Home > STAR > Year in Review: 2017

As we dive in 2018, we’d like to take a brief look back at our accomplishments, changes, and milestones of 2017– to show where we’ve been and how we’ve worked toward our mission of increasing recycling rates in Texas. Last year was a busy and exciting year for STAR. With the completion of the Study on the Economic Impacts of Recycling, a successful Summit, tons of educational webinars and tours, networking, events, and more!

  1. “Study on the Economic Impacts of Recycling” Published
  2. Successful 2017 Texas Recycling Summit
  3. Master Composters Give Back to the Community
  4. Professional Development Through Our Educational Webinars
  5. Bin Grants Provided for Developing Recycling Programs
  6. Educating Texas Decision-Makers Through Legislative “Walk the Halls” Day
  7. Mission Sponsors and Student Memberships
  8. Council Highlights– Reuse Council, Texas Product Stewardship Council, Texas Compost Council, Central Texas, North Texas, San Antonio
  9. Where We’ve Been– Snapshots from 2017
  10. Staff Transitions, Welcome our New Board Members and Executive Director!
  11. Thank You!

In 2016, STAR partnered with Burns & McDonnell and TCEQ to conduct a study on the current economic impacts of the Texas recycling industry processing and manufacturing materials from municipal solid waste (MSW) streams. The Study on the Economic Impacts of Recycling was the result of a bill introduced by Rep. Ed Thompson (R-Pearland) and Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) passed in the 84th Texas Legislative Session (House Bill 2763), which requires the development of the Study. 

The Study builds on the efforts of prior recycling studies, such as the Texas Recycling Data Initiative (TRDI), which STAR released in February of 2015 and provided the first real look in more than 20 years at the levels of recycling occurring in Texas. The survey went live August 15, 2016 and closed on October 31, 2016, focusing on data from processors and end users of recyclables. The Study seeks to not only assess current recycling efforts, but also identify methods to increase recycling, as well as funding methods to increase recycling and associated job creation and infrastructure needs that will result from a more robust materials recovery industry in Texas.

What are the key takeaways?

The study found 9.2 million tons of MSW were recycled in Texas in 2015, and this material was valued at $702 million. Further, the statewide recycling rate was pegged at 22.7 percent, which is almost 4 percentage points higher than was determined by another analysis that took place two years prior. Finally, the overall economic impact of the recycling industry in Texas was shown to exceed $3.3 billion in 2015 and supported more than 17,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs

The results of the Study will be included in the TCEQ report, “Municipal Solid Waste in Texas: A Year in Review, 2016 Data Summary and Analysis,” and can be found through the STAR website. Thank you to all the STAR members who participated in this Study, the stakeholders involved, the recycling industry committee (RIC), and all of those who were in involved in making this study possible! 

Texas Recycling Summit

The STAR staff and Board of Directors would like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who helped make Summit possible this year. We were thrilled to be in Austin last year, showcasing awesome and engaging educational sessions, a packed exhibit hall, tons of networking, great food, and much more. We could not have put on the event without the support from our sponsors, vendors–and everyone else who attended!

Throughout Summit, we had around 230 people in and out of conference sessions and events. The Texas Recycling Summit is our biggest fundraiser, and it is important that the Summit provides value back to STAR members and supporters. We heard nothing but awesome things about the conference sessions and panels and we are so excited to get started on this year’s Summit so that we can continue to bring you the top-notch education and networking that you rely on as a busy recycling professional. We hope you will join us in Galveston from October 28-31 for the 2018 Texas Recycling Summit! (See more photos from this year’s Summit on our Facebook page).

Texas Environmental Leadership Awards

This year’s award ceremony was presented at the Texas Recycling Summit, where eight organizations, communities, and individuals were honored for their outstanding commitments to recycling and sustainability. View a list of all the winners and honorable mentioned on our website.

Master Composters Give Back to Communities

In 2017, we hosted a Community Coordinator Training and Orientation at the Keep Texas Beautiful conference in June. This gave us the opportunity to provide tools and education to those who are interested in becoming a Community Coordinator and hosting Master Composter programs in their communities. This past year, we awarded certificates to Master Composters in Houston, Grand Prairie, Dallas, Coppell, Plano, and Glen Rose. Congrats to all these new Master Composters!

