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Murphy Names Restart and Recovery Advisory Council

  Governor Phil Murphy today announced the formation of a statewide council of leaders to advise on New Jersey’s restart and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.   The Governor’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council will work in conjunction with the commission named last week and will bring together leaders from various industry, community, and faith-based groups and institutions across New Jersey to advise state leadership on economic issues impacted by the pandemic.   “As we begin the difficult task of restarting New Jersey’s economy and recovering from the damaging effects of COVID-19, this advisory council brings together leaders from all walks of New Jersey life,” said Governor Murphy. “This group will not only help us gather the local intelligence we need to get our economy running again, but also will help us create the framework for coping with our new long-term economic realities.”   In addition to focusing on issues surrounding the short-term restarting of New Jersey’s economy, this council also will begin the task of positioning the economy and creating a framework for the long-term recovery.   The council will be co-chaired by New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education, Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis, New Jersey Economic Development Authority CEO Tim Sullivan, and Choose New Jersey President and CEO Jose Lozano. The council will have nine subcommittees, each of which will be chaired by a council co-chair.   “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every facet of life and every sector of our economy in some way. As we plan for how we can ensure New Jersey remains a place where opportunity meets innovation, I am honored to join many of our state’s most talented thought leaders, as well as my state colleagues, to ensure we are not overlooking any aspect of a successful recovery,” said Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis, Secretary of Higher Education. “The work of this council will complement a group of higher education leaders who will consider the role of higher education in the state’s restart and recovery efforts.”   “COVID-19 is first and foremost a public health crisis, but it’s also an economic crisis on a scale that outpaces anything in recent memory. Restarting and then driving a recovery of our economy will require comprehensive input from a wide spectrum of economic and community stakeholders, and Governor Murphy has assembled an extraordinary group of New Jerseyans to help guide these efforts via this council,” EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said.   “I’m honored to join Zakiya, Jose and the Governor’s Office to help lead this effort to build a stronger, fairer and more resilient economic future for New Jersey.”   “I look forward to working with New Jersey Higher Education Secretary Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis and NJ Economic Development Authority CEO Tim Sullivan to co-chair the Governor’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council, as well as various industry leaders and community members to rebuild our economy in the wake of the worst pandemic of our lifetime,” said Jose Lozano, CEO of Choose New Jersey. “It is critical that we engage our state’s business community and help them every step of the way on the road to recovery. As a blueprint for restarting New Jersey’s economy is developed, we’ll look to the council to advise on  short and long-term considerations and opportunities. I  look forward to working with committee members to ensure New Jersey rebuilds stronger than ever from this crisis.”   The advisory council subcommittees will begin virtual meetings next week. The nine subcommittees are Facilities and Construction; Government; Health Care; Main Street; Manufacturing and Supply Chain; Professional Services; Social Services and Faith; Tourism and Entertainment; and Transportation and Infrastructure.   While the commission named by Governor Murphy last week will focus on national, state and macroeconomic issues surrounding the restarting, the advisory council will take a microeconomic view of the recovery, determining the individual challenges that each sector faces. The advisory council is expected to remain empaneled for as long as necessary to advise the Governor on the state’s recovery.   “We understand that we need a smart, granular approach to recovery. How you reopen a restaurant at the shore is different from how you restart a factory in South Jersey,” Governor Murphy noted.  “This council will also be guided by our core principle of building a New Jersey that is stronger and fairer and works for every family.”   Members of the council and their respective committees can be found here or viewed below.   Copy of Executive Order #140   Facilities and Construction:
Marlene Asselta SNJDC
David Barry Ironstate Development
Joe Baumann McManimon, Scotland, & Baumann
Staci Berger Housing and Community Development
Wassem Boraie Boraie Development LLC
David Brogan NJ Apartment Association
Sarah Clarke DEVCO
Bill Colgan Community Healthcare Associates
Jeff Crum Community Asset Preservation Corporation
Morris Davis Rutgers Center for Real Estate
Eileen Della Volle KS Engineers
Mike Demarco Mack Cali Realty Corp
Joe DeMark Sheetmetal Workers
Jeremy Farrell LeFrak Organization
Carl Goldberg Canoe Brook Management LLC
Lori Grifa Archer Greiner
Derrek Griggs Affordable Housing Alliance
Michael Hanrahan American Institute of Architects NJ
Joe Jingoli Joseph Jingoli & Son Inc.
Lisa John-Basta CSG Law
Vinnie Lane Painters
Mike Maloney Pipetrades
Nevins McCann Connell Foley
Mike McGuinness NAIOP
Gil Medina CBRE
Bill Mullen Building Trades Council
Wendy Neu Hugo Neu
Darwin Roman National Association of Latino Professional Realtors
John Saraceno Onyx
Carol Ann Short NJBA
David Simon Simon Property Group
Ron Simoncini Axiom Communications
Bill Sproule Carpenters
Elizabeth Tice K. Hovnanian Homes
Richard Tolson Bricklayers
Jerry Zaro Sills Cummis
Peggy Anastos LUPE
Ras Baraka Urban Mayors
Joe Calabro IBEW
Eugene Caldwell Jail Wardens
Mike Cerra League of Municipalities
Pat Colligan NJ State PBA
Tom DeGise Hudson Executive
Joe DiVincenzo Essex Executive
John Donnadio NJAC
Ed Donnelly NJ FMBA
Bob Fox NJ FOP
Brian Hughes Mercer Executive
Al Kelly Urban Mayors
Janice Kovach Mayor/ NJLM
Colleen Lapp Tax Collector NJ
Dennis Levinson Atlantic Executive
Mike Mastronardy Sheriffs- COA
Steve McConlogue NJ PFA
John McCormac Former Treasurer
Dave Miller County Finance Officers
Janice Mironov NJ Conf Mayors/NJLM
Frank Moran Urban Mayors
Teri O’Connor VP NJA County Admins
Steve Peter Clerks- COA
Hetty Rosenstein CWA
Gerry Seneski Finance Officers
Connor Shaw IUJAT
Susan Shin Angulo Mayor
Amol Sinha ACLU
