The Recycling Cornucopia provides technical assistance to cities, community groups and businesses in the field of sustainable resource management. The program is led by Neil Seldman, Phd., who has pioneered developments in processing, building deconstruction and small scale manufacturing from recycled materials.

Dr. Seldman has also chronicled the US recycling movement in the last 50 years in “History of the US Recycling Movement, Encyclopedia of Technology Energy and Environment” and “Wasting and Recycling in the US 2000.” He has also documented worldwide recycling developments for the World Bank in “Recycling From Municipal Refuse: a State-of-the-art Review and Annotated Bibliography.”

Neil Seldman, PhD, is co-founder of five notable organizations in the US and international Zero Waste movement: the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, 1973, National Recycling Coalition, 1980, Zero Waste USA 1996, Zero Waste International Alliance, 2003 and Save the Albatross Coalition, 2013. According to Robin Cannon, Concerned Citizens of South Los Angeles, Seldman is known as a grassroots organizer who “shows communities how to fight against incinerators and for the sustainable solutions to solid waste management and local economic problems.” He has worked in Atlanta, Alachua County, FL, Austin, Baltimore, Bridgeport, CT, Detroit, King County, WA, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Reading, PA and Washington, DC as well as numerous smaller cities and counties throughout the USA.

Dr. Seldman writes regularly on the political economy of wasting providing insight and constructive criticism of poorly designed technologies and policies. He has prepared numerous Zero Waste plans, which help cities, and counties transition from waste incineration to thriving local businesses and the infrastructure that supports them.

Neil Seldman 2022

Dr. Seldman was a manufacturer in New York City and a university lecturer in political science before co-founding the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC in 1973.

Services Available

Civic and environmental organizations, small businesses, local agencies and local officials may obtain free technical assistance on wasting, recycling, reuse and composting policies and programs. Recycling Cornucopia examples include:

  • Analysis of current wasting and recycling system
  • Identify policies, programs and enterprises that pave the way to Zero Waste
  • Identify sources of local, state and national funding for planning, organizing and implementation
  • Link local activists with regional and national networks of Zero Waste communities
  • Train organized citizens in Zero Waste analysis and research

If your community and/or organization would like to be considered as a Recycling Cornucopia Project please complete this form (I/P). Plan to provide your name, the name of your organization and location. Briefly describe the Zero Waste challenge you are facing: a proposed incinerator, an existing incinerator, a proposed mega landfill, poor recycling, reuse and composting programs that need to be improved, how to access federal infrastructure investment funding, or developing a Zero Waste Plan and Implementation Schedule.

Cornucopia Posts

2023 Articles | Cornucopia

Book Review: Reinventing the Supply Chain by Jack Buffington

Summary of Neil’s review: In Jack Buffington’s book, “Reinventing the Supply Chain,” he draws parallels between George Orwell’s call for local decision-making in the 1930s and a modern-day solution to 21st-century challenges. Buffington advocates for a decentralized political economy, leveraging 3-D manufacturing and Blockchain technology, alongside significant investments in STEM education. He emphasizes the importance…

2023 Articles | Cornucopia

World Neighbors Grant Honors Neil Seldman

World Neighbors, an international development organization that helps communities lift themselves from poverty through sustainable economic and social development, today announced the Neil Seldman Grant. This generous Grant will further World Neighbors’s work to help communities in low-income countries lift themselves from poverty while protecting the environment and increasing climate resilience.

2023 Articles | Cornucopia

Reflections on Neil Seldman Upon His Retirement From ILSR

David and Neil Seldman were co-directors of ILSR from 1973 until 2013. He is a prolific author whose work includes We Must Make Haste Slowly: The Process of Revolution in Chile, 1973, Neighborhood Power: The New Localism, 1976, and Self-Reliant Cities, 1982, among numerous technical reports, articles and essays on localism and democracy.

2022 Articles | Cornucopia | Press Release

Zero Waste USA Announces The Recycling Cornucopia

Ruth Abbe, President of Zero Waste USA has just announced “Civic and environmental organizations, small businesses, local agencies and local officials will be able to obtain free technical assistance on waste prevention, reuse, recycling, and composting policies and programs from the Recycling Cornucopia Program of Zero Waste USA”.

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