The need for a regional recycling organization in the Southeast with the goal of bringing additional materials to markets was discussed for several years by SERDC founding members Arthur Ferguson, Haywood Dozier, Suzette Thomason, David Baker, and any others they could get to listen regarding the fact that the Southeast has unique challenges relative to every facet of collection, processing, marketing and manufacturing of recyclable materials. The founding members felt it would be beneficial to address those on a regional basis.
At that time, only a few of Southeastern states were members of the National Recycling Coalition. Thus, the Southeast region was not recognized for accomplishments, received no financial and/or educational support from a national level, had no input into national recycling initiatives, etc. In addition, several state recycling organizations were struggling with membership retention, funding, participation, etc. Additional factors affecting industry and prompting the discussions were limited staffing, budgets, and time constraints. It was difficult for industry representatives to support every state recycling organization throughout the Southeast with membership dues, conference attendance/sponsorship, and personal time commitment, e.g. through board of directors and/or committee participation.
Representatives from industry, state government environmental and recycling representatives, local municipalities, non-profit associations, the Environmental Protection Agency Region IV, recycling coalitions, and major industry were invited to discuss the feasibility of forming a regional organization. The meeting was held November 2004 in Birmingham, AL. Attendance and interest was phenomenal. Subsequent meetings lead to the formation of the interim Board of Directors, with an equal division of industry and state/municipality representation. The original intent was that SERDC would be comprised of eight states, however, as interest grew it quickly became an 11-state organization: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. SERDC became a 501-c-3 non-profit organization incorporated in Alabama in April of 2005. Arthur Ferguson, Mark Lester, Suzette Thomason, David Baker, Phil Cavin, Lisa White, Jim Saye, Haywood Dozier, John Bennett, Nancy Jo Craig, Mickey Mills, Jerry Hawk, and Tonya Healea signed the Articles of Incorporation.
The overall mission of SERDC is focused on unifying government, industry, and non-governmental organizations around recycling. Goals include fostering communication among these groups, promoting sustainable recycling programs, and coordinating educational and public awareness activities related to recycling. By doing so this would further SERDC’s primary purpose of increasing the collection and recovery of materials and concomitantly fostering economic development.
The SERDC Board of Directors is comprised of individuals from State Recycling Organizations, Government, Trade Associations and Industry inline with SERDC’s mission.
SERDC’s active relationship with our member states is crucial to furthering development within each state and regionally. SERDC has a membership with State Recycling Organizations (SRO) and in turn encourages SRO membership in SERDC. States agencies are represented on the Board of Directors.
SERDC has developed several workshop series in partnership with State Agencies and SRO’s in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia. A web seminar series in Summer 2011 included one targeted towards SRO’s and their successes and obstacles.
SERDC’s Executive Director, Will Sagar is actively touring the Southeast and meeting with various state-level officials as well as industry members. He also speaks frequently at Conferences, Workshops and other events throughout the Southeast, at national events, like the Resource Recycling Conferences and as far as Jamaica, speaking on the economic impact of recycling.