Member Spotlight: Midwest Fiber
Member Midwest Fiber Recycling has announced plans to partner with Amp Robotics (based in Colorado) to install four additional robotic sorters at its material recovery facility (MRF) in Normal. Since the opening of the plant in 2011, Midwest Fiber Recycling has seen volumes at the site more than quadruple, processing more than 108 million pounds of recyclable material last year from residents throughout Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. With growth expected to continue and success Midwest Fiber has had with two Amp robotic sorters installed 2021, the decision to make this significant investment makes sense.

“The robots are intended for high-turnover positions in our operation,” Director of MRF Operations Aaron Harmon says. “We expect they will help us improve safety, increase material recovery and reduce contamination through the operation.” Midwest Fiber Recycling began operations at a single site in Decatur, Illinois, in 1990 and has expanded to include recycling facilities in Normal, Peoria, Springfield, Champaign-Urbana and Terre Haute, Indiana. Currently, the company has nearly 150 employees processing about 7 million pounds of material every week, offering recycling options for paper, cardboard, plastic, nonferrous metals and single-stream curbside recyclables. They have been active members of the IRA and IRF, hosting board meetings, and serving on several boards over the years. We are looking forward to touring their site on June 14th as part of this year's IRF Conference. Be sure to mark your calendar.
Founded in 1999, Helping Hands is a for-profit company focused on reuse and recycling that collects unwanted textiles and resells them in the U.S. and internationally. They effectively divert millions of pounds of clothing from landfills, while generating new revenue streams for local businesses and non-profits and fueling local economies in emerging countries. Together with affiliates they offer over 10,000 collection bins in 9 states. They collected 50 million pounds of clothing, shoes in 2018. Headquartered in Chicago and operating 9 division offices, the corporation employs over 100 people. Helping Hands is dedicated to keeping their bin locations free of trash and responding to maintenance requests within 24 hours. They have proven that hosting a bin is a great way to support the local community. Clothing and textile recycling encourages the development of additional markets and results in less pollution, energy savings, and reduces the demand for dyes and fixing agents.

In keeping with their motto, Account Representative Gina Peshek said, “Together with Illinois Recycling Foundation we are making a difference!” To learn more, visit their website.
Meet Christina Seibert, who was appointed by the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) Board of Directors to serve as its new executive director beginning in January 2022. Christina stepped into the role previously held by Dave Van Vooren, who retired in April 2022 after giving the Agency steady leadership for 11 years with grace, understanding, and a healthy dose of patience, coupled with a comfortable smile. Christina brings more than 20 years of solid waste expertise, having consulted to both local governments and private industry in northeastern Illinois and throughout the U.S. on planning and development projects.

Christina is active in a number of organizations, including Vice President of the Illinois Chapter of SWANA and board member since 2005; SWANA training course instructor and Applied Research Foundation contributor; Chair of the Illinois Electronics Recycling Task Force; Co-chair of the Illinois Recycling Contamination Solutions Task Force; member of the Illinois Product Stewardship Council; and a member of the Policy Committee of the Illinois Food Scrap and Composting Coalition. She presented at the Illinois Recycling Foundation's Conference last August. For more information about SWNACC, go to https://www.swancc.org.
CERA Opt-in Deadline Approaching
Counties need to OPT-IN to CERA by March 1

