At the Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) Fall 2020 Conference, a plenary session on racial justice in the recycling industry was featured. This session marked a milestone in NERC’s 33-year history – it was the first time racial issues were discussed at one of our events. While some attendees expressed difficulty with understanding the connection between racial justice and recycling, the majority were extremely appreciative and supportive that NERC had taken the plunge and opened the door on such a complex and challenging topic.
The enthusiasm built by this initial discussion encouraged NERC staff to continue the momentum and plan for doing more about diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) issues. In addition to staff undertaking individual initiatives to better understand and learn more about DE&I, we also started working on ways that we could work with our constituents. Soon after the conference, we hosted a roundtable discussion with NERC’s Board of Directors and Advisory Members (businesses, counties and municipalities, trade associations, nonprofits and consultants). The roundtable provided an opportunity for everyone to share information and learn about the strategies being planned and implemented by others working in recycling and solid waste.
NERC’s Board also made the decision to have at least one …….