Jim Tedesco Bergen County Executive
Steve Tully AFSCME
Jaclyn Veasey Mayor
Matt Watkins Municipal Managers
David Baiada Bayada Home Health Care
Mike Beson Guide Strategies
Kevin Conlin Horizon
Joan Dublin NJPA and Metropolitan FQHC in Jersey City
Shereef Elnahal University Hospital
Nancy Fitterer NJ Home Healthcare Hospice Association
Dr. Dovid Friedman CHEMED
Robert Garrett Hackensack Meridian Health
Perry Halkitis Rutgers School of Public Health
Heather Howard Princeton, RWJF
Ev Liebman AARP
Al Maghazehe Capital Health
Ana Montero Formerly Red Cross Leader
Kevin O’Dowd Cooper Hospital
Barry Ostrowsky RWJ Barnabas Health
Dr. Jubril Oyeyemi Cherry Hill Free Clinic – General Practice
Dr. John Regis Doctors Representative
Milly Silva SEIU 1199
Kevin J. Slavin St. Joseph’s Health
Mark Taylor NJ Pharmacist Association
Keeanga Taylor Princeton University
Dr. Mitchell Weiner NJ Dental Association
Debbie White HPAE
  Main Street:
Stephen Blazejewski NJ LGBT Chamber
Linda Bowden PNC Bank-Small Business
Francisco Cortes New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce
Jeanne Cretella NJRHA
Luis Delahoz Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Leon Fraser NJSBDC
Barri Gibson Ruby Red Roots
Bill Granfield SEIU Local 100 – Unite Here (restaurant workers )
John Harmon AACCNJ
Paul Hoffmann Liberty Science Center
Duvi Honig Orthodox Chamber of Commerce
Frank Isoldi Caldwell Banker
Jill Johnson Institution for Entrepreneurial Leadership
Raymond Lamboy Latin American Economic Development Association, Inc.
Richard Lawton NJ Sustainable Business Council
Brandon McKoy NJPP
Vonda McPherson Restaurant Operater Newark
John McWeeney New Jersey Bankers
Carmen Mendiola Restaurant and Small Business Advisory committee in Jersey City
Maria Neives HOLA
Priti Pandya-Patel NJ Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce
Vipul Patel Asian American Retail Association
Ben Pearlman NJRMA
Corinne Power Camden-Restaurant Operater
Christina Renna Southern NJ Chamber
Nadeem “Nick” Saleem ICSJ/ United Wealth Group LLC
John Sarno Employers Association of NJ
Michele Siekerka NJBIA
Dean Smith NJ Main Street Alliance  
  Manufacturing and Supply Chain:
Jeff Altschuler Allied Beverage Group
Tiffany Bohlin FullBlue360
Laurel Brennan AFL-CIO
Patricia Campos Medina, PHD The Worker Institute, ILR Cornell University
Kim Case R&D Council
Gail Ciccione Becton Dickinson
Jessica Culle CATA
Sara Cullinane Make the Road
Linda Doherty NJ Food Council
Lisa Dreilinger RB
Adam Glauberg Johnson & Johnson
Dennis Hart NJ Chemistry Council
Debbie Hart BioNJ
Dr. John Impellizeri Rutgers University
Dr. Jean-Pierre Issa Coriell Institute for Medical Research
John Kennedy NJMEP
Shirley Kline Ag Community
Roxanne Lagano Zoetis Inc
Wendy Lazarus Pfizer
Samuel Nesbit Fedex
Dean Paranicas HINJ
Mark Patterson BASF
Alphonse Rispoli Teamsters
Charles Rosen Ironbound Farms
Nancy Rurkowski Bristol-Myer Squibb
Tony Russo CIANJ
Joe Sheridan Wakefern
Tom Szaky Terracycle
Kim Van Utrecht UPS
Dave Young UFCW
  Professional Services:
Neil Bhaskar Bode
Tom Bracken NJ Chamber
Charlene Brown ATT
Kevin Brown SEIU 32-BJ
Cathleen Callahan Bank of America
Art Cifelli The Venn Group
Kevin Cummings Investors Bank
Marilyn Davis Altice
Alma DeMetropolis JPMorgan Chase
Brenda Ross Dulan Princeton Chamber
Marcus Dyer WithumSmith + Brown
Don Katz Audible
Mitch Livingston New Jersey Manufacturers
Laura Matos Kivvit, Lupe PAC
Carlos Medina Hispanic Chamber
Michelle Meyre Ship KPMG
Pamela Miller Global Strategies
Christine O’Brien Insurance Council of NJ
Evelyn Padin NJSBA
Raj Parikah Genova Burns
Braxton Plummer Verizon
Aaron Price NJTC
Jatinder Singh
Jackie Taylor EY
Gina Tedesco Golden Seeds
Ian Trombley NBC Universal
Kelly Watson KPMG
  Social Services and Faith:
Mohsen Badran ACCSES New Jersey Inc.
Tom Baffuto The ARC of NJ
Jessica Berrocal NJ Sisterhood
Jacob Caplan EasterSeals NJ
Tiffany Cardwell Coalition of Day Care Centers in Jersey City- New Brunswick
Peter Chen Advocates for Children NJ
Joshua Cohen Jewish Federation
Ronsha Dickerson Camden We Choose
Eric Dobson UBA/Fair Share Housing
Rev. Raymond Fawole African Pastors
Christian Fuscarino Garden State Equality
Kiran Gaudioso United Way Northern New Jersey
Susan Haspel Boys & Girls Clubs in New Jersey
Elaine Helms Rain Foundation
Renee Koubiadis Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey
Adele LaTourette Food Bank
Sara Lilja LeamNJ
Wendy Martinez Latino Pastors and Mininsters
Rev Marilyn Mornoe Harris
Salah Mustafa ICPC
Joshua Rodriguez National Latino Evangelical Coalition, New Jersey Coalition of Latino Pastors and Minsters
Carlos Rodriguez Community FoodBank of New Jersey
Rev. Louis Roundtree Newark office of Clergy Affairs
Phyllis Salowe-Kay Citizen Action
Avi Schnall Agudath Israel of America
Rev. Dr. Danny Scotton Alpha Baptist Church
Rev. John Taylor Rev in Trenton
Rev. Lester Taylor General Baptist Convention
Imam Uhmar Salahuddin Pleasantville
Wei Han Zhou Community Options
  Tourism and Entertainment:
Curtis Bashaw Congress Hall
Steve Callender Casino Association of New Jersey
Brian Cheripka iStar Development
Vicki Clark NJ Tourism Industry Association
Dennis Drazin Monmouth Racetrack
Haime Elhai New York Jets
Curtis Farrow Irving Street Rep
Jarrod Grasso NJ Realtors
Peter Guelli New York Giants
Jeff Gural GFP Real Estate
Marilou Halvorsen NJ Restaurant & Hospital Association
Bishop Hargrove Atlantic City Minister Coalition
Amy Herbold Triple Five
Jim Kirkos Meadowlands Chamber
Dan McCarthy Lake Hopatcong Commission
Bob McDevitt Local 54
Will Morey Morey Piers
Kevin O’Brien IATSE
Scott O’Neil Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment
Sheila Reynertson NJPP
Marilyn Schlossbach New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association
Brendan Sciarra Cape May Brewing
Ron Vandeveen Metlife Stadium
Peter Ward Hotel Trades Council
Roberto Yañez Univision
  Transportation and Infrastructure:
Amit Bose HNTB, Coalition for Northeast Corridor
Nat Bottigheimer Regional Plan Association
Dave Smith UTCA
Alixon Collazos Public Affairs Expert
Dennis Dagget ILA – 1094
Jim Fakult Jersey Central Power & Light Company
Reva Foster NJ-BIC
Pam Frank Charge EVC
David Gahl Solar Energy Industry Association
Steve Gardner LiUNA
Dan Gumble IBEW Local 164
Kim Haneman PSE&G
Jerome Johnson SMART
Jill Kaplan United Airlines
Glen Kartalis Council of Engineers
Jack Koscic ACCNJ
Greg Lalavee Operating Engineers 825
Nadine Leslie Suez Water
Ev Liebeman AARP
Ali Maher Center for Advanced Infrastructure & Transportation
Lauren Moore Atlantic County Economic Alliance
Jon Nardi New York Shipping Association
Cheryl Norton American Water
Fred Potter Teamsters
Mike Renna South Jersey Industries
Orlando Riley ATU
Nick Sifuentes Tri State Transportation Campaign
Scott Sprengel Executive VP of Coach USA and VP of the BANJ
Fred Warner AECOM
Steve Westhoven NJ Natural Resources
Ray Woodall Ironworkers
Charlie Wowkanech AFL-CIO

