Susan Collins to Lead Container Recycling Institute

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New Executive Director Brings Deep Experience in Recycling Systems

This is an exciting time for the Container Recycling Institute, as we work toward finding new solutions to increase and improve beverage container recycling

Signaling its commitment to increase container recycling, the Container Recycling Institute (CRI) has appointed Susan V. Collins as its new executive director. Collins joins CRI (http://www.container-recycling.org) after 20 years of advising municipalities on municipal solid waste and recycling programs and sustainability issues. She was a manager and director at firms such as SCS Engineers, R3 Consulting Group, and HF&H Consultants.

"This is an exciting time for the Container Recycling Institute, as we work toward finding new solutions to increase and improve beverage container recycling" said Tex Corley, chair of CRI's board, and president and CEO of Houston-based Strategic Materials, Inc. "Susan's leadership and background will drive container recycling solutions that will build both a more sustainable environment and a more sustainable economy. There's never been a greater need for recycling -- now is the time to act."

In the last year, beverage manufacturers and container suppliers alike have committed to using higher levels of recycled content in their packaging. In most cases, the recycling goals of these groups cannot be met because either the quantity or quality is not available. CRI seeks to help them by improving the systems that recover materials, and will hold companies to their recycled-content goals. CRI routinely produces research reports on various aspects of beverage container recycling, from policy and program design to optimizing collection efficiency.

"Everyone knows that recycling saves energy, keeps litter off the streets, secures a dependable supply of local materials, creates green jobs in our communities and contributes to the avoidance of the production of greenhouse gases," said Darryl Young, former director of the California Department of Conservation and CRI board member. "Recycling is powerful because it is a multi-billion dollar industry and a grassroots movement."

The nation's recycling system faces some serious challenges. Currently, two out of every three beverage containers are trashed or littered, instead of recycled, and the total number of containers that aren't being recycled - roughly 140 billion a year -- is higher today than ever before. Moreover, some processors complain that the increased use of convenient "single-stream" recycling has reduced the quality and usability of the recovered materials.

This poor performance nationally stands in marked contrast to the record in the 11 states that have container deposits. Under these systems, scrap quality is extremely high, and recovery rates average nearly 80 percent. "Expanding the benefits for all of the stakeholders (including producers, retailers, consumers and municipalities) in beverage container recycling programs is crucial to unleashing the potential of an effective recycling system," said Collins.

Maine, California, New York, Oregon and Connecticut have all expanded their container deposits to other beverages. In Delaware this week, rather than sign a bill that would have repealed the state's admittedly weak deposit law, Governor Jack Markell instead pledged to "mend, not end" the system. In a press release announcing his intention to veto the repeal bill, Markell promised that a new system would be based on best practices around the country and the world.

One of Susan Collins' first acts as executive director was offering CRI's expertise to Governor Markell as Delaware begins the process of revamping its recycling program. CRI is considered an authoritative clearinghouse for container recycling information.

"CRI's potent national network of recycling professionals is a primary reason I joined CRI. I'm excited to conduct new research and re-frame thinking on container recycling systems," said Collins. "I'm passionate about recycling's role in achieving sustainability, and I'm excited to conduct new research and re-frame thinking on container recycling systems. Recycling is a significant portion of any climate change solution framework. Additionally, recycling conserves energy, creates jobs, and ensures the materials for our future, and that's why I've spent most of my career working with the grassroots network, communities, government and industry to dramatically improve recycling outcomes."

As the Southern California Practice Director of R3 Consulting Group, Collins led an extensive international research project comparing the financial, operational and policy aspects of container deposit and packaging systems in California, Germany and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and British Columbia.

Ms. Collins also served nine years on the board of directors of the California Resource Recovery Association and has promoted advanced knowledge of product stewardship through the California Product Stewardship Council. "Between her MBA, her experience with nonprofits, her advanced research skills and her background as a manufacturing engineer, Susan is uniquely qualified for her new role with CRI," said Marge Davis, CRI treasurer and coordinator of Tennessee's strengthening bid to become the 12th state with a container deposit law. "She will be a great fit for this respected organization."

Founded in 1991, CRI (http://www.container-recycling.org) studies and promotes policies and programs that increase container recycling while shifting the associated costs from government and taxpayers to producers and consumers. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization plays a vital national role in assessing the economic, social and environmental impacts of container manufacturing, collection and disposal, and ensures that this information is shared with policymakers, regulators and the general public.

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