July 23, 1998
CONTACT:  Bill Sheehan,
Network Coordinator
(Bill Sheehan)


Grassroots Activist Network Receives New Funding

(ATLANTA, Georgia, USA)   Athens GA-based GrassRoots Recycling Network has received two new grants totaling $130,000 over two years to develop a national Zero Waste Campaign.  The grants were awarded by the Turner Foundation (Atlanta, GA) and the Florence and John Schumann Foundation (Montclair, NJ).

   The GrassRoots Recycling Network is a coalition of recycling and community-based activists who work through advocacy, grassroots organizing and public education to promote three messages:  (1) Zero Waste, (2) Create Jobs from Discards, and (3) End Corporate Welfare for Wasting.  GRRN was founded two years ago by members of the California Resource Recovery Association, Washington DC-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and the Sierra Club Waste Committee.

   "In just two years we have changed the recycling debate among professional recyclers and solid waste managers" said Bill Sheehan, GRRN Network Coordinator.  "At GRRN's inception we were defending why we should recycle at all, and now we're pushing recycling and resource conservation to the limits.  Our next step is to take the Zero Waste message to the American public."

   "Zero Waste - or darned close to it" has been defined as "the production of good or services in which waste generation and management are not acceptable outcomes."

   "It is critical that we begin addressing the root causes of waste, particularly the lack of manufacturer responsibility for wasting," said Rick Best, GRRN [Steering Committe] Chair and Policy Director of Californians Against Waste.  "Local governments and taxpayers are making major commitments to recycle, but are losing ground against the tide of disposable products and packaging and the failure of many manufacturers to use recycled materials.  Both policy makers and consumers need to hold these manufacturers accountable for reducing waste and preserving our precious natural resources."

   GRRN is currently organizing recyclers across the country to help release a report detailing billions of dollars of federal tax subsidies that undermine recycling.  The tax give-aways support extraction of virgin resources that compete directly with the recycled resources that are the feedstock for tens of thousands of reuse, recycling, and composting entrepreneurs in the United States.  The report, titled Welfare for Wasting, is a collaboration between GRRN and three organizations based in Washington, DC:  Taxpayers for Common Sense, the Materials Efficiency Project and Friends of the Earth.

   One of the corporations that has broken its commitment to recycle is the Coca-Cola Company.  GRRN made a splash last year by demonstrating at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, challenging Coke to live up to its 1990 promise to use recycled plastic in its soda bottles.

   "Eight years later, Coke has still not followed through on its promise," said Eric Lombardi, GRRN member and Executive Director of EcoCycle in Boulder CO.  "Coke uses recycled content bottles in Europe and Australia - why not here?  Coke's failed promise has been a major factor in the collapse of the soda bottle recycling market.  We intend to organize the public to hold Coke accountable for reducing waste."

   The new funding will allow GRRN to increase consumer pressure on corporations to reduce manufacturing waste, design products for recycling, and to take responsibility for products from "cradle to cradle."  A WasteMaker Awards program is being developed to highlight corporations doing harm to the environment by selling unrecycled or unrecyclable products.  GRRN has issued a call for nominations.

   "People seem to think that recycling has been 'solved.'  After all, more than one hundred and eighty million people recycle every day," said Alicia Lyttle, GRRN Steering Committee member and a student at Tulane University.

   "But funding for recycling is being cut, some corporations are reneging on commitments to recycle, and, in the final analysis, recycling is simply not reducing our use of forest, mineral and nonrenewable petroleum resources to sustainable levels," Lyttle continued.  "We owe it to our children to level the playing field for resource conservation and move towards a more sustainable Zero Waste society."

   "We are excited about the foundations' recognition of our work and look forward to using their support to bring the message of Zero Waste to the general public," said Sheehan.

   As a result of the recent grants, GRRN has hired founding member Bill Sheehan as Network Coordinator.  Sheehan is a leader of Georgians for a Bottle Bill and is chair of the Sierra Club's national Zero Waste Task Force.  Rick Best has taken over as Chairperson of the eight-member Steering Committee.

   GrassRoots Recycling Network Steering Committee:
  • Rick Best, Chair (Californians Against Waste; Sacramento, CA)
  • Rick Anthony (California Resource Recovery Association; San Diego, CA)
  • Resa Dimino (Nonprofit Recycling Council of the National Recycling Coalition; Bronx, NY)
  • David Kirkpatrick (KirkWorks & Sustainable Jobs Fund; Durham, NC)
  • Alicia Lyttle (student, Tulane University; New Orleans, LA)
  • Brenda Platt, (Institute for Local Self-Reliance; Washington, DC)
  • Maurice Sampson (Clean Water Action & Philadelphia Recycling Alliance; Phila., PA)
  • Bill Sheehan, Network Coordinator (GrassRoots Recycling Network; Atlanta, GA)

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