Member Spotlight: SMI
With locations in Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis and Wisconsin, along with nearly 40 additional locations throughout North America, Strategic Materials, Incorporated is the dominant force in glass recycling. They turn residential and commercial glass into a variety of products, including fiberglass, cleaning abrasives, highway materials, and, of course, glass bottles to complete the full circle. Glass food and beverage containers have long been proven to hold the true flavor of the products they contain and glass is the original recycled container.

Today, glass faces many challenges in the recovery process due to its weight and abrasiveness. Strategic Materials works with MRFs that produce glass already sorted by color and highly rated to MRFs with glass that is contaminated with plastics and bits of paper or dirt that fall through the systems which are designed to drop glass early in the sorting process. As with all commodities, the better the quality, the more SMI pays the MRF and, for the lower quality, the MRF pays SMI. The important take away is glass markets are steady, always running and capable to fulfilling the goal of a circular economy. SMI has been a proud member of the Illinois Recycling Foundation for many years and this marks their second year as a Benefactor Member.
Professor Rafac Goes to Washington

Joliet Junior College's Sustainability Coordinator and Architecture/Construction Management Professor, Maria Anne Rafac, was one of 60 people from across the country and the only person from Illinois invited to a two-day summit on national sustainability efforts across campuses and the communities they serve. Representing IGEN, the Illinois Green Economy Network, Maria was honored to be a part of such an historic undertaking, sharing what is happening across Illinois community colleges with other attendees, federal leaders and over 700 online viewers. Among the many topics discussed, was the role local colleges can play in addressing climate adaption solutions in partnership with the cities and counties where they are located.
Illinois Construction and Demolition Sites

A number of members of the Illinois Recycling Foundation specialize in Construction and Demolition Recycling. These firms recover wood, metal, bricks, concrete, rock, stone and shingles. They are often able to compete with haulers that only offer landfilling options because they are able to market materials or find locations that take them for fill. Drywall tends to be the most challenging material as it can cause odors when ground through processing and becoming part of the "fines" that must be landfilled. According to the Gypsum Board Association, "An estimated 10 percent of the gypsum board necessary for a new building ends up as scrap." If the construction crews are careful, keeping gypsum board scrap from the other construction materials, a recycler can remove the paper facer and recycle the gypsum as an additive to concrete, plaster, and stucco. The core material can be reused as a soil amendment, as a water treatment to settle suspended clay particles and added to animal bedding to absorb moisture. Research is being conducted on incorporating gypsum core into large scale composting efforts.
Solar Cells, Wind Turbines and Batteries are difficult to recycle and often expensive. Join the Illinois EPA, Institute for Sustainable Technology and the Illinois Product Stewardship Council for some presentations and discussions on solving these difficult product end-of-life issues that may include reuse and recycling options.
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
JOIN US JUNE 12-14, 2023
  • Become a Sponsor now!

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  • Register to Attend Now!

Legislative Update from IRA
Deadlines are going to have an impact this week at the Senate must send bills to the House for action or they could die for this session. The IRA is keeping tabs on several and expects some be successful. If you missed the IRF webinar on the Packaging EPR bills and the Bottle Deposit/Refund bill, please visit the website to hear the presentations, including the glass manufacturers comments on both. Below are bills you may look up on the state legislative website for the most up-to-date information communities.

  • SB52 - Compost Awareness Week, makes recognition a yearly occurrence.
  • SB58- Degradable Plastic Single-Use (impacts state agencies, requires a reduction policy) This bill is making headway.
  • SB66 - Truth in Recycling bill (Addresses recycling confusion, creates strict label standards)
  • SB85 - Beverage Container Refunds Act, a variation on the Bottle Deposit backed by can manufacturers. It has been adding co-sponsors.
  • SB100 - A ban on food service plastic Foam from retailers. The HB version passed the House.
  • SB147 - Paint Stewardship EPR bill. Expected in Committee with some industry support.
  • SB1358 - Expands composting on farms, with less permit requirements.
  • SB2211 - Plastic Bag Ban bill.
  • SB1398 - Lithium Battery recycling bill.
  • HB1370 - Large Event Facilities required to recycle, amendments being added.
  • HB1555 - Packaging EPR bill. Passed first reading, under negotiation.
  • HB2569 - Compost Procurement bill. Requires the State to use compost in some situations. This is making progress and supported.
  • HB3597 - EV Truck bill. Intended to support business use of electric trucks. This bill is making progress.
Biden-Harris Administration Announces Availability of $16 Million for Pollution Prevention in Environmental Justice Communities