Here are members of Murphy’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council

Gov. Phil Murphy announced a Restart and Recovery Advisory Council, a group of New Jersey business and municipal leaders who will help organize plans to restart the state’s economy. The council will be divided into nine sector-based groups. Here are the members, by sector, as provided by the Governor’s Office:

Facilities and Construction

  • Marlene Asselta, SNJDC
  • David Barry, Ironstate Development
  • Joe Baumann, McManimon, Scotland & Baumann
  • Staci Berger, Housing and Community Development
  • Wasseem Boraie, Boraie Development LLC
  • David Brogan, N.J. Apartment Association
  • Sarah Clarke, DEVCO
  • Bill Colgan, Community Healthcare Associates
  • Jeff Crum, Community Asset Preservation Corp.
  • Morris Davis, Rutgers Center for Real Estate
  • Eileen Della Volle, KS Engineers
  • Mike DeMarco, Mack-Cali Realty Corp.
  • Joe DeMark, Sheetmetal Workers
  • Jeremy Farrell, LeFrak Organization
  • Carl Goldberg, Canoe Brook Management LLC
  • Lori Grifa, Archer & Greiner
  • Derrek Griggs, Affordable Housing Alliance
  • Michael Hanrahan, American Institute of Architects N.J.
  • Joe Jingoli, Joseph Jingoli & Son Inc.
  • Lisa John-Basta, CSG Law
  • Vinnie Lane, Painters
  • Mike Maloney, Pipetrades
  • Nevins McCann, Connell Foley
  • Mike McGuinness, NAIOP
  • Gil Medina, CBRE
  • Bill Mullen, Building Trades Council
  • Wendy Neu, Hugo Neu
  • Darwin Roman, National Association of Latino Professional Realtors
  • John Saraceno, Onyx
  • Carol Ann Short, NJBA
  • David Simon, Simon Property Group
  • Ron Simoncini, Axiom Communications
  • Bill Sproule, Carpenters
  • Elizabeth Tice, K. Hovnanian Homes
  • Richard Tolson, Bricklayers
  • Jerry Zaro, Sills Cummis


  • Peggy Anastos, LUPE
  • Ras Baraka, Urban Mayors
  • Joe Calabro, IBEW
  • Eugene Caldwell, Jail Wardens
  • Mike Cerra, League of Municipalities
  • Pat Colligan, N.J. State PBA
  • Tom DeGise, Hudson executive
  • Joe DiVincenzo, Essex executive
  • John Donnadio, NJAC
  • Ed Donnelly, N.J. FMBA
  • Bob Fox, N.J. FOP
  • Brian Hughes, Mercer executive
  • Al Kelly, Urban Mayors
  • Janice Kovach, Mayor/NJLM
  • Colleen Lapp, tax collector N.J.
  • Dennis Levinson, Atlantic executive
  • Mike Mastronardy, Sheriffs COA
  • Steve McConlogue, N.J. PFA
  • John McCormac, former treasurer
  • Dave Miller, County Finance Officers
  • Janice Mironov, N.J. Conference of Mayors/NJLM
  • Frank Moran, Urban Mayors
  • Teri O’Connor, NJA County Admins
  • Steve Peter, Clerks COA
  • Hetty Rosenstein, CWA
  • Gerry Seneski, Finance Officers
  • Connor Shaw, IUJAT
  • Susan Shin Angulo, mayor
  • Amol Sinha, ACLU
  • Jim Tedesco, Bergen executive
  • Steve Tully, AFSCME
  • Jaclyn Veasey, mayor
  • Matt Watkins, Municipal Managers

Health Care

  • David Baiada, Bayada Home Health Care
  • Mike Beson, Guide Strategies
  • Kevin Conlin, Horizon BCBSNJ
  • Joan Dublin, NJPA and Metropolitan FQHC in Jersey City
  • Shereef Elnahal, University Hospital
  • Nancy Fitterer, N.J. Home Healthcare Hospice Association
  • Dovid Friedman, CHEMED
  • Robert Garrett, Hackensack Meridian Health
  • Perry Halkitis, Rutgers School of Public Health
  • Heather Howard, Princeton, RWJF
  • Ev Liebman, AARP
  • Al Maghazehe, Capital Health
  • Ana Montero, formerly Red Cross leader
  • Kevin O’Dowd, Cooper Hospital
  • Barry Ostrowsky, RWJBarnabas Health
  • Jubril Oyeyemi, Cherry Hill Free Clinic – General Practice
  • John Regis, doctors representative
  • Milly Silva, SEIU 1199
  • Kevin J. Slavin, St. Joseph’s Health
  • Mark Taylor, N.J. Pharmacist Association
  • Keeanga Taylor, Princeton University
  • Mitchell Weiner, N.J. Dental Association
  • Debbie White, HPAE

Main Street

  • Stephen Blazejewski, N.J. LGBT Chamber
  • Linda Bowden, PNC Bank-Small Business
  • Francisco Cortes, New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce
  • Jeanne Cretella, NJRHA
  • Luis De La Hoz, Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of N.J.
  • Leon Fraser, NJSBDC
  • Barri Gibson, Ruby Red Roots
  • Bill Granfield, SEIU Local 100 – Unite Here (restaurant workers)
  • John Harmon, AACCNJ
  • Paul Hoffman, Liberty Science Center
  • Duvi Honig, Orthodox Chamber of Commerce
  • Frank Isoldi, Caldwell Banker
  • Jill Johnson, Institution for Entrepreneurial Leadership
  • Raymond Lamboy, Latin American Economic Development Association Inc.
  • Richard Lawton, N.J. Sustainable Business Council
  • Brandon McKoy, NJPP
  • Vonda McPherson, restaurant operator, Newark
  • John McWeeney, New Jersey Bankers
  • Carmen Mendiola, Restaurant and Small Business Advisory Committee in Jersey City
  • Maria Neives, HOLA
  • Priti Pandya-Patel, N.J. Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce
  • Vipul Patel, Asian American Retail Association
  • Ben Pearlman, NJRMA
  • Corinne Power, Camden restaurant operator
  • Christina Renna, Southern N.J. Chamber
  • Nadeem “Nick” Saleem, ICSJ/United Wealth Group LLC
  • John Sarno, Employers Association of N.J.
  • Michele Siekerka, NJBIA
  • Dean Smith, N.J. Main Street Alliance

Manufacturing and Supply Chain

  • Jeff Altschuler, Allied Beverage Group
  • Tiffany Bohlin, FullBlue360
  • Laurel Brennan, AFL-CIO
  • Patricia Campos Medina, the Worker Institute, ILR Cornell University
  • Kim Case, R&D Council
  • Gail Ciccione, Becton Dickinson
  • Jessica Culle, CATA
  • Sara Cullinane, Make the Road
  • Linda Doherty, N.J. Food Council
  • Lisa Dreilinger, RB
  • Adam Glauberg, Johnson & Johnson
  • Dennis Hart, N.J. Chemistry Council
  • Debbie Hart, BioNJ
  • John Impellizeri, Rutgers University
  • Jean-Pierre Issa, Coriell Institute for Medical Research
  • John Kennedy, NJMEP
  • Shirley Kline, Ag Community
  • Roxanne Lagano, Zoetis Inc.
  • Wendy Lazarus, Pfizer
  • Samuel Nesbit, FedEx
  • Dean Paranicas, HINJ
  • Mark Patterson, BASF
  • Alphonse Rispoli, Teamsters
  • Charles Rosen, Ironbound Farms
  • Nancy Rurkowski, Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Tony Russo, CIANJ
  • Joe Sheridan, Wakefern
  • Tom Szaky, Terracycle
  • Kim Van Utrecht, UPS
  • Dave Young, UFCW

Professional Services

  • Neil Bhaskar, Bode
  • Tom Bracken, N.J. Chamber of Commerce
  • Charlene Brown, ATT
  • Kevin Brown, SEIU 32-BJ
  • Cathleen Callahan, Bank of America
  • Art Cifelli, the Venn Group
  • Kevin Cummings, Investors Bank
  • Marilyn Davis, Altice
  • Alma DeMetropolis, JPMorgan Chase
  • Brenda Ross Dulan, Princeton Chamber
  • Marcus Dyer, WithumSmith+Brown
  • Don Katz, Audible
  • Mitch Livingston, NJM Insurance Group
  • Laura Matos, Kivvit, Lupe PAC
  • Carlos Medina, Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of N.J.
  • Michelle Meyer-Shipp, KPMG
  • Pamela Miller, Global Strategies
  • Christine O’Brien, Insurance Council of N.J.
  • Evelyn Padin, NJSBA
  • Raj Parikh, Genova Burns
  • Braxton Plummer, Verizon
  • Aaron Price, NJTC
  • Jatinder Singh
  • Jackie Taylor, EY
  • Gina Tedesco, Golden Seeds
  • Ian Trombley, NBC Universal
  • Kelly Watson, KPMG