Professional Development Through Educational Webinars

One of the many ways STAR is educating industry professionals on the recycling happenings in Texas is through our educational webinar series, where we invite other industry professionals to speak, present, and answer questions on their experiences in the field. We’ve found our webinars increasing in popularity and know that our STAR members love the opportunity to participate in professional development opportunities from the comfort of their own desks (or from home). In 2017, we nearly doubled the number of webinars we hosted previously, and had a variety of topics including:

  • Educating, Promoting, and Inspiring Residents to Apply the 3 R’s
  • Zero Waste Events
  • Managing Hard-to-Recycle Items Through Innovative Partnerships
  • Innovative Reuse Business Models
  • Results of the Study on the Economic Impacts of Recycling
  • Landfill Capacity and Implications
  • Three-State Local Policy

We had a total of over 250 people tuning in to our seven webinars in 2017, and look forward to increasing that number and providing even more value to our STAR network and industry professionals in Texas and beyond. Look back on your favorites, watch the ones you missed, and check out all of our previous and upcoming our webinars here!

Bin Grants

Bin grants are one of the ways we are helping to enhance recycling infrastructure by seeking out and providing unused bins to rural schools and communities who are struggling with funding for creating or maintaining a recycling program. These bins help to encourage recycling and reuse and we are proud to be a part of the solution! If you are looking to donate unused bins, or receive bins, please contact the STAR office!

Legislative “Walk the Halls” Day

STAR members and staff took to the Texas State Capitol on February 21st for its second recycling legislative day. Our group was able to visit more than 30 offices to educate our decision makers about the thriving recycling industry in Texas. We handed out packets of information with statistics about job creation and businesses in Texas that rely on recycled material, and we were there to answer any questions about recycling. Participants also had the opportunity to share their story with their decision makers about how recycling positively impacts their business or community. Thank you to everyone who participated in this important and successful event as part of the 85th Texas Legislative Session!

Great Year for Mission Sponsors & Introduction of Student Memberships

This was another great year for Mission Sponsors, with a total of 19 sponsors, 5 of which were first time sponsors of STAR, while 14 continued their support by renewing their sponsorships. The STAR staff and Board of Directors are thrilled that these companies choose to support the STAR mission of increasing recycling rates in Texas, and we are very appreciative of the financial support that allows STAR to continue working on valuable programs and events in Texas. See a list of current Gold Mission Sponsors at the bottom of this email, and click here for a full list of 2017 Mission Sponsors.

Student Memberships

 In 2017, STAR introduced a student membership rate that provides the opportunity for soon-to-be young professionals to get involved in our organization and begin networking with other industry professionals to help gain experience and relationships to begin a successful career in the environmental industry– all at a reasonable cost to them.

If you know any students who may be interested in joining STAR, please have them contact the STAR office at info@recyclingstar.org. We look forward to helping young professionals get involved and providing professional and educational development opportunities!

Council Highlights

Reuse Council

The newly formed Reuse Council hosted their first meeting in May to determine their mission to promote diversion through reuse and education, and discuss what their plans are for the year. They hosted a successful first webinar on Innovative Reuse Business Models in August, and hosted a tour of Austin Creative Reuse– a local business that fosters conservation and reuse through creativity, education, and community building, followed by a networking happy hour as part of the Texas Recycling Summit in October. Thanks to all who have participated!

Texas Product Stewardship Council

The Texas Product Stewardship Council hosted two face-to-face meetings this year, the first in February had speakers Dr. Paul Martens and Joanie Arrott come talk about product stewardship. Mr. Martens spoke about ethical purchasing in our global economy and Arrott spoke about intersecting opportunities with HHW and product stewardship. Their second in-person meeting in August was held in Waco. They discussed the next steps with their “Refuel Your Fun” campaign, and heard a special presentation from Smarter Sorting about how their business can help HHW vendors with enabling product reuse instead of landfilling. They also worked on a member survey to gather thoughts about future outreach and programs. Thanks to everyone involved in this group and those who have come out to share their expertise with us!

Texas Compost Council

STAR and the Texas Compost Council hosted the Compost Summit and Training on Oct. 2-4 in Denton. This annual workshop for industrial composters provided plenty of great educational and networking events, equipment demos, and sessions! Thank you to everyone who sponsored, exhibited, attended, and spoke at the Compost Summit to help make it another successful year!