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of $16 million for two new grant opportunities to support states and Tribes in providing technical assistance to businesses seeking to develop and adopt pollution prevention (P2) practices that advance environmental justice in underserved communities. EPA has published two Request for Applications for P2 investments, which were made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including the Pollution Prevention Grant: Environmental Justice in Communities, and the Pollution Prevention Grant: Environmental Justice Through Safer and More Sustainable Products programs. More information.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the availability of up to $9.5 million for compost and food waste reduction pilot projects for the fiscal year 2023. The cooperative agreements support projects that develop and test strategies for planning and implementing municipal compost and food waste reduction plans. They are part of USDA’s broader efforts to support urban agriculture.  Read more

The Foam Recycling Coalition has opened the 2023 application period, now through April 25, 2023, for public and private entities seeking to start or improve foam polystyrene recovery in their recycling programs. Eligible entities must engage in operating a material recovery facility, manage residential curbside recycling programs, or manage a drop-off or convenience site recycling program. Previous grant awardees have used FRC funding to purchase equipment, including collection bins and foam densifiers, that aid in the efficient collection and on-site material preparation prior to shipping. No cash match is required. However, additional costs by the grantee may be incurred for related items, such as site preparation, electrical infrastructure, freight, etc. Visit to learn more about foam recycling, read about previous recipients or apply for a grant.
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.
Congratulations to NEW IRA Board Members

The IRA recently held elections and added:
  • Heather Burgess, GDB International (paint recycling)
  • KJ Loerop, LRS (curbside, composting, C&D)
  • Lisa Kneller, Kuusakoski (electronic recycling)
to their Board to serve two-year terms and keep tabs on the various legislative items that touch reuse, recycling and composting in Illinois.

The IRF recently replaced two outstanding board members that resigned due to time constraints. We welcome Aaron Harmon stepping up into the Treasurer position and adding Ron Tazlaar of Taz Recycling and Justin Woycke of Chicago Textile Recycling. If you are interested in serving on either Board, please let our Executive Director know at
Chemical Recycling or Advanced Recycling is NOT recycling

The US EPA has already stated the Chemical Recycling or Advanced Recycling of Plastics is not recycling when this technology is used to turn plastic items into fuel. The debate that continues is centered on how we view turning plastics into plastic products again? Many environmental groups have already made it clear that they do not recognize pyrolysis or thermal heating systems that take items to their molecular level to be considered recycling. It is worth noting that this technology requires a significant amount of energy. At the same time, we know this isn't incineration, which we all agree, even when used for energy recovery is not recycling. The National Recycling Coalition is considering a policy addressing their perspective and discussions are underway by other national groups on how to view the plastics industry's proposed solution to the overwhelming amount of plastic in our waste stream, littering our land and in our waterways. While we should welcome these advancements, let's simply recognize them as advancements in waste handling, and stop calling them some new form of recycling.

(This opinion article is not a reflection of the IRF Board or the organization's members.)
IRF Annual Membership Drive Last Chance to Renew
We appreciate all the members that renewed for 2023 and while we realize that email reminders may be overlooked, we must now clear the listing on the website and halt the distribution of our newsletter to those that have year to join or renew. We sincerely hope that you will reach out to join as it is only through membership dues we can offer our programs and support.