Social Services and Faith

  • Mohsen Badran, ACCSES New Jersey Inc.
  • Tom Baffuto, the ARC of N.J.
  • Jessica Berrocal, N.J. Sisterhood
  • Jacob Caplan, Easterseals NJ
  • Tiffany Cardwell, Coalition of Day Care Centers in Jersey City-New Brunswick
  • Peter Chen, Advocates for Children N.J.
  • Joshua Cohen, Jewish Federation
  • Ronsha Dickerson, Camden We Choose
  • Eric Dobson, UBA/Fair Share Housing
  • The Rev. Raymond Fawole, African Pastors
  • Christian Fuscarino, Garden State Equality
  • Kiran Gaudioso, United Way Northern New Jersey
  • Susan Haspel, Boys & Girls Clubs in New Jersey
  • Elaine Helms, Rain Foundation
  • Renee Koubiadis, Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey
  • Adele LaTourette, Food Bank
  • Sara Lilja, LeamNJ
  • Wendy Martinez, Latino Pastors and Ministers
  • The Rev. Marilyn Monroe Harris
  • Salah Mustafa, ICPC
  • Joshua Rodriguez, National Latino Evangelical Coalition, New Jersey Coalition of Latino Pastors and Ministers
  • Carlos Rodriguez, Community FoodBank of New Jersey
  • The Rev. Louis Roundtree, Newark Office of Clergy Affairs
  • Phyllis Salowe-Kay, Citizen Action
  • Avi Schnall Agudath, Israel of America
  • The Rev. Dr. Danny Scotton, Alpha Baptist Church
  • The Rev. John Taylor, reverend in Trenton
  • The Rev. Lester Taylor, General Baptist Convention
  • Imam Uhmar Salahuddin, Pleasantville
  • Wei Han Zhou, Community Options

Tourism and Entertainment

  • Curtis Bashaw, Congress Hall
  • Steve Callender, Casino Association of New Jersey
  • Brian Cheripka, iStar Development
  • Vicki Clark, N.J. Tourism Industry Association
  • Dennis Drazin, Monmouth Racetrack
  • Haime Elhai, New York Jets
  • Curtis Farrow, Irving Street Rep
  • Jarrod Grasso, N.J. Realtors
  • Peter Guelli, New York Giants
  • Jeff Gural, GFP Real Estate
  • Marilou Halvorsen, N.J. Restaurant & Hospital Association
  • Bishop Robert Hargrove, Atlantic City Minister Coalition
  • Amy Herbold, Triple Five
  • Jim Kirkos, Meadowlands Chamber
  • Dan McCarthy, Lake Hopatcong Commission
  • Bob McDevitt, Local 54
  • Will Morey, Morey Piers
  • Kevin O’Brien, IATSE
  • Scott O’Neil, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment
  • Sheila Reynertson, NJPP
  • Marilyn Schlossbach, New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association
  • Brendan Sciarra, Cape May Brewing
  • Ron Vandeveen, MetLife Stadium
  • Peter Ward, Hotel Trades Council
  • Roberto Yañez, Univision
  • John Schreiber, NJPAC

Transportation and Infrastructure

  • Amit Bose, HNTB, Coalition for Northeast Corridor
  • Nat Bottigheimer, Regional Plan Association
  • Dave Smith, UTCA
  • Alixon Collazos, Public Affairs Expert
  • Dennis Dagget, ILA-1094
  • Jim Fakult, Jersey Central Power & Light Co.
  • Reva Foster, NJ-BIC
  • Pam Frank, Charge EVC
  • David Gahl, Solar Energy Industry Association
  • Steve Gardner, LiUNA
  • Dan Gumble, IBEW Local 164
  • Kim Haneman, PSE&G
  • Jerome Johnson, SMART
  • Jill Kaplan, United Airlines
  • Glen Kartalis, Council of Engineers
  • Jack Koscic, ACCNJ
  • Greg Lalavee, Operating Engineers 825
  • Nadine Leslie, Suez Water
  • Ev Liebeman, AARP
  • Ali Maher, Center for Advanced Infrastructure & Transportation
  • Lauren Moore, Atlantic County Economic Alliance
  • Jon Nardi, New York Shipping Association
  • Cheryl Norton, American Water
  • Fred Potter, Teamsters
  • Mike Renna, South Jersey Industries
  • Orlando Riley, ATU
  • Nick Sifuentes, Tri State Transportation Campaign
  • Scott Sprengel, Coach USA, BANJ
  • Fred Warner, AECOM
  • Steve Westhoven, N.J. Natural Resources
  • Ray Woodall, Ironworkers
  • Charlie Wowkanech, AFL-CIO

Hygiene Will Drive Long-Term Growth In Reusable Packaging Due To Virus

To say the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted consumer behavior would be an understatement. Everything about consumers’ purchase behavior, from what they buy to where they buy it, has been shaken up, and everyone is calling into question things they once took for granted as “safe.” Here’s how these new trends in consumer packaging will impact the reusable packaging industry in the mid and long-term, according to the Reusable Packaging Association.  

Debunking the myth that single-use packaging = hygienic

  The general public has historically assumed single-use disposable packaging is synonymous with hygienic; the assumption being that newly-manufactured packaging is by its very nature sanitary. In the current environment, however, people are becoming aware of just how many hands touch single-use packaging between manufacture and consumption. From people wiping down cereal boxes (unnecessary, by the way) to leaving e-commerce packages on the porch for days before touching, consumers are handling single-use packaging differently for added safety assurances.   “No disposable package is today sterile, just to be explicitly clear,” said Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, in a recent interview with Grist. Similarly, a statement by Upstream confirms, “Single-use disposables are subject to whatever pathogens have settled on them from manufacture, transport, inventory stocking and eventual use.” Of course, the chances of transmitting coronavirus through packaging of any kind are thought to be extremely low. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “…touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes…is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”   Still, the consumer behavior mentioned above shows the long-held public perception of the hygienic nature of single-use packaging is in question. In its place, there is now a hyper-focus on packaging sanitation processes and innovations—topics perhaps well-known to logistics and supply chain professionals, but as-yet unfamiliar to the general public.  

The growing importance of sanitation processes for packaging

  Forced to make hard decisions amidst all the unknowns of the coronavirus, companies like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have banned customers from bringing in reusable cups and some retail stores have banned reusable bags due to fears these items could potentially spread the virus if contaminated. These widely publicized actions have sparked a new public discourse about sanitation and different types of packaging, and how such items are sanitized.   The recent attention on packaging sanitation is new to many consumers, who’ve never thought twice about the cleanliness of the reusable plates, silverware and containers they utilize every time they eat in a restaurant. Now, some consumers are questioning sanitation processes even within their own homes—an unnecessary concern, according to Vineet Menachery, an assistant professor of microbiology at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Says Menachery, in an interview with Grist, “When it comes to reusable cups, mugs and plates, plain old soap and water does the trick.”   This attention can be expected to impact expectations on packaging of all kinds in the future, which will be a boost for the reusable packaging industry, as well-defined and sophisticated sanitation processes are already part of existing business models.  

Hygiene innovation in reusable models

  Necessity is the mother of invention, and the Coronavirus pandemic has already proven to be one tough mother, spurring major leaps forward in shared/reuse model hygiene.   Wheels, a shared bike service, is outfitting its bikes with self-cleaning NanoSeptic handlebars and brake levers. According to the company’s website, “NanoSeptic’s technology, which is powered by light, uses mineral nano-crystals to create an oxidation reaction that is stronger than bleach.” This technology is then applied to skins and mats to turn anything covered in its material into a self-cleaning surface.   Corplex, a leading corrugated plastic extrusion company, has developed translucent polycarbonate dividers to enable easy social distancing in office and warehouse environments. According to the company’s website, these hygienic dividers are easy to install, “…thicker than cardboard dividers, ideal when bigger wall partitions are needed…allowing good light transmission.”   In a post-Coronavirus world, these shared reusable models will emerge even stronger and more trustworthy to consumers, having made major advancements in addressing hygiene concerns through new product innovations and process validations.