The recent in-person Covered Electronics Recycling Act (CERA) workshop in Bloomington-Normal featured a variety of speakers covering everything from an explanation of the law, the Clearinghouse role in meeting the requirements of the law, a sampling of approaches to providing service through County and private electronic recycling businesses to residents. If you are interested in assisting your County or City in providing service, please let them know immediately so they may be able to include you in their Opt-in documents for the 2024 calendar year. These forms are required to be turned in by March 1, 2023. Here is the link.
Upcoming Webinar
WEBINAR February 16 - 10am to Noon
Learn the latest news on plastic bags at this webinar featuring information on Chicago's approach to reducing plastic bags with their 7-cent fee, and how some retailers voluntarily take back plastic film, not just bags from their own stores but an array of plastic film covering everything from bread to toilet paper rolls. Trex will be joining the conversation to explain the products they make with recovered plastic film. After shutting down the collections during COVID, many have asked if the system is working. Is the fee truly reducing the number of bags being used? What can be done to improve consumer understanding and participation? Speakers include Stephanie Hicks, Trex, Jordan Parker, Founder of the Triveni Institute, Mark Stumpf, Alliance to End Plastic Waste, John Wilson, Amcor Flexibles North America, and John Bernardo, from the large grocery chain Albertsons, which owns Jewel.
Thank you to our Webinar Sponsor: The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) is the voice of the U.S. manufacturers of flexible packaging and their suppliers. The association’s mission is connecting, advancing, and leading the flexible packaging industry. Flexible packaging represents over $39 billion in annual sales in the U.S. and is the second-largest and one of the fastest-growing segments of the packaging industry. Flexible packaging is produced from paper, plastic, film, aluminum foil, or any combination of those materials, and includes bags, pouches, labels, liners, wraps, rollstock, and other flexible products.
Thank you to the Flexible Packaging Association for sponsoring this month's Plastic Film: Fact v. Fiction webinar. Each month, the IRF hosts educational webinars. The Board of Director's wants to make these free to all, including non-members. This is not possible without sponsors. Become a leader by sponsoring an educational and thought-provoking webinar! These webinars address a variety of topics in the recycling, composting and reuse industry. If you have an idea for a topic and wish to sponsor, please contact Sue Steilen at executivedirector@illinoisrecycles.org.
Carton Council Announces
2023 Community Education Grants
Carton Council Offers up to $5,000 for effective carton recycling education efforts to communities. Any entity or organization that is authorized to educated residents about their local recycling program. This includes community or country recycling departments and solid waste authorities, haulers, or even materials recovery facilities (MRFs). Please visit their website to learn more.
Legislative Update from IRA
The deadline for the Senate's bills has now passed with many more bills released and the House finishing their releases this week. The IRA is keeping their eyes on a few and believes many IRF members should be doing the same.

  • SB52- Compost Awareness Week, makes recognition a yearly occurrence.
  • SB58- Degradable Plastic Single-Use (impacts state agencies, requires a reduction policy)
  • SB66- Truth in Recycling bill (Addresses recycling confusion, creates strict label standards)
  • SB85 - A variation on the Bottle Deposit backed by can manufacturers.
  • SB100 - A ban on plastic Foam, focus on single-use foam.
  • SB147 - Paint Stewardship EPR bill.
  • SB1358 - expands composting.
  • SB2211 - Plastic Bag Ban bill.
  • HB1370 - Large Event Facilities required to recycle.
  • HB1398 - Lithium Battery bill.
  • HB1555 - Packaging EPR bill.

IRA looks forward to working with IRF to survey members and plan a March webinar on some of these bills. As always, you are encouraged to support this effort by joining at the $500 level as both a full member of IRF and IRA.

HB1370 Solid Waste-Event Facilities - Support

Please submit a witness slip in support of this recycling legislation. This Bill provides that the amendatory Act may be referred to as the Large Event Waste Law. Amends the Solid Waste Planning and Recycling Act. Provides that, on and after January 1, 2025, an owner or operator of an event facility that has a maximum legal capacity or occupancy of at least 3,000 persons and that receives funding from the State of Illinois shall participate in the recycling program established by the county in which the event facility is located and shall send recyclable materials to a recycling center. Defines "event facility".
IRA Board Member Elections

All IRA members will be receiving an email ballot to elect new Board members within the coming weeks. The following individuals will be on the ballot for two-year terms:

Heather Burgess, GDB International
KJ Loerop, LRS
Lisa Kneller, Kuusakoski

There are 5 members remaining on the IRA Board in fulfillment of their two year terms. They are:
Dan Rudman, Taz Recycling
Joe Volini, Heartland Recycling
Frank Ward, III, Recycling It
Marta Keane, Will County
Kevin Loerffler, Waste Box

We are accepting nominations, to fill up to four more seats and are striving to have representatives from all areas of membership. Please let us know if you care about legislation and are interested in serving.
IRF Annual Membership Drive Last Chance to Renew
We appreciate your support of our organization and mission. If you have not renewed for 2023, you will no longer receive all of our news and updates. Please renew your membership today. Renewal notices were sent in November. If you have not received yours, please contact Sue Steilen our Executive Director or any one of our Board Members.

