New York recyclers awarded at annual conference

Each year the New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling (NYSAR3), a recyclers’ association for New York State, recognizes a few of their members for their dedication, innovation and passion for recycling. This year two people were recognized for lifetime achievement, one team of recyclers and one professional composter were given awards by NYSAR3 at their annual conference.

Neal Walters, recycling coordinator (ret.) for the Western Finger Lakes Authority, accepting the Recycler of the Year - Lifetime Achievement Award. He was presented with the award by NYSAR3 President Kerri Scales (left) and Marjorie Torelli, chair of the Awards Committee.

In addition to the easily recognized household recycling materials of paper, metal and glass, NYSAR3 includes composting as an important element of the whole recycling picture. For the first time, the Recycler of the Year is a professional composter as well as a horticultural professional. Ken VanAlstine Sr., of VanAlstine Nursery and Horticultural Services of Johnstown and Fort Hunter, has been recycling organics for over 67 years. His nomination states, “There is no one that we can point to that has contributed more to recycling organics, or who has done it with so much joy and energy as Ken VanAlstine.”

Recycler of the Year – Team was awarded to Dave Lupinski and Jamie Tuttle of the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority. They work on many projects that benefit not only their own counties, but other recycling programs. Their projects provide leadership and best-practices models. Through Lupinski’s and Tuttle’s efforts, Oneida-Herkimer has a great recycling website, a green team for schools, assistance for college composting programs, a comprehensive residential recycling program, commercial recycling programs and household hazardous waste collection.

The first of the two Lifetime Achievement awardees was Neal Walters, who served as Recycling Coordinator for the Western Finger Lakes Solid Waste Management Authority for 20 years, overseeing the curbside recycling programs for Seneca and Wayne Counties and the operation of the Materials Recovery Facility.

The second Lifetime Achievement Awardee was Lynn Leopold, who retired as City of Ithaca Recycling Education Coordinator and later as the Tompkins County recycling specialist for over two decades. Leopold was an early leader of the recycling movement in the state and successfully encouraged the City of Ithaca to implement one of the first residential curbside recycling programs in the 1980s.

Meg Morris, who works for Covanta Energy, was named a lifetime honorary member. Morris has served on the NYSAR3 board of directors for 20 years, as an at-large rep and treasurer. “I’m proud to say that during those years, I believe NYSAR3 has grown; it continues to be financially viable, and it continues to provide funding opportunities to schools for recycling improvement,” Morris said.