November 2022

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Compost Corner: Are you interested in joining the NE Composting Council?

The NE Chapter of the US Composting Council (NECC) is fiscally sponsored by Nebraska Recycling Council. NECC gathered after the NRC Fall Conference on September 15th. NRC is excited to reconvene the chapter and implement the new rules and ideas that USCC recently shared. 


NECC will meet again on November 10th at 11am! If you are interested in attending please reach out to Haley at director@nrcne.org. You may attend in-person or virtually. 


Volunteer Opportunity

in Lincoln on November 14!


The Lincoln Bike Kitchen is collecting good used bikes to refurbish and distribute to low-income families for the 2022 Holiday Season. They need some volunteer help on the collection day between 5 and 7:30 pm. The bikes will be distributed to K-12 schools, community centers and refugee centers.


To sign up for volunteering, please contact Allison Majerus at amajerus@nrcne.org.


To volunteer: you'll need to wear weather-appropriate work clothes and gloves and go to the bike shop at 1635 South 1st Street in Lincoln to help accept, sort and disassemble donations. Volunteer time will be from 5-7:30 pm or as long as you can be there.

Passing of Reynolds Davis


The Nebraska Recycling Council Board of Directors and staff would like to extend sincere condolences to the family of Reynolds Davis, who recently passed away.

Reynolds was a long-term and dedicated board member of NRC and WasteCap prior. Many of our members and stakeholders would have known him.


Recent Professional Development for NRC staff

Recently NRC Staff has been active with professional development at area conferences!


Haley Nolde and Abbey Graham attended the Keep Nebraska Beautiful conference in Nebraska City, NE and the Coalition for a Stronger Nebraska/Nonprofit Association of the Midlands Advocacy Workshop in Lincoln, NE and Allison Majerus attended the Iowa Recycling & Solid Waste Management Conference in Bettendorf, IA.

Highlights:


"Jennifer Lawson, the President and CEO of Keep America Beautiful emphasized the importance of collaboration with businesses and government alongside the investment in education. I love that the Nebraska Recycling Council strives to build this collaboration between a variety of organizations."

-Abbey Graham


"I love hearing about all the great projects and initiatives in the state. Keep Nebraska Beautiful serves as a great resource in addition to NRC."-Haley Nolde


"I loved meeting people in the industry from our neighbor state of Iowa and learning from each other, comparing notes and networking, and touring the Scott Area Recycling Center in Davenport, Iowa" -Allison Majerus


"Bethany Snyder partnered with Nonprofit Association of the Midlands and Coalition for a Strong Nebraska to provide advocacy training for non-profits. I loved her quote "Our success inside the capitol is dependent on our power outside of the capitol." This was a great reminder that we have influence in our everyday decisions-where we spend money, how we vote, and who we partner with. When she discussed storytelling as a powerful advocacy tool she taught us that facts are not enough to win-there is power in telling your story and personal experience." -Abbey Graham


What we learned: 


"The keynote speaker Trevor Ragan spoke about how we can have a fixed or growth mindset when it comes to learning. He challenged us to think about our belief of capacity to learn, improve and change. It encouraged me to reflect and be open to learning something new, recognizing both my belief of whether I can learn and the discomfort that comes when learning or gaining new skills." -Allison Majerus


"Keep America Beautiful has a new leader who seems eager to keep pushing KAB forward. A few times the quote "It's not my trash, but it is my community." was shared and it serves as a good reminder!" -Haley Nolde


"Jack Hilgert led an excellent session where he focused on education being a pathway to future careers. He emphasized the importance of teaching how to think but not what to think. Facilitating critical thinking skills is vital to instilling confidence and commitment to take responsible action." -Abbey Graham

Success Story: LPS Sustainability

We would like to share success stories with our members and followers, and NRC is pleased to highlight our member Lincoln Public Schools Sustainability Department.

Tell us about your organization. 

Lincoln Public Schools serves over 42,000 students, more than 8,000 employees, and manages 70 facilities with over 8,000,000 square feet of space. The LPS Sustainability journey started in the early 1990s with the initiation of a recycling program at a handful of buildings. Those efforts grew to be a district wide recycling program by 2002. In 2014 interests expanded beyond recycling to include composting and other sustainability topics. By 2019 LPS had adopted a compost program in all school cafeterias as well as passed a sustainability policy that stated a commitment to a district wide culture of sustainability. Now, the LPS Sustainability department supports a variety of interests including waste diversion, alternative transportation, energy efficiency, outdoor learning, and more.


What are your sustainability goals and initiatives? 

LPS Sustainability aims to promote green efforts throughout the district and the community by implementing environmentally responsible practices in LPS facilities and providing educational opportunities for future environmental stewards. When the recycling program began nearly 30 years ago, a 25% waste diversion rate goal was set. Currently, with district wide composting and recycling, LPS strives for a 50% diversion rate or higher. Additionally, any construction projects managed by the district are required to have an 80% diversion rate goal. Initiatives that support LPS waste diversion goals include container resets and school-wide composting. Container resets involve removing oversized, excess containers from throughout a building and resetting each space to have one landfill and one recycling bin side-by-side and near the door. Not only does this process help custodial teams save time when managing waste, it also allows our team to reevaluate the waste needs of a building and label all bins to help educate on the LPS recycling categories. School-wide composting also requires resetting and redesigning waste stations within a school. Buildings that participate in the school-wide compost initiative have designated compost bins in addition to the landfill and recycling bin in their classroom. As more buildings adopt the school-wide composting program, LPS makes progress towards the long term vision of becoming a zero waste district.