Consider becoming an Event Sponsor or upgrade to the $2,000 Benefactor status, so we can continue to provide the informative newsletters, insight and connections that you have come to expect. Call or email with any special needs or questions. Thank you for all you do for recycling and composting, along with your continued support.
A Note from the IRF President, Marta Keane

Time is flying as we finish membership renewal season and plan the June Conference in Bloomington/Normal with talk of exciting tours and dynamic speakers. We welcome all our members to contact us if you are interested in speaking, exhibiting and, of course, sponsoring! We are depending on IRA to keep us up to date with the latest legislative session, which seems to be heating up with in-person negotiations and committee meetings. This year has a number of bills that could significantly impact nearly ALL of our members. If you haven't contributed to IRA, consider increasing your dues to cover their efforts. Our split to become IRF and IRA is officially 2.5 years old but given the long history of the IRA, many people are still surprised we are the Foundation. Recently, I signed two letters of support for grants being submitted the the U.S.EPA and have high hopes that they will rise to the top in this highly competitive process as they have the ability to further the IRF's educational mission substantially. Please know we are ready to assist if any of our members are successful in their grant efforts, utilizing our newsletter, social media and webinar outreach tools. May all of us continue to improve our reuse and recycling foundation together.
Thank You to Our 2023 Benefactors!

Consider adding your logo here. Become a 2023 BENEFACTOR for $2000.
If you have already joined and would like to upgrade to this status, send an email to executivedirector@illinoisrecycles.org
Seeking Committee Members
As an IRF member, you are eligible to participate in one or more of our active committees. These committees tend to meet four to six times a year. Currently, with the start of a new Board term, all committees are seeking new members to participate. Upcoming committee meetings will focus discussion on the development of committee goal(s) for the 2023 membership year.

To view committee meeting times, please view the IRF Committee Calendar. If you are interested in joining a committee, please contact Sue Steilen and the committee chair as listed below.
C & D, Ron Tazelaar
Electronics, Luke Fikejs
Legislative, Ron Tazelaar
Regional Outreach, Adena Rivas
Communications, Marta Keane
Social Justice/Diversity, Mike Nowak
Education, Bert Jacobson
Textile Reuse, Gina Peshek
Traditional MRF, Aaron Harmon
Organics/Composting, John Lardner
Illinois State University has been selected as our host site for the 2023 IRF Annual Conference! Over the coming months, we will be securing speakers, room blocks and tours. Please stay tuned for updates and let us know topics of interest to you.

Are you interested in becoming an early sponsor? Contact our Executive Director today!
You can show off in a press release or simply show us your everyday operation. Either way, we can utilize your photos on social media and on our website. We are asking IRF Members to send photos of their recycling and collection operations. Pictures can be of office collection, residential drop-off, MRF sorting lines, curbside service, someone placing items in recycle bins, reuse events, compost operations, etc. Please send jpeg/jpg pictures to info@illinoisrecycles.org.

Illinois City Upgrades Recycling Program

LaSalle, Illinois, has been selected to receive an investment of $55,500 from the U.S. beverage industry that will be combined with $4.5 million in city funds to improve the community's curbside recycling system and provide 3,700 households with carts. Click to read more.

Enough to go around?

Growing competition for copper scrap could affect U.S. national security.

Read more
10 Million Tennis Balls Recycled
Ten million tennis balls have been recycled by RecycleBalls, the leading tennis ball recycling organization in North America. Equating to 639 US tons of repurposed and recycled tennis balls. More than 1,000 tennis facilities and 5,000 individuals . . .

Study Compares PET Recycling Methods

A study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory evaluated various PET recycling methods from technical economic and environmental standpoints to provide a big picture overview of today's options. The research, published by the . . .

Compost Research College Scholarships
The Compost Research & Education Foundation offers annual scholarships to college students to assist with their compost research projects. The scholarship is available for undergraduate through PhD students studying at a college or university in the United States. The scholarship is for $4,000, and also includes an invitation to present research findings at a US Composting Council Annual Conference during a CREF research session. Travel expenses are included. Learn more

  • Become a Sponsor now to have your annual membership included.

  • Be sure to block this time for being an Exhibitor or simply attending.

  • We had a great turn out at the 2022 in-person conference and expect a larger one in 2023. See old friends and make some new ones at this amazing networking event

  • Let us know what topics you want to learn more about, sessions are being planned now. If you have a topic you wish to present, send us some details and the committee will consider it.
Job Postings
University of Illinois Summer Internships
In collaboration with the Graduate College’s Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP), PRI is offering hands-on summer internships that will enable undergraduate students from populations underrepresented in graduate study at Illinois to explore careers in applied science. This opportunity is open to students at any U.S. undergraduate institution.

We encourage members to view our Member Directory where many websites lead to job postings. Visit the IRF Membership Directory and find member's websites to see their job listings.

Second Posting for Will County Resource Recovery & Energy Intern
The Conservation Foundation is hiring a part-time, year-round, youth programs manager
"Sooner or later, everything old is new again."

~ Stephen King


Illinois Recycling Foundation / Illinois Recycling Association, PO Box 411, Geneva IL 60134
708 358 0050