highlighting how important it is to focus on some of the upstream activities beyond recycling that will support recyclers getting their job done better, eliminating the difficult-to-recycle products by redesigning those out of the stream and helping to develop new markets and innovative uses for materials, products and packaging that hasn’t been done heretofore.”

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