Simple Sustainability 2020

Simple Sustainability 2020 Marking the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, 2020 has been a big year for the environmental movement. The world is changing before our eyes, and priorities have shifted. Now more than ever, focusing on solutions that are simple to stick to puts the sustainability in, well, sustainability! Making balanced choices over and over again needs to be easy, cost-effective, and rewarding up front, especially when the health and safety of our loved ones are paramount. A father of two sons myself, I cannot overstate the power of little lifestyle changes sustained over time, and that's coming from the CEO of a company on a mission to eliminate waste. Here are a few ways TerraCycle® can help you make simple, sustainable choices this year:

Upcycling DIY projects from our team of Design Junkies

No matter your age, there are always opportunities to learn something new, and getting crafty with our upcycling Do-It-Yourself projects is a great way to teach children and grown-ups about how items we are accustomed to throwing away can serve another use. Upcycling is different than recycling because it changes the function of an item without breaking it down, such as by using an empty glass bottle as a vase or turning a cardboard box into a collection bin for TerraCycle® programs. Also known as “creative reuse,” it’s a visual, artful way to see the possibilities. Here are some easy upcycling projects you can do at home.

Keep on recycling through our National Recycling Programs

Prevent litter from entering the environment and raise funds for your favorite schools and charities through our National Recycling Programs! Just save up the products and packaging you interact with every day to ship to us for recycling with free downloadable return labels when your “creatively reused” boxes are full. These easy-to-use programs have a huge impact by putting material normally headed for landfills to good use. We can help; our tips and tricks for recycling at home include sorting advice and fun storage ideas. Stay tuned for new programs launching every month!

Recycle everything with Zero Waste Box™

Now's a great time to spring clean and look through rooms for items that no longer serve you. For the many types of products and packaging we don't currently have a free recycling program for, our comprehensive line of Zero Waste Boxes are an all-in-one way to keep these valuable items out of landfills.

Look forward to Loop

This reusable shopping system is making headlines. Live in the United States and France and coming to Toronto later this year, Loop is the new service from TerraCycle offering your favorite products in beautiful, counter-worthy containers that can be refilled again and again, changing the way the world shops. Buy trusted brands reimagined in durable packages made of engineered plastics, metal alloys, and glass conveniently delivered right to your door. Best part? We’ll pick up your empties and ship new when done.

This Earth Day and beyond, pay closer attention to where the companies you support stand on the issues that matter to you. Be it recycling, litter prevention, environmental conservation, or wildlife protection, when you align your consumption with your values, saving the planet for your family and future generations becomes the easy thing to do. My company and the world’s sustainable brands are here to empower you with the tools, resources, and products making a difference in your day-to-day lives. Keep demanding simple solutions, and you shall receive.

Earth Day 50th Anniversary: How Far We’ve Come ... or Not?

Each Earth Day sets a new benchmark for what consumers expect from their trusted brands, muses TerraCycle and Loop CEO/founder Tom Szaky. And it can’t be growth at the expense of a planet running dry.   For better or worse, business is the most powerful force for change on Earth. Over the course of human civilization, business and industry have increasingly allowed us to become smarter, greener, healthier, and more connected to one another, functioning to provide products and services to fulfill public needs and desires, as well as drive innovation and global trends. Its virtues notwithstanding, business also drove the world to the consumption fever-pitch that misaligned our activities with nature so much that it provoked the late-century environmental movement, a pinnacle of which was the first Earth Day: April 22, 1970. Celebrating 50 years this week with the timely theme “24 Hours of Action” (updated from the more general “Climate Action” to feature fully digital programming in the advent of the coronavirus pandemic), the annual event’s impacts on the world are indelible, but not necessarily revolutionary. The birth of Earth Day was a direct response to a series of environmental disasters and mounting public concerns about single-use packaging, litter, and pollution. Individuals, schools, and communities mobilized around the lack of protections for consumers and the environment. It was a reaction to perceived inaction, and one intended to incite the public to change. Industry has long put pressure on governments to allow them the latitude to operate as they would like, stymying regulation and mandates for extended producer responsibility (EPR), the policy concept that extends a manufacturer’s responsibility for reducing impacts (such as pollution and waste) all the way to the hands of consumers. More than 110 EPR laws are currently in place for 13+ product categories in more than 30 US states. However, the United States as a country — the originators of the first Earth Day and its current base — is currently one of only three nations of the 35-member Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that does not have an EPR system specifically for existing packaging or one under development, despite packaging being a significant concern regarding waste. Some experts say voluntary industry-led programs rarely lead to the systemic changes needed to significantly impact the status quo, in addition to not providing the same sustainable funding sources as government mandates. However, industry, unlike governments, can steward reform and de-risk the political process of governments by acting in their own best interest. The events surrounding what Earth Day founder Denis Hayes called "the largest secular holiday in the world” can reveal the annual commemoration (since expanded to include Earth Month, hosted by a different organization entirely) as more of an exercise in public relations rather than a vehicle for policy change. Leading up to that first Earth Day, mass production, synthetic materials, and disposability took off in the 1950s, and the effects of overconsumption quickly surfaced within the decade while much of industry remained unregulated. The “business as usual” went on as long as it worked for the private interest, depending on sales to consumers and the ability of the environment to sustain its operations. But then, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring mainstreamed the hazards of the common pesticide DDT in 1962, which turned the public eye to agriculture. The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill (the largest oil spill in California waters to date) had enough of an economic impact on commercial and ocean-related industries that it is credited with galvanizing not only Earth Day, but the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency later that year. When consumers become aware that companies profit at the expense of the health and safety of their families, wildlife, and the natural world, they stop buying. So, any progress made by way of regulation and product redesign since the first Earth Day has largely been to the degree business is compelled to make a change. When that happens, the governments are that much more supported in public-serving legislation, but this process is slow and mired by bureaucracy, special interests, and inequities around the world. In the case of global movements for social, economic, and environmental revolution, the best interests of business often then lie in serving people, the planet, and ultimately, profits. We are upon one of the most important, monumental Earth Days of our recent history, and it occurs in the midst of what too many brands have referred to as “uncertain times,” a situation many would argue as a direct result of the very thing driving the environmental movement: the interference of human activities in nature’s balanced system. With confidence, I can say that every Earth Day from here till the centennial will set a new benchmark for what consumers expect from the brands they let into their lives, and how they depend on companies, rather than government mandates, to protect them. Rather than driving consumption and externalizing negatives to create growth at the expense of a planet running dry, companies have an opportunity to take action and show the world why their business is essential — now and on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How Is the Coronavirus Pandemic Affecting Climate Change?