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-Team Recyclers
City of Carbondale
City of Chicago
City of Geneva
City of Lockport
City of Urbana
City of Springfield
Champaign County Environmental Stewards
Textile Recycling & Wipeco, Inc
Com2 Recycling Solutions
Cook County Dept of Env. & Sustainability
Paul Cross
Crusher, Inc
DART Container
Davis Index, Inc
Barbara Day
DeKalb County Health Department
Diversitifed Recycling 
DuPage County EDP
Dynamic Lifecycle Innovations
Ecology Action Center
Electronic Manufacturing Recycling Management EERO - Electronics Recycling Representative Org
Elgin Recycling
E-Scrap Technologies, Inc
E-Tech Trading
evTerra Recycling
Falcon Green Resources
Flood Brothers Disposal Company
Foam Cycle
Food Packaging Institute
Fortune Metal (Midwest), LLC
g2 Revolution, LLC
Green Zone Recycling
Helping Hands Recycling
Illinois Eastern Community College
Illinois State University
ISTC University of Illinois
Bert Jacobson Joliet Junior College
K & S Tire Recycling
Kane County Div. of Env. Resources
Kuusakoski Recycling
Land and Lakes Company
Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries
Lewis University
Macon County Environmental Management Dept Madison County Planning & Dev
Gloria McDonald
McHenry County Department of Health
Midland Davis Corporation
Midwest Fiber
NGA Recycling
Mike Nowak
Village of Oak Park
Ogle County Solid Waste Management
PCs for People
POS Remarketing Group
Quincy Recycle
Recycling Connections
Republic Services
Resource Management Companies
Shedd Aquarium
Steven Simpson-Black
Staver Accident Injury Lawyers PC
Strategic Materials
Sarah Tesch
UCP Sequin of Greater Chicago
Unv of Illinois at Chicago - Sustainability
USMe DBA BLH Computers
West Liberty Foods
Will County - Land Use - RR&E
A Note from the IRF President, Marta Keane

With the 53rd anniversary of Earth Day approaching everyone I speak with is super busy working on special collection events, educational outreach, addressing contamination and promoting every day operations! Spring is always an exciting time, with nature's awakening from its winter nap. IRF is certainly tuned in as we finish our membership drive and begin our Conference Sponsorship, Exhibitor and Member registration! We just held a successful webinar on the Packaging EPR bill and the Container Deposit Refund bill. Many thinks to webinar sponsor, the Can Manufacturers. Next up is a webinar on some interesting energy products, including one that keeps all those collecting on edge - batteries! If you have a topic you wish us to explore or wish to offer a presentation at the conference, please let us know. We appreciate all you do for the environment and are here to help and support your efforts! Thank you for your membership.
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

Join the SWANA Illinois Chapter on April 13 in Glen Ellyn to hear from solutions providers about common issues challenging our industry and the products that can help address them. This event is open to members and non-members. Register today!
Recognize a deserving Recycling Industry Person or Organization. If you know someone who deserves special recognition for their work in the recycling industry, download a Nomination Form and email completed form Winner(s) will be honored on June 13 at the Awards Luncheon as part of the 2023 Annual Conference.
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. 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.

A list of committees is shown below. For more information, please view committee descriptions. To join a committee please contact Sue Steilen.
C & D
Regional Outreach
Social Justice/Diversity
Textile Reuse
Traditional MRF
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

The federal government is eyeing plastics recycling to tackle energy, environmental and manufacturing goals and the Department of Energy recently released an updated Strategy for Plastics Innovation report. Click to read more.

Arizona-based eGreen IT Solutions was stripped of its e-Stewards certification after GPS trackers showed overseas printer shipments. The company says it did not “knowingly” break rules. 

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Institute for Cooperative Upcycling of Plastics (iCOUP) have developed a new method for recycling HDPE. Using a novel catalytic approach, iCOUP scientists from DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory and Cornell University transformed waste HDPE plastic into a new material that can be recycled repeatedly without loss of quality. Read more

Clariter, a global cleantech company based in Luxembourg, and TotalEnergies Fluids, a division of Paris-based TotalEnergies, have premiered what they’re calling the first sustainable ultra-pure solvent made from plastic scrap. Read more.
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

Job Postings
Join Will County's Resource Recovery and Energy Division by applying by April 3, 2023 for our Renewable Natural Gas Facility Project Manager position. This newly created position is is responsible for overall management of the County’s RNG facility and associated pipeline. The project manager is responsible for operations oversight including but not limited to reliable and efficient landfill gas production, regulatory compliance, maintenance, safety, security, budget management, revenue and expense monitoring, and contract management.
The Ecology Action Center in Normal, Illinois has several job openings including one for an Educator and another for an Assistant Director. Take this opportunity to learn more about their variety of programs. The EAC is unique in its role as a contractor to McLean County in the production of their Solid Waste Plan and in providing many of the programs to the community.
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
"Spring is the time of plans and projects."
~ Leo Tolstoy


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