- During the opening general session at the Institute of Scrap and Recycling Industries' (ISRI) 2017 Convention and Exposition, 7th grade student Jacob Folwell of Caldwell, ID was honored for winning the grand prize in the 2017 Youth Video & Poster Contest hosted by ISRI and JASON Learning.
- Folwell's video submission emphasized the contest's "Bigger than the Bin" theme by demonstrating the process of automotive recycling with LEGO animation and explaining the environmental benefits of recycling. "Educating future generations on the role recycling plays in the environment, economy, and society is a large part of ISRI’s advocacy and outreach efforts," said ISRI President Robin Wiener in a statement.
- This was the fourth year that ISRI and JASON Learning have teamed up for an industry-related youth art contest. "Contests such as this one are a way for [students] to explore areas of STEM that they might otherwise never think of, or make a personal connection with," said JASON Executive Vice President Patrick Shea in a statement.
As Folwell's creative video played on stage, audience members laughed and applauded. The cheers intensified when Folwell took the stage to accept his award and thank those who helped him with his submission. Folwell's appearance on stage also gave audience members a glimpse at the future of the industry.
During the opening session, retired ISRI Executive Director Dr. Herschel Cutler was also honored with the ISRI Lifetime Achievement Award. Cutler built a legacy career after more than three decades of work with ISRI, and the juxtaposition of his achievements to Folwell's award was symbolic. While other industry professionals near the end of their careers, younger generations are starting to get interested in the recycling business. By investing time and resources into educating youth, ISRI is taking a significant step to instill passion in the future industry workforce.
ISRI is not alone in targeting younger generations to build interest in the waste and recycling industry. The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) relaunched its "Responsible Package" website to help educate fifth graders about paper recycling; Keep America Beautiful sponsors the RecycleMania Tournament to increase recycling on college campuses; and the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) is a driving force behind industry engagement with students who want master's or doctoral degrees. These organizations and many others are ensuring that the industry will continue to thrive in the hands of smart, creative people, which is crucial to maintaining a long-lasting business.