IT IS AN invisible, deadly menace. It’s causing almost unfathomable economic destruction. We knew it was coming, but were caught woefully unprepared. It tricked nations into blaming one another—the US being the primary antagonist—instead of working together to stop it.   It is the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, and it is climate change. The two are intimately linked: As you’d expect, emissions have fallen as people drive less and industries grind to a halt. But dig deeper into how the pandemic is influencing the climate, and surprising and often counterintuitive dynamics begin to emerge. This is your guide to those complexities.   Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this story as more research becomes available.   Yes, Emissions Are Falling. But Not for Long   Back in February, an analysis by the climate group Carbon Brief found that as the pandemic seized hold of China’s economy and heavy industries shuttered, emissions from the country plummeted by an incredible 25 percent. Another analysis by Carbon Brief in early April estimated that globally this year, emissions could fall by 5.5 percent from 2019 levels. That figure may seem low, given that fewer cars are on roads and industries have stalled, but with context, it’s stunning: Until now, emissions have been reliably increasing by a few percent year after year. That’s happening even though the world’s nations pledged to individually reduce their emissions as part of the Paris Agreement, with the ultimate goal of keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial global temperatures.   The 5.5 percent figure tops the 3 percent reduction in emissions that followed the 2008 financial crash, when economies also slowed and people traveled less. But emissions bounced right back as the economy recovered. Indeed, says Zeke Hausfather, the director of climate and energy at the Breakthrough Institute, which advocates for climate action, we can expect economies to roar back with fervor to make up for lost income. “Broadly speaking, the only real times we've seen large emission reductions globally in the past few decades is during major recessions,” Hausfather told WIRED in March. “But even then, the effects are often smaller than you think. It generally doesn't lead to any sort of systematic change.”   Electricity Use in the US Has Declined Slightly, But Gasoline Sales Dropped Big Time   Anecdotally, we can say that Americans are driving far less, given all the empty freeways. And now Northern Arizona University climate scientist Kevin Gurney has the data to back it up: The amount of gasoline supplied in the US—a close measurement of direct consumption—fell by 50 percent over the two-week period ending April 3. “Not surprising, given what we all would expect to happen, but it’s just stunning to see it,” Gurney says. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my 25 years of looking at this data.”   Interestingly, the amount of diesel supplied has remained fairly stable. That’s probably due to it being more of a commercial fuel, used for the semi trucks that are still making deliveries while the rest of us keep our cars in the garage.   Electricity use across the country has declined a bit, but nowhere near as dramatically as with fuel supplies. “I think the speculation is a lot of the activity that uses electricity isn’t going down, it’s just shifting where it's occurring,” Gurney adds. “So instead of commercial buildings being leaned on a little more heavily between 9 and 5, we’re at home using energy.”   This might offer a clue to why the emissions reductions worldwide are so much smaller than the 25 percent reduction scientists saw in China’s emissions earlier this year. It could depend on the structure of different nations’ economies. China is a major manufacturing center, which uses massive amounts of energy to keep production running. But the US and many other nations have offshored much of their manufacturing and transitioned into being service economies. When China’s workers go home, those emission-heavy industries close down. When workers in some other nations go home, they keep working, shifting the energy consumption from offices to houses. Don’t assume, though, that industrial energy consumption in the US won’t also change dramatically in the coming weeks. “We’re still in the middle of this,” Gurney says. “I would be hesitant to say that we’re not going to see a big industrial signal. I think it tends to lag a little bit because a lot of industry will continue to produce.”   This Is Our Chance to Reinvent Cities   If the streets are a city’s veins, cars are the blood coursing through them—but they’re a pathogen, of sorts. Cars killed over 6,000 pedestrians in 2018 in the US, and air pollution kills perhaps 200,000 more here each year.   With all those cars now sequestered in garages, air quality around the world has gone through the roof. In March, for instance, researchers at Columbia University calculated that carbon monoxide emissions in New York City, mostly coming from vehicles, fell by 50 percent. With that will come a dramatic improvement in public health, and at just the right time: New research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has shown that air pollution is associated with higher Covid-19 death rates. They did this by looking at 3,000 US counties and comparing Covid-19 deaths and levels of fine particulate matter in the air. They found that even small increases in long-term exposure to the pollutants leads to significantly higher mortality. That makes sense, since this is a disease that attacks the lungs.   But maybe our suddenly clearer skies don’t have to be temporary. We’re getting a taste of how much more livable our cities would be if we designed them for people, not cars. Closing roads to cars altogether—as cities like Boston and Oakland, California, have done during the crisis—means people can walk and bike in safety, itself a boost to public health.   “We call this a ‘psychic outcome,’ of people realizing what we’ve absorbed from the slow intensification of urban life as it relates to vehicles,” Gurney notes. “It’s potentially a moment where we can get a clearer picture of what we’ve slowly kind of numbed ourselves to. Cities are profoundly dominated by vehicles.”   Done incorrectly, though, a rethinking of cities could exacerbate inequalities. Cities have, necessarily, severely curtailed public transportation to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. But this disproportionately affects those who can’t afford cars, and who might rely on public transport to get to their essential jobs or shop for food.   “The actions cities are taking that are purely to give people room to roam, not necessarily room to get anywhere, I think they’re useful,” Tabitha Combs, who studies transportation planning and policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told WIRED in April. “But I don’t think they’re enough and I don’t think they’re equitable.”   In a Weird Way, Some Air Pollution Actually Reduces Warming   In March, researchers at the University of Washington and Goethe University Frankfurt published a study that quantified one of the stranger consequences of air pollution: It can actually bounce the sun’s energy back into space, thus helping cool the planet.   Specifically, they looked at a phenomenon called cloud brightening, in which the particulate sulfate pollution that cargo ships spew makes its way into clouds. The sulfate particles attract water vapor, making a cloud brighter, and therefore better able to reflect sunlight. Ships actually leave trails of brightened clouds known as “ship tracks” as they chug across the oceans.   The researchers analyzed a shipping lane in the south Atlantic Ocean, which conveniently has winds blowing along it, instead of across it. For this reason, they could clearly delineate how reflective the clouds are directly over the lane, and just outside it, and compare the two. The effect turns out to be substantial: The brightened clouds can block an additional 2 watts of solar energy from reaching each square meter of the ocean’s surface.   They then calculated what that would mean at the planetary scale over both land and sea, and found that, in general, pollution-seeded clouds block 1 watt of energy per square meter of planet Earth. For comparison, anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions trap 3 watts per square meter. “We’re saying globally, from all types of industrial pollution, that has offset approximately a third of the greenhouse gas warming that we've experienced to the present,” says University of Washington atmospheric scientist Michael Diamond, lead author on the study.   That’s got Diamond and his colleagues wondering how that phenomenon is now playing out across the world as air quality improves. This of course varies with the fuel: The reason cargo ships seed clouds so well is that they use super-dirty fuel that flings lots of sulfate into the air (less so now, though, as international regulations mandating low-sulfur fuel went into effect January 1). Coal and natural-gas power plants on land don’t produce sulfates on the scale that ship fuel does. The researchers also have to factor in how land and sea absorb the sun’s energy differently. While you might think the ocean would be great at reflecting light, if you look at it from space, it’s basically black. That’s why the oceans have been warming so dramatically of late.   To be clear: Air pollution is a major threat to human health. The carbon monoxide cars spew is toxic, and CO2 has led to runaway global warming. But in a bizarre way, this specific type of emission seems to help cool the planet.   Cheap Oil Means the Pandemic Is Producing Mountains of Plastic Waste   Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the economics of recycling were a mess. For it to make financial sense to recycle plastic bottles, a recycling company has to make more money selling the recycled material than it takes to gather and process those bottles. Given the low price of oil in recent years, it’s often cheaper for companies to buy virgin plastic bottles than recycled ones. (And oil producers’ sales have crashed and the price of oil cratered even further now that we’re all staying home.)   In the age of coronavirus, many recycling facilities are shutting down to protect their workers, so what little was recycled before now isn’t recycled at all. At the same time, we’re consuming more single-use plastic than ever. We’re stocking up on soap and hand sanitizer, and Amazon is hiring 100,000 extra workers to keep up demand, packing individually wrapped products into boxes. People are getting plastic-sheathed takeout from restaurants instead of dining in and eating off of reusable plates with metal utensils. “So disposability is going like crazy,” Tom Szaky, the founder and CEO of the recycling company TerraCycle, told WIRED. “And during Covid, we saw that the recycling equation that was bad anyway and trending down is even worse.”   Every Nation Needs a Big, Bold, New Green Deal   An inconvenient truth about fossil fuels is that they’re an extremely useful and cheap form of energy. For an economically developing country in particular, the allure of fossil fuels is they allow rapid industrialization. Renewable energies like solar wind are still relatively expensive to set up compared with coal and natural gas, which is why governments usually subsidize them to green their economies.   But looking back at the 2008 financial crisis shows a way forward: The stimulus package in the US helped invigorate the green-energy economy by pumping $90 billion into the development of technologies like geothermal power, biofuels, and solar energy. “If you look at the data, a few years after that, you do start to see a huge increase in solar,” says Louisiana State University environmental scientist Brian Snyder.   The likelihood of the Trump administration doing the same has about a snowball’s chance on this increasingly warm planet. But if the feds keep interest rates low to make borrowing easier and jump-start the economy, it’ll be easier to finance a wind farm or solar facility. “So that might be an effect where certainly the administration didn't mean to do it, but they nonetheless sort of juice the ability of some renewable energy systems to replace coal,” adds Snyder. The challenge, though, will be making those systems economically attractive enough given the staying power of oil, which is now even cheaper thanks to the pandemic.   Climate Research in the Coronavirus Age   Scientists, they’re just like us—in the sense that they too are stuck at home during the pandemic. And that’s a big problem for climate science. “It’s disruptive, there’s no question,” says Gurney, the climate scientist at Northern Arizona University. “For anybody who’s got to do fieldwork, or relies on things that aren’t automated instrumentation out there, this is a serious, serious problem.”   If you can’t get on a boat, you can’t collect data on how the oceans are warming and acidifying. Scientists who monitor the effects of climate change on wildlife can’t go out and collect photos from camera traps. Conserving species imperiled by climate change isn’t a passive process—conservationists have to be out there actively monitoring and preserving their habitats. If you study how permafrost is thawing in the Arctic, you’re out of luck as well. Even if a scientist can collect data remotely, for instance by aggregating government data, they may not have access to the requisite computing power at home.   “There will probably be a record gap that’ll be a problem, and if it goes on long enough it’ll be a real problem,” says Gurney. “A few weeks, you could say 'Well, we might be able to deal with that.' But if it turns into months, that becomes a significant problem for anybody who has to go out in the field.”