What are some of the challenges and barriers that you have faced? 

As a school district there is continual turnover of students, families, and staff. This provides a unique challenge as constant training and education is needed for long standing programs. With continued maintenance and training, our small team is sometimes limited in the capacity to engage students to the fullest and pursue other areas of sustainability. There is also interest in exploring more waste diversion opportunities however this can be limited by local infrastructure and processing facilities. Additionally, hauling costs and procurement of additional waste diversion tools can also pose a barrier for the program.


What are some of your success stories? 

Lincoln Public Schools is proud to have a district wide composting and recycling program which resulted in 52% of the district's waste being diverted from the landfill in 2021. Efforts continue to further divert waste from the landfill via school-wide composting. This initiative allows for compost collection in classrooms, restrooms, and offices as well as the cafeteria. Multiple schools have volunteered to adopt this initiative and all new schools open with this structure, the first ever LPS high school opened with school-wide composting in fall 2022. Aside from traditional waste programs, construction waste management efforts have also successfully diverted 82% of construction waste generated from LPS construction projects in 2021. Additionally, student/staff engagement through curriculum connections, clubs, or personal interests have helped our schools take ownership of the waste programs. In kindergarten students are already learning about the recycling and composting programs at LPS in their Garbology science unit. At East high school, students in the Eco Club advocated for the use of metal cutlery in their cafeteria instead of the single-use plastic utensils that were being distributed. These efforts inspired a change at the other five high schools, and with the funding from a Food Waste Warrior grant, all LPS high schools now have reusable metal cutlery. The Cans4Books Recycling Drive is another successful waste diversion event that encourages the community to recycle their metal cans and donate proceeds to their school library. The continued growth of waste programs allowed the LPS Sustainability Department to apply for grant funding for a full time Assistant Sustainability Coordinator dedicated to waste programs and diversion efforts.



What are some lessons learned that you think others could benefit from?

Successful programs always start with good relationships. Creating programs that are mutually beneficial for various stakeholders help ensure that multiple groups are motivated to see success. Further, adapting plans to accommodate the needs of different buildings or situations and having strategies for sorting, collection, education, etc. need to be set to keep everyone accountable. For example, during a container reset initiative, all waste containers within a building are reset to have only one landfill bin and one recycling bin, labeled, side by side, and near the door. Not only does this reset make it easier for students and staff to know what goes in each container, it also benefits the custodial team by saving them time and money since they no longer have to search for, empty, and line multiple containers in a classroom. The success of the program can be tracked in the monthly waste reports detailing weights of each recycling, composting,and refuse category.


How has your membership with the NRC played a role in your sustainability goals/initiatives?   

In the past, WasteCap NE was a critical partner for the development of construction waste management guidelines and resources in the 2014 bond. This contracted effort helped LPS achieve over 75% diversion on the Irving Middle School IAQ renovation project which laid the foundation for our construction waste management efforts going forward. Previously, LPS had also received an NET equipment grant to improve recycling efforts at athletic facilities. We continue to gain valuable resources from NRC for local sources or contacts for recycling and salvaging materials.


Webinars & Events

National Recycling Congress (virtual)

November 9-10, 2022

Register here!



WEBINAR: Circular Economy and the Future of Recycling in the US

Center for Biological Diversity

November 10, 2022 at 11;30 pm CST

Register here!



Lincoln Bike Kitchen Holiday Recycle-A-Cycle

Kick Off November 14, 2022

For more information

Email amajerus@nrcne.org to volunteer on November 14


Garden Gathering: Harvesting Connections

Lincoln Public Schools Sustainability

Tuesday, November 15, 2022 6-8 pm

For more information


Central NE Regenerative Ag Conference

Friday, November 17

Holdrege, Nebraska

For more information, call 308-995-8133 or email holdregeinfo@cccneb.edu 


National Zero Waste Conference (virtual)

November 30-December 1, 2022

Register here!

Articles of Interest

Lincoln Bike Kitchen sets ambitious holiday goal, but needs your bikes


Clean Community Systems collects 7.5 tons of recyclables at Husker Harvest Days



Congress members call for standardized labeling of recycling bins


New recycling program rolls out across campus


USDA Seeks Applications to Improve Solid Waste Management for People in Rural areas

FREE OFFICE SUPPLIES

NRC has approximately 26 2-inch and 3-inch binders, 1 4-inch binder, 100 hanging file folders with tabs, 100 file folders, and 8 folders. They are located at our office in Lincoln. We'd ask you to pick them up.


If interested in some/all of these items, please contact Abbey at admin@nrcne.org. In your message please indicate that you heard about this from our November newsletter. Thank you!




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