History of The Recycling Foundation
State History: The state of Washington is a national leader in environmental conservation. In 1989 the state adopted landmark waste reduction and recycling legislation – the Waste Not Washington Act. Washington state rapidly became recognized as a national recycling leader with the implementation of municipal collection programs, a strong citizen education effort, and the entrepreneurial marketing of recycled materials by the private sector. In 1995, Washington achieved a recycling rate of 39%. The State was well on its way to meeting the 50% recycling goal set forth by the 1989 legislation.
In the later 1990s, Washington’s recycling rate began a disappointing decline, dropping to 33% in 1999. The rate continued to stagnate moving into the early 2000’s. It has hovered around 50% in recent years.
Additionally, in 1995, the Washington state legislature began changing the priorities and funding for Washington State Department of Ecology. A 1% state tax levied on solid waste disposal to fund solid waste programs was allowed to expire. State-supported recycling and waste reduction activities were reduced or eliminated, and grants and other sources of funding were dramatically cut. Two of the publicly funded programs were the Waste Reduction & Recycling Public Information and Education Program (WRRPIE) and the “Away with Waste” curriculum. These and other important recycling education programs were administered by the Washington State Depart of Ecology and provided critical support to local governments in the form of grants, educational materials, and teacher training.
The Recycling Foundation: In 2001, a number of recycling leaders in the state of Washington came together to found The Recycling Foundation. The purpose of the organization was to support local organizations seeking to improve recycling in communities around the state.
In 2007, the Recycling Foundation launched the license plate project to bring both visibility and funding to recycling efforts. While WSRA had begun researching this project back in 2005, they began to test in interest in the project with Washington State Recycling Association members at the May 2007 conference. The TRF and WSRA began to jointly work on the project. However, in mid-2007, a moratorium was placed for two years so that no new license plates would be approved and thus the work on this project stopped.
Additionally, the Recycling Foundation hosted poster contests and solicited creative ideas to share the recycling message throughout the state. Many creative submissions came in and posters were produced.
In 2012, The Recycling Foundation set its goals:
- To promote education and research about recycling and its benefits
- To foster recycling content procurement, waste reduction, and reuse
- To support recycling educational activities.
However, it took until 2015 for The Recycling Foundation to rebuild its board and reactivate its work. A new board began meeting in July 2015 and set goals to rebuild the foundation’s resources to again support innovative, duplicable, and sustainable recycling projects through their grant programs. The Recycling Foundation was able to support one project during 2015– ten scholarships for college students to attend Washington State Recycling Association’s 2016 conference.
As the foundation moves forward, it will actively solicits funds from corporations, foundations, and individuals throughout the year.