Recycling Takes Another Hit During Pandemic

Even in normal times recycling faced challenges. According to a February Packaging World article on recycling, the majority of critical recycling issues in the U.S. are related to sorting and management of discarded plastics, because the capacity and capability of recycling centers is not adequate for the amount of recycling needed. And now many recyclers are closing shop during the pandemic, and even more waste is headed to landfills or incineration.   Consumer compliance and cost are other issues. With the pandemic, the amount of single use plastic and packaging is growing (think take out containers from all of the closed restaurants, water bottles and other wrapped items purchased by a virus-wary public, and a massive growth in medical waste), and if not disposed of properly by the consumer, will head for the landfill. Amazon and other e-retailers are hiring employees to keep up with the demand of consumers who are staying home and ordering what they need, and all of this additional e-commerce requires additional secondary packaging which must be properly disposed of.   Recycling has long had issues with financial feasibility. A ton of low-grade mixed plastics in CA would fetch $20 in 2017, but in 2018 it cost $10 to dispose of the same ton of mixed plastics. In 2018 China stopped purchasing the U.S. recyclable materials, increasing the amount of material that needed to be processed locally.   A pandemic-influenced drop in oil prices makes plastic even cheaper to produce, and according to a recent Wired article, as the Coronavirus has taken a toll on the price of oil, it will no longer “make economic sense for a company to process and sell recycled materials if they end up being more expensive than the virgin plastic another company is making.”   The Wired article quotes Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, who says that lightweighting plastic bottles – while saving money for the manufacturer – is also creating a product that “becomes progressively less profitable for a garbage company to bother recycling.”   Like so many things, the near-term outlook for recycling and waste-processing will need to recover from the pandemic’s wave, but the future still has hope. According to a new report on Sustainability from PMMI Business Intelligence, the global sustainable packaging market is expected to grew at a CAGR of approximately 6% by 2025, reaching $280 billion for packaging that is recyclable, biodegradable, compostable or defined as green.  

Single-use plastic is having a resurgence during the pandemic

For those seeking silver linings in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the notable drop-off in air pollution has been a recurring bright spot. But while the skies might be clearing up (at least temporarily) while millions of people shelter in place, humans are poisoning the planet in other ways. Increased demand for medical supplies, households stocking up on tons of goods, and fears over COVID-19 spreading across different surfaces has single-use plastics on the rise — and as Wired reports, we're running out of places to put it.   As more plastic waste pours in, the already overwhelmed recycling system is at risk of getting completely buried. Prior to coronavirus, many recycling companies were already struggling to deal with the more than 300 million tons of plastic discarded every year — nearly 50 percent of which is single-use. According to the Earth Institute at Columbia University, only about 10 percent of all discarded plastic products in the United States actually get recycled — a fact the plastic industry knew for years while touting recycling programs that would never be viable. Nearly 75 percent ends up in landfills, where it can sit and erode for hundreds of years, releasing carbon dioxide as it degrades and often making its way into waterways and oceans. It's likely that as the country produces more plastic waste in this time of crisis, even more will be heading to landfills, as the already inundated recycling firms slow their operations. "Many recyclers, because of health and safety concerns, are also stopping the service,” Tom Szaky, CEO of recycling company TerraCycle, told Wired. “Recycling — that's been in sort of a crash — is now getting even worse.”   Those slowdowns are happening in tandem with a resurgence in single-use plastics. This is happening for a number of reasons, both out of necessity and potentially unfounded fears. Plastic bags have made a comeback during the coronavirus crisis due to concerns that reusable bags may carry the virus. A number of states and cities have reversed plastic bag bans and some have even instituted restrictions on reusable totes. While it is known that coronavirus can survive longer on certain surfaces, there doesn't appear to be any evidence that the virus is more viable on a cloth tote than a plastic bag, particularly if the bag is washed after use — though the plastic bag is likely to be discarded after one use, limiting additional exposure. With people worried that the virus can be transmitted through a number of surfaces, the demand for packaged goods is on the rise as well. According to FoodNavigator, demand for packaged goods has skyrocketed in Europe by as much as 111 percent for some items as compared to the previous year.     There is also the fact that the price of oil has dropped dramatically, which makes producing plastic goods cheaper than usual — and they aren’t all that expensive to begin with. Plastics are made from oil, and when the price of oil drops far enough, it can result in it actually being cheaper to produce new plastic products than recycle old ones. And when the demand for recycled goods disappears, more plastic ends up in landfills, slowly eroding and polluting the planet.   Plastic waste doesn't have the same effect as something like air pollution — we don't immediately see the damage as it occurs. But the change in our consumption habits will be immediately felt at the landfills that are already being overrun. It will be felt by oceans that are already at risk of having more pieces of plastic than fish by 2050. Even the short burst of uptick in plastic waste could cause significant disruption to the waste and recycling ecosystems. According to Waste Dive, dozens of cities and counties across the country have suspended recycling programs entirely. Rachel Meidl, a fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute, told Wired, “materials that would normally find its way to recyclers are being channeled to landfills and incinerators.” So before touting that "we are the virus" meme and spouting off to your friends about how the Earth is healing while we're all trapped indoors, remember that there are a lot of ways we can hurt the planet without ever leaving our couches.  