Central Texas

STAR Central had another successful S.P.A.R.K. Forum with 65 professionals joining in for a day of information sharing and partnership building to help support the growth and expansion of recycling opportunities around the Central Texas area.  This year’s forum focused on “Circular Economy” to reach our goals in sustainable programing. Our Keynote speaker was Stephen Roberts, Sustainability Marketing Manager at Dell, who gave an in-depth presentation on the company’s commitment to circular economy.

The Central Texas group also toured the south Austin Habitat for Humanity ReStore facility in June, participated in the annual Lake Travis clean up, and hosted an educational tour of the Circuit of the America’s to learn about their sustainability efforts and best practices for large scale event recycling during the Texas Recycling Summit in October. Thanks to all who participated, presented, and planned these events!

North Texas

STAR North Texas started off the year by partnering with the North Texas Corporate Recycling Association (NTCRA) to host an informative tour of the new FCC Environmental Services MRF at the McCommas Bluff Landfill in Dallas. The new facility boasts state-of-the-art technology to process and return to the market all recyclable materials from the cities of Dallas, Garland, Mesquite, and University Park.

They also held a legislative luncheon in June to learn about the latest legislative updates pertaining to the recycling industry. Topics included bills filed and passed, implications for the recycling industry and initiatives for future legislative sessions. The North Texas group also hosted the 21st Annual Recycler’s Golf Tournament at Terra Verde Golf Club in Arlington in October, held their annual North Texas Recycling Leadership Awards, and celebrated the end of the year with their annual holiday party and membership meeting at La Hacienda Ranch in December. Thanks to all for participating and supporting these events!

San Antonio

The San Antonio chapter held their first meeting in March, where they toured and learned about the H-E-B Reverse Logistics facility. They hosted another membership meeting at ReCommunity where they also got to tour their facility in April, met in June and heard presentations on the new “Reworks San Antonio” program being launched to measure, assist, and recognize businesses for their recycling efforts, and did a Q&A session with Maggie Hernandez of H-E-B about their recycling and reuse as a follow-up of their tour earlier that month. The San Antonio group also toured the SAWS H2Oaks facility, the Republic’s Tessman Landfill, and held a holiday potluck and membership meeting in December. Thank you to all those who came out to attend these events and tours, and those who sponsored and graciously offered their facilities and space for us!

Where We’ve Been in 2017– A Year in Snapshots

Staff Transitions

This past year saw some changes in leadership at STAR. Our part-time Membership & Communications Coordinator, Erin Andary, was brought on full-time as our new Communications & Programs Manager, and we welcomed three new Board members– Tim Warren, Call2Recycle; Ron Wattinger, JOSCO Products; and Robert Trevino Jr., City of McAllen.

As we welcome them to STAR, we are also would like to give a big thank you to our Board members who have rolled off this year– Rich Abramowitz, Duracell; Cheryl Mergo, Houston-Galveston Area COG; and Darrell Clemons, FCC Environmental Services. Thank you so much for your time and efforts in helping STAR achieve our mission, and your significant contributions to the Board. Each of you will be greatly missed, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors!

Welcoming a new Executive Director

We are also extremely grateful to our former STAR Executive Director, Sara Nichols, for her fierce leadership, expertise, and accomplishments she has brought to STAR for the past six years. Sara’s accomplishments as Executive Director have helped develop STAR’s strong programs, bring STAR national recognition, leave us in great financial shape, host successful events, and more. We are very excited to see her succeed in her new role and wish her all the best! Read the letter from Board chair Ashley Faseler announcing Sara’s departure.

It is with pleasure that we welcome our new Executive Director, Jordan Fengel, to the STAR family! We are confident that his skills and creative ideas will help take STAR to the next level. His passion for STAR’s mission will also successfully engage members, councils, sponsors, and assist in growing collaborative opportunities for advancing recycling in Texas. Read more about Jordan here, and please join us in welcoming him!

Looking Ahead at 2018

The new year already has so much promise and opportunity for more projects, learning, networking, and of course, recycling! This year we will continue to provide valuable professional development through our strong bin grants, Master Composter and educational webinar programs, continue to represent the Texas recycling industry at events both regionally and nationally, and work to bring you the best speakers, resources, and networking at the 2018 Texas Recycling Summit in Galveston this October.

On behalf of the STAR staff and Board of Directors, we want to thank our amazing members, partners, volunteers, mission sponsors, supporters, and those who personally donated to the STAR mission, for helping us have such a successful 2017. We could not do it without your support.