Recycling Takes Another Hit During Pandemic

Even in normal times recycling faced challenges. According to a February Packaging World article on recycling, the majority of critical recycling issues in the U.S. are related to sorting and management of discarded plastics, because the capacity and capability of recycling centers is not adequate for the amount of recycling needed. And now many recyclers are closing shop during the pandemic, and even more waste is headed to landfills or incineration.   Consumer compliance and cost are other issues. With the pandemic, the amount of single use plastic and packaging is growing (think take out containers from all of the closed restaurants, water bottles and other wrapped items purchased by a virus-wary public, and a massive growth in medical waste), and if not disposed of properly by the consumer, will head for the landfill. Amazon and other e-retailers are hiring employees to keep up with the demand of consumers who are staying home and ordering what they need, and all of this additional e-commerce requires additional secondary packaging which must be properly disposed of.   Recycling has long had issues with financial feasibility. A ton of low-grade mixed plastics in CA would fetch $20 in 2017, but in 2018 it cost $10 to dispose of the same ton of mixed plastics. In 2018 China stopped purchasing the U.S. recyclable materials, increasing the amount of material that needed to be processed locally.   A pandemic-influenced drop in oil prices makes plastic even cheaper to produce, and according to a recent Wired article, as the Coronavirus has taken a toll on the price of oil, it will no longer “make economic sense for a company to process and sell recycled materials if they end up being more expensive than the virgin plastic another company is making.”   The Wired article quotes Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, who says that lightweighting plastic bottles – while saving money for the manufacturer – is also creating a product that “becomes progressively less profitable for a garbage company to bother recycling.”   Like so many things, the near-term outlook for recycling and waste-processing will need to recover from the pandemic’s wave, but the future still has hope. According to a new report on Sustainability from PMMI Business Intelligence, the global sustainable packaging market is expected to grew at a CAGR of approximately 6% by 2025, reaching $280 billion for packaging that is recyclable, biodegradable, compostable or defined as green.

Yet Another Consequence of the Pandemic: More Plastic Waste

  SO YOU GOT your jumbo pack of toilet paper from Costco. You speed home so nobody Mad Maxes you off the highway and steals your treasure, and immediately rip open the plastic packaging and throw it in the recycling bin. You stash rolls in the bathroom, but also hide them around the house, in case your family becomes less of a family and more of a free-for-all, and everyone ends up fighting to the death over TP.   A few days later, you take out your recycling, figuring that plastic wrap will find new life as plastic wrap elsewhere. The reality is it will become trash because, this being capitalism, it wouldn’t be economically feasible to recycle it even at the best of times. But now, with the coronavirus pandemic worsening, even stalwart recyclables like bottles and cans and cardboard are in many places going straight to the dump.   In some ways, the pandemic has been great for the environment: With heavy industries shutting down and fewer cars on the road, we’re spewing less greenhouse gases and air quality is vastly improving. “The world is breathing better, objectively,” says Tom Szaky, the founder and CEO of the recycling company TerraCycle. “This is the great irony—the world will breathe better, but wake up to an even bigger garbage crisis.”   Recycling was already in a crisis in recent years, due to a confluence of factors. But now the coronavirus pandemic is here to kneecap it. “Many recyclers, because of health and safety concerns, are also stopping the service,” says Szaky. “Recycling—that's been in sort of a crash—is now getting even worse.”   The recycling industry has been suffering from a trio of maladies. First, given that plastic is oil, when oil prices fall—as they have in recent years—plastic gets cheaper to make. This corrupts the economics of recycling. To be financially feasible, a recycling operation has to make more money than what it costs to gather the waste and process it. If oil, and therefore plastic, is cheap to begin with—and the coronavirus crisis has thoroughly cratered the price of oil—it doesn’t make economic sense for a company to process and sell recycled materials if they end up being more expensive than the virgin plastic another company is making.   You might think that the science is lagging, that it’s just not possible to recycle the materials we would want to, or perhaps that the recycling infrastructure isn’t robust enough. “It has nothing to do with that,” says Szaky. “It has everything to do with the economic equation: Is there a business model?”   The second reason is that for decades the United States sold mountains of recyclable materials to China for processing. But in 2018, China said no thanks to all that anymore, and banned imports of plastic and mixed paper. That was part of the nation’s bid to boost its own domestic garbage collection and, well, not have their country drown in plastic bottles. That left the US without a massive market upon which to jettison its waste.   “The third is what no one notices, that the quality of the waste is going down,” says Szaky. This is known as “lightweighting,” and it was happening long before the pandemic began. By making plastic bottles thinner, the manufacturer saves money by using less plastic. But, Szaky says, “it becomes progressively less profitable for a garbage company to bother recycling.”   And so an industry already in tumult has run headlong into the coronavirus pandemic. Now single-use plastics are more popular than ever as people panic-buy disposable items like water bottles, plus other products wrapped safely in the confines of plastic, like hand sanitizer and tissues and foods. Then, of course, people scrub these all with sanitizing wipes, themselves packaged in single-use plastic containers.   Toilet paper sales in the US in March were up 112 percent from the previous year—and would have been far higher if it weren’t for shortages—while aerosol disinfectants were up 343 percent. In the last week of February, hand sanitizer sales were up 313 percent from the same week last year. Amazon has had to hire 100,000 extra workers to keep up with demand—packing individually wrapped products into cardboard boxes bound for your doorstep.   In addition, the restaurant where you used to eat food off plates using metal utensils now sells you a to-go bag full of individually-wrapped dishes. And I doubt you’ll want to reuse that bag. Indeed, in the Bay Area, you’re not even allowed to bring your reusable bags to the grocery store anymore, lest you bring the virus from your home to the checkout counter. In early March, Starbucks stopped filling customers’ reusable cups for the same reason, before shuttering stores altogether. “So disposability is going like crazy,” says Szaky. “And during Covid, we saw that the recycling equation that was bad anyway, and trending down, is even worse.”   Even if the industry could handle this crush of “recyclables,” and even if it were economically feasible to process all the stuff, many recyclers have shut down in response to the pandemic. Curbside recycling programs have been suspended by dozens of county and local governments, from Miami to Los Angeles County, according to the trade publication Waste Dive. Recycling facilities are struggling to figure out how to protect their workers, who are concerned about virus exposure from handling materials.     TerraCycle, which gets many of its recyclables from stores, has obviously seen materials dry up, too. “I mean, we have collection points in 100,000 retailers around the world, and all of those are closed right now,” says Szaky.   In addition, over half of the states with container redemption programs—the way you as an individual can get money for each can or bottle you collect—are temporarily suspending enforcement. “Thus, materials that would normally find its way to recyclers are being channeled to landfills and incinerators,” says Rachel Meidl, a fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute, who studies plastics.   Making matters worse is the deluge of waste coming out of hospitals running on overdrive right now: You can’t just recycle a plastic face shield a doctor used while treating a Covid patient. Any biohazardous waste generated from Covid-19 at medical facilities, or samples from coronavirus test sites, has to be properly packaged and sent to a hazardous waste facility for incineration.   All told, the coronavirus crisis is producing more and more waste that’s either contaminated or not economical to recycle, and would be even if the recycling infrastructure was still running at full capacity. “With restaurants shifting to take-out, which requires the use of single-use plastics, consumers stockpiling groceries and bottled water, and the medical community rapidly turning over protective equipment, there has undoubtedly been an uptick in plastic waste due to the coronavirus pandemic,” says Meidl.   When we finally get a vaccine and the crisis begins to wane, our skies will once again fill with smog as we commute and spin up heavy industries, and the temptation will be to rely more heavily than ever on single-use plastics out of fears of sharing any lingering germs. But there are ways to do better. TerraCycle, for instance, runs a program that delivers products like shampoo in durable containers that customers ship back once the product is gone, for cleaning and reuse.   We need this kind of behavioral shift because recycling isn’t a panacea; indeed, it was the plastic industry’s push for recycling that got us into this mess. By shifting the blame for plastic pollution onto the consumers, they manipulated us into thinking the problem was ours to solve. The solution for the past few decades has been encouraging individuals to recycle, not to demand that the industry stop churning out so much single-use plastic. That narrative could be crumbling, though, as scientists continue to uncover the pervasiveness of plastic pollution: Sea creatures’ stomachs are filling up with plastic bags and microplastics are blowing from cities onto pristine mountaintops.   The trouble is that our modern society wouldn’t exist without the stuff—it’s just too damn useful. Big investments from industries and governments could develop better recycling technologies and more easily recyclable plastics that would increase the profitability of recycling. But it matters, too, whether we think of plastics as essentially disposable or recyclable. “The bottom line is, no matter how much government funding is allocated towards recycling efforts,” says Meidl, “there first needs to be a significant paradigm shift in human behavior where plastic is deemed as a resource and not